Galeria Millan is pleased to present, from March 24 through April 28, 2018, the exhibition The First Green, by Thiago Rocha Pitta. The show marks a new chapter in his meticulous research on the environment, as he delves deeper into the origin and evolution of the planet through a set of works––mostly frescoes, as well as an installation, sculpture, watercolor and video––produced between 2017 and 2018.
Rocha Pitta’s diverse practice is connected to a deep fascination with the subtle transformations of his surroundings: the slow erosion and alteration of desert sand, a fog's descent and the fluctuations of underwater formations. His works capture the vibration of a living planet by training the observer's gaze on the slow material transformations, the physical progressions of tiny particles of a territory, and the sudden shifts of time.
In this new body of work, the artist examines the natural processes involved in the foundation of all living things: from the appearance of cyanobacteria––the first beings to carry out photosynthesis 3.7 billion years ago––to the period of "Great Oxidation," when the oxygen produced by these microorganisms started being released into the atmosphere, creating the conditions for a life as we know it today.
From this, Rocha Pitta creates a rich visual field that reinvigorates and updates this narrative in contemporary life, an update that becomes pertinent when we consider our role in the ongoing transformation of the planet, which for many scientists now crosses the Anthropocene epoch, in which human beings and their technical-scientific activities have replaced nature as the predominant environmental force. In portraying ancestral microorganisms that have operated a radical change in the chemical composition of the atmosphere, the artist also hopes to alert us on our insignificance in the history of the world.
These ideas are manifested in the exhibition through the artist's engagement, since 2016, with the color green, which lends its name to the title of the show. The color evokes not only the exuberant landscapes of Brazil but can be considered a synonym of several ecosystems around the world. Using the vast spectrum, hues, and gradations contained between green and blue, it weaves abstract views of the earth and the sea that erupt with vigor in our gaze.
The liveliness of these views is accentuated by the implementation of the traditional fresco technique, through which pigments are applied directly onto a moist layer composed of lime and sand, resulting in freshly laid surfaces. The artist's choice of this technique––which involves the evaporation, hardening and release of heat––establishes a clear connection with the geological cycles shown in the exhibition.
The exhibition also includes the video Before the Dawn, filmed in the Hamelin Pool, located in Western Australia. The Hamelin Pool is one of only two places on Earth where there are still stromatolites similar to those found in 3.5-million-year-old rocks. The 12-minute video captures daybreak over these extraordinary sea creatures and offers a touching image of early life: from the small organisms that brought about the development of the diverse flora and fauna of the world today, to the first experience of light.
“Dawn marks a moment when light and darkness are still not separated and the world presents itself as an indistinct, primitive atmosphere. That is the feeling that permeates the entire exhibition. It is about recognizing the extraordinary processes that have contributed to the formation of the world we know today. It is also a reminder that our environment is not static. It is breathing and changing all the time,” says the artist.
Galeria Millan exhibits in its Anexo, from March 24 through April 28, 2018, an overview of Paulo Pasta's recent production, with a wide selection of works produced during the past year. That same week, Instituto Tomie Ohtake opens a solo exhibition dedicated to the artist, with large-scale paintings from different phases in his career, selected by curator Paulo Miyada. A happy coincidence that allows the general public to doubly confirm the solidity and maturity of his work and to witness Pasta's rare ability to reinvent himself without losing his identity.
Titled Lembranças do Futuro, the show at Anexo Millan delves into an essential aspect of the artist’s work: time. His canvases show a clear relationship to memory, a conjunction between past, present and future; as if, when standing before them, we put ourselves before an expanded, dilated time. It has nothing to do with the time of the clock, or the condensation of a fleeting moment, but with the construction of a latent, contemplative state, created through a delicate balance, which is both rigorous and intuitive, between form and color.
