For the past decade São Paulo has become a thriving economic and cultural centre of Brazil and as such attracts a growing number of Brazilian artists, gallery owners and collectors while also encouraging new platforms dedicated to artistic expression including the Biennial SP Art Fair.
The 7SP exhibition presents seven artists who all work and live in São Paulo; Sandra Cinto, Albano Afonso and Paulo Climachauska belong to the 90’s generation and have participated in some of the most important exhibitions presented in Brazil in recent years, including the Biennial de São Paulo and Panorama da Arte Brasileira. Ana Elisa Egreja, Rodrigo Bivar and Rafael Carneiro belong to a younger generation of painters which reintroduced figurative painting to the local art scene and are experiencing huge success in Brazil at the moment. Wagner Malta Tavares belongs to the 90’s generation but started working in the art field recently through art installations.This project proposes three in-situ creations by Sandra Cinto, Albano Afonso and Paulo Climachauska, as well as a selection of the most recent works by some artists of the new painting generation and a video installation.All seven artists share an international point of view produced with a Brazilian flavor. They all reflect the concerns of Brazilians today, including future of the natural beauties of the country and the uncertainty of the future in a country full of contradictions.Where do we come from ? What are we doing ? Where are we going? These are common questions the whole world over, but the difference is that these artists are raising these questions in a country considered emergent with a whole future ahead of them.
Sandra Cinto uses a wide range of media including drawing, painting, photography, sculpture and in-situ creations. She is one of the most preeminent Brazilian artists, known both in Brazil and abroad and has been included in some of the most important exhibitions in Brazil such as the São Paulo Biennial. Mixing various media and taking into consideration the architecture of the space, Cinto creates different layers of illusions in her work. In her installations Cinto takes the public into an supernatural experience: large canvases painted in a wide variety of blues, with silver lines drawn to represent the waves in the sea, cover the walls of a room, as if the spectator were in the eye of a storm. Water is of enormous relevance as Brazilians have a strong connection with the sea and rivers as a result of a long historical and cultural tradition. It is common to hear in these lands that Brazil is the country blessed by God. Though in times of climate change and environmental threats how far would Brazilians swim, stride or soar to protect their natural resources? In this light, the artworks of Sandra Cinto may serve as post-it notes, to make sure people keep in mind the value of these blues.
WAGNER MALTA TAVARES
Wagner Malta Tavares is one of those artists whose has the unique ability to make artworks using a variety of media and still create a coherent body of work. From sculpture to video, photography to installation and passing through performance art, his output is imaginative and full of humour. Tavares is very interested in mythology, literature and comic books/films; the way he manages to link fiction with reality in his production is original and intriguing. Recently, the artist made a series of works around the central element of “Air” in which a video explores a house on a cliff apparently without windows and with five white curtains swaying in the doors. Abandonment? Emptiness? When a door is closed, a window is opened…but what if there were no windows? Some journeys can be deeply lonely and the hope of better winds is always encouraging. With playful and lyric methods, Tavares subtly uncovers the identity of the contemporary man: ambitious, yet melancholic. Willing to save the world, but barely able to rescue himself. In Brazil, these verses especially apply to old habits of people: often complaining about the present, despite barely doing anything for a greater future.
Since the early 1990s, Climachauska has been adding new angles to some old ideas in Brazil, by a principle of subtraction. In his paintings, drawings and installations, the artist constructs images of modernism. The lines on the papers, canvases and walls are made up of a series of subtraction equations, and the final image is formed when the calculations reach zero, followed by a double zero representing infinity to finish. Or would it be to start again ?
On a small or a large scale, Paulo Climachauska invites the public to think. It might seem an easy equation, but the fact is as time rushes the day along, minimum activity can seem like an endless effort. In a way similar to Sol LeWitt, Climachauska shows us a wide range of possible configurations for our world. Any miscalculation can lead to a totally opposite result. The artist believes life is made out of choices, therefore subtractions. In order to move forward, it is necessary to get rid of indecisions; what is seen is what has not been eliminated. Parallel to this, some of Climachauska’s works are reflections conceived inside the original buildings, functioning like mirrors of the real structures. Considering mirrors are negative spaces, could the artist be suggesting the importance of a more attentive look towards our own images? Time to reflect.
