"Os de pé #4", 2022. Foto: Bruno Leão
Interview

Materializing the invisible

Felipe Molitor
15 Jun 2022, 5:31 pm

On her fifth solo exhibition at Galeria Millan, Tatiana Blass transforms the viewer into an active accomplice in her search of materializing the invisible. Among unseen series of paintings and sculptures of varied materials, many inspired by theatre photography, some works feature a presence detection sensor which, when activated, conduct heat. Thenceforth, we become another of her anonymous characters, members of a gloomy universe at the edge of language, where the ending and the beginning constitute a continuum.

Reviravolta [Twist], the title of the show curated by Camila Bechelany, also christens a series of sculptures of entwined rubber and iron hoses, that hang from the wall to the floor indefinitely. According to the curator’s text, “it is an allegory of the continuity of the end which does not speak of a terminus, annihilation or ending, but rather a reconfiguration of the form and the material of ways of life in space and time. Continuity and end, malleability and rigidity, form and content are contrasts dissolved and mirrored throughout the exhibition.”

Invited by SP–Arte, the artist answers some questions on the exhibition.

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"Pintura que derrete: os de pé", 2022. Fotos: Ana Pigosso.
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"Pintura que derrete: os de pé", 2022. Photos: Ana Pigosso.

“The common drive of life is, all the time, of inconstancy”

Felipe Molitor: Tatiana, few artists manage to have such a coherent transit between supports – from painting to installation, from sculpture to video – as you do. How does this interest for different materials happen? Is it part of your studio practice or does it come up from a specific ongoing research?

Tatiana Blass: I like this place in visual arts that admits many experiments, many languages. There is a place of experimental art that admits that which wouldn’t be admitted in cinema, in a book, in theatre. It’s a place non-place of other languages. These frayed borders that end up entwining in contemporary art interest me a lot.

In my generation there are many artists that don’t consider themselves painters, gravers, sculptors, but contemporary artists. My safe place is painting, which is my daily work in the studio, but I end up having ideas that come in other supports, in specific materials. Sometimes I need clay to tell something that’s particulate to clay, or something that needs to be told in wax… So I go after materials and professionals that know the techniques to deal with them and also open a questioning on how it works to formalize them and how they become objects of the world, that stand still, that sustain themselves and sustain the concept, the idea. I have ideas in that material, that support and the unknown, the primary experience, like a child playing and discovering the possibilities of something. Of course there’s a formalization, a development, but this “unskilful” place stimulates me a lot.

"Pintura que derrete", 2022. Foto: Ana Pigosso
"Reviravolta #2", 2022, ferro, PVC flexível e gancho. Foto: Bruno Leão

FM: Your exhibition Reviravolta presents a painting made of paint and wax over a metallic plate which, such as the “action sculptures”, suffer a deformation process since the spectator’s presence is felt. Could you comment on this dissolution of the work itself with the public, this device of associating light and heat to provoke a state change?

TB: I’m very interested in the “being happening”, my idea was that the person’s presence provoked a misconfiguration of the work – I don’t think of it as a destruction, but it’s undoing itself, always in a farewell process, even if it’s saying goodbye to a state and becoming another. This “farewell state” interests me a lot, and that the spectator involuntarily triggers this process was something I wanted to achieve. Many of these processes are triggered during the exhibition.

About the choice of wax, I have been working with this material in many works, that I saw for the first time at the foundry, when I was making a sculpture in bronze. First you see the sculpture in wax, through lost-wax casting. I found the material to be very interesting, because it changes its state very quickly, at a low temperature it gets liquid and soon it hardens. This state in which there’s an acting and the presence of time is a very important factor in the making of the works. Specially in this exhibition, time is a dimension that is in almost every work. There’s this idea of the farewell state instead of destruction, but the farewell of a state that is and is transforming. And it comes from the idea of inconstancy, the official state of life. We end up on an idea of the utopia of eternity, that things get firm and stable, but the common drive of life is, all the time, of inconstancy.

"O fim continua_Barro-cerâmica", 2022, argila, cerâmicas de autores desconhecidos, ferro, funil de vidro e água. Fotos: Ana Pigosso
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"O fim continua_Barro-cerâmica", 2022, paraffin, ceramic head of unknown authorship, steel, funnel and water. Photos: Ana Pigosso

"O fim continua", 2022, instalação com mangueira de ferro, torneira, encanamento, corte no chão. Foto: Ana Pigosso

"O fim continua", 2022, installation with iron hose, faucet, plumbing and floor cut. Photo: Ana Pigosso

“The process of destruction is so easy and that of construction – even more so of reconstruction – is always so difficult and laborious”

FM: Many critical texts about your work mention silence, emptiness, hiddenness as important dimensions in your poetics. Do you identify with these ideas? Somehow, do you look for apprehending, contouring the absences into turning them present?

TB: I think what I put into my work is a presence of the invisible, not emptiness as a lack of, absence as shortage, silence as lack of sound, but as a presence in itself. Mainly the instruments, they are a way of materializing silence coming. It’s as if the matter of wax was slowly muting the instrument and as if silence was that matter. It’s never a negative action, or destructive, but always thinking death, or silence, emptiness, as affirmations and presences. This in between, the air between things, being matter, in which the sound vibrates and gets to the ear. Thinking of this emptiness utopia, that is a presence. As if emptiness didn’t exist. It’s just another kind of presence, everything is presence. This idea of death as an idealized concept, of a utopian ending that doesn’t exist. This ending continues because after death, everything continues. In that regard, emptiness, silence, absence comes up in my work. In the installation Zona morta [Dead zone] (2007), in which I have cut the objects up, I made the furniture in a living room, the empty strip between things has become the subject, that emptiness became the most “matterful” thing in that space. It’s in the sense of creating a materiality of the invisible.

FM: Even though your artistic research is very formal, there is a sum of the reality of a country in a crumbling state that may resonate in your work. How do you think Brazil, or our current situation, penetrate and reflect on your artwork?

TB: In my work, I don’t like bringing overly directed views, but of course the whole moment we live in is there in the exhibition. They are possible interpretations. There is a drama put on, a certain tragedy, even thinking of this moment we live in very strongly, of a destructive action put forward and how the process of destruction is so easy and that of construction, and even more that of reconstruction, is always so hard and laborious. These two forces end up reflected. Originally, there would be a more clear reference to the Brumadinho question, the iron hoses where the rust comes from, this rust would provoke a change, this water would drop over the clay heads that would become mud. There is this narrative on the works that are on the gallery’s mezzanine, that I also decided to leave open for interpretation, without putting this clearly on the text. But yes, there is a reference to the general political situation, to what is being lived.

"Zona morta", 2007, instalação com móveis e objetos, no Centro Universitário Maria Antônia. Fotos: Everton Ballardin.
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"Zona morta", 2007, installation with furniture and objects, at Centro Universitário Maria Antônia. Photos: Everton Ballardin.


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Felipe Molitor is a journalist and art critic, part of the editorial team at SP–Arte.

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