The exhibition brings together a select group of paintings that were created by the artist during the past year. Despite the short time frame in which they were produced, they touch upon a great variety of issues. Among the most striking aspects of his recent investigation are a tendency to work with darker colors and a great concern with exploring chromatic values. This investigation on the saturation and intensity of hues derives from his research on landscape––a genre not included in this selection; of the function of color as a central element for the creation of optical effects in painting.
Placed side by side in subtle tonal contrasts, overlapping to create an imprecise intermediate area, or powerful nuclei that seem to emanate light, Pasta's colors do not exist in isolation. They gain strength from the relationships that they establish with each other. As he often says, "color is a suggestion, a state of mind. It is hard to translate something that is so intuitive. It has to do with a desire, which is not only rational.” He adds: "I like to let my work lead me and I will understand it later. The opposite, for me, is more harmful, more pernicious.”
This imponderable, experimental side of Pasta's production is also present in his choice of the structural forms that organize his canvases, in their dimensions, and in the formal purification of each composition. Usually working multiple canvases at once, the artist carries out several investigations simultaneously, establishing a broad field of inquiry from only seemingly reduced elements. In these more recent productions, for example, diagonal lines––which suggest depth––are more prominent. But they coexist with already familiar schemes outlines such as crosses and strips.
The diversity between works that are paradoxically very familiar is felt even more intensely among works of different scales. It is as if the compositional and formal relationships took on very specific characteristics according to the space they occupy. The small paintings on paper, such as those from Pasta's visual essay for Serrote magazine–– which will take up an entire wall of the gallery annex––bring a lightness of gesture and less of a commitment to refinement, which ends up contrasting and highlighting the formal completeness present in the large canvases.
This dialogue between the different paths taken by the artist in the isolation of his studio, made possible by the exchange within the exhibition space, not only makes the most apparent aspects of his research more tangible, but shows the importance, in almost equal doses, of effort and desire in his artistic practice. Often referring to master's of painting who preceded him, Pasta frequently says that he learned the importance of discipline from Matisse and the importance of patience from Volpi. According to him, “intention is not enough, the project must be subjected to daily, persistent, slow action, thus becoming destiny.”
The visual artist Lenora de Barros exhibits her most recent work, from November 22 through December 20, 2017, after a period of research in New York. Pisa na Paúra occupies Anexo Millan and examines themes like violence and fear through different art forms, including video, installation, wheat paste posters and ceramics.
The word “paúra,” in Portuguese, is a synonym of fear, dread, terror; it derives from the Latin pavere, which means “to be terrified or astonished, to be possessed.” The artist enters the etymological dimensions of the word to engender a set of works that marks a new phase in her career. She is now dealing with new challenges as she devotes herself to manual crafts, especially ceramics, a research she carried out during six months at the Sculpture Space in New York.
At the entrance to the exhibition space, Lenora will cover two large walls (6.5 x 11 m) with wheat-pasted posters containing the hand-written phrase “pisa na paúra” (step on fear). The text repeats itself in an obsessive and rhythmic way and overlaps until almost reaching entropy. The phrase is a poetic and radical transition from verbal language to drawing.
In the center of the same space, visitors will be invited to step on the letters of the word “paúra,” made of clay, which literally evoke the feeling of the exhibition title, the idea of stepping on fear. Ceramic works also appear in a series of small sculptures titled Máscaras de Mão (2017), whose shape and scale resemble boxing gloves, but also suggest disfigured faces.
The process for its creation came from an insight the artist had while exploring the inner composition of the medium, its visceral aspect. “This primitive state of clay and how it might lend itself to my poetics interests me. At first, I was afraid of the process of creating form, and that feeling made me revisit a poem I wrote in 1972,” she says, referring to MEDO DA FORMAAMORFA. Viscerality was already a recurring element in her work, but now it takes on a more sensitive character.