With themes such as ‘a walk in the countryside’, ‘an afternoon at the beach’ or ‘a regular student’s day’, Bivar portrays the lives and environments around him — which, in fact, could be around anybody – which is one of the reasons why the public connects with his artworks. The oil paintings portray original photographs, but the artist has no intention to reflect reality – quite the contrary. The photos are supposed to instigate new possibilities for his paintings. From these photographic perspectives, the viewer could take the place of a voyeur, a tourist, or a wanderer.
The photographic angles, in addition to the physical aspects of the paintings, help structure the intimate aesthetic nature of the works. The colours and lines on the canvas are always smooth; discreet tones and light brushstrokes give the painting an informal and fresh aspect. Still, there is something odd about these scenarios… Could it be that the comfort zone eventually might become uncomfortable? The same tranquil source also points to instability: the cloudiness found on the objects functions like a bubble of serenity, in which everything is fine for the time being, but it all could burst in a matter of seconds.
Through photography, projections, installations and interventions, Afonso explores the many formats light can take into artworks. He analyzes the anatomy of light, “makes stars”, creates constellations, and illuminates forests. The artist manipulates the untouchable, and constantly alters the borders between light and dark.
Afonso is an illusionist. He makes the public believe in a reality that is as solid as light. His tricks can make some things brighter, hide others in the shadows and transform images in the blink of an eye. Some of the environments with projections and panels are invitations to traverse the milky way, there is a weightlessness here; things feel and look lighter. However, the whole situation can also change at the speed of light; colours, tones and figures can take other shapes in the next room, creating a whole different work. Everything can be reinterpreted; all that is needed is to see things in a new light. Albano Afonso paints and molds with light, he switches it on and off and is not afraid to leave the viewer in the dark: those who learn the way out of the tunnel are able to see things more clearly afterwards. While playing this game of hide-and- seek, Afonso challenges the audience to see the contrasts inside the chambers as well as outside the gallery.
ANA ELISA EGREJA
Egreja belongs to a younger generation of Brazilian painters. Nature is the law in her surreal kingdom where lions, dogs, birds and bears are just a few of the main characters in her oil paintings; they interact with each other inside the rooms of an old house, creating the most eccentric situations on the canvases. She paints environments with distorted perspectives, created by patterns ranging from delicate and colourful laces to geometric Portuguese tiles. In terms of Brazil, there is an evident reference to the important role of the rich fauna, the vivid colours of daily life and the joyful sense of humour. But this is also the country of contradictions and juxtapositions of realities: a house with beautiful wallpapers but flooded floors, where wolves dress like sheep and one never knows who is the prey or the hunter; it is a social jungle full of entrapments. In this context, Egreja seems to instinctively denounce the circus of some political houses, where domestic issues have gone wildly out of control.
Part of a generation that grew up with the evolution of screens, monitors and remotes, Rafael Carneiro is one of many who closely watched the digitalization of the material world and expresses this experience in his works. Based on images found on the internet and later turned into photographs, his oil paintings show the interior of industrial warehouses, factories and laboratories. Carneiro’s canvases have an aesthetic similar to some computer monitors and television screens: the image seems to be made of pixels, the colours are faded and the angle is impersonal.
The foggy and cold look of the paintings, as well as the idea of portraying environments usually unknown to most people, make the works seem distant. The fact that the images that inspired the paintings could actually find online by anyone is part of the juxtaposition of realities that the artist proposes. One can be either obsessed with the lives of others or focused exclusively on personal matters; the channels in between are often “white noise”. In Brazil, the lack of effective information and the excess of useless data is a three dimensional reality. Meanwhile, citizens see only what is convenient to their eyes, and pretend the rest is in a remote storage.Rafael Carneiro suggests that art is not only a vehicle of information, but also of inspiration and innovation. Through art, one can pause time for as long as desired, rewind to specific moments or look forward to new possibilities.