In a line of research that developed parallel to and in dialogue with ceramics, the artist was experimenting with targets used in shooting ranges – an uncomfortable and disturbing element at a time when violence spreads in a frightening way and turns against determined, as well as random, targets. During her research process, Lenora decided to collect used targets tossed out at a shooting range in São Paulo, which will be featured in the show. “It called my attention to the violence contained in these figures in ‘decomposition’ after the shots they received – images of bodies that never lived, but died in a violent way,” she says.
The pieces also served as a starting point for the video Alvos, which was recorded in one of the rooms at this shooting range, in which the artist positions the figure of the target over her own face. “What stood out in this image is the fact that the point that directs the shot is situated over her mouth. This connection with the tongue and language interests me,” she explains, and adds: “The intriguing thing is that this figure has an impassive expression, whose meaning is precisely the opposite of ‘paúra.’”
Lenora de Barros began her production in the 1970s, in a field of research that privileged the relationships between word and image. Daughter of the artist Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998), she had an up-close experience with the Constructivism in São Paulo. “I grew up in this stimulating environment interacting with artists and poets, under the influence of Concretism, Pop culture and the climate of experimentalism and transgression of sectors of the cultural milieu at a time when Brazil lived under a military dictatorship. All this influenced me and stimulated the development of my work, which came to meet the wider environment of contemporary art.”
Galeria Millan will hold, from November 22 through December 20, 2017, the exhibition Décio Pignatari – Na Arte Interessa O Que Não [In Art Matters What is Not], curated by João Bandeira. The uniqueness of the show is characterized by the presentation of a majority of lesser-known works, including some that were long out of circulation, produced between the 1950s and the 2000s, without leaving out examples of the classics by Décio Pignatari in a selection featuring around fifty works.
Also displayed are original manuscripts and typed writings, letters, photographs and other documents, some of them never seen publicly, as well as audio and audiovisual material. The exhibition, which occupies both floors of the gallery, proposes to give a concise but multifaceted panorama of Pignatari's artistic production, which extends the understanding of his work beyond his recognition as one of the founders of concrete poetry, alongside the brothers Augusto and Haroldo de Campos.
Over more than half a century of activity in Brazil's cultural milieu, Décio Pignatari explored not only the semantic dimension in his works, but also the aural and especially the visual language. A key name in Brazilian visual poetry, he was known for his creative restlessness; he also wrote plays, short stories and a novel––which were always highly experimental––as well as a series of texts in the areas of semiotics and communication theory.
Part of his rich artistic production can be seen at the exhibition, including period-original poems such as Terra (1958) and the iconic Beba Coca-Cola (in a serigraphic version signed by Décio in 1991), as well as works like Pelé and Agora, from the series Poemas Semióticos (1964) and a facsimile print of Cr$isto é a Solução (1967)––which visitors can take home–– that dialogue closely with the country's current context. Amidst a variety of techniques and mediums––prints in offset and silkscreen, objects, audio recordings and others––visitors will have access to two important book-poems, Life (1958) and Organismo (1960), available in replicas that can be touched in the exhibition space.
The curator, João Bandeira, considers Décio Pignatari's work as being "like a continent that is still not well-known." He adds: "Décio's work alongside the Campos brothers in the creation of concrete poetry in the 1950s, and the discussion on what he took up with them is, undoubtedly, a fundamental inheritance. But the originality and breadth of his production does not end there. He had a courage for taking risks that I find admirable. In addition to the "Décio language designer" in that best-known Swiss standard, there is also the "Décio udigrudi," who exchanged ideas with people like Hélio Oiticica and Júlio Bressane, and created the priceless ‘Marda – Movimento de Arregimentação Radical em Defesa da Arte’ with Rogério Duprat, governed by the most acidic irreverence, which resulted in screenplays for photo-comics and things like happenings to the jingle Brazil, My Mother (from 1970), which, incidentally, will also be in this exhibition at Galeria Millan."
Galeria Millan will host, from September 2 – 30, 2017, the first-ever exhibition Das mãos e do barro, curated by Aracy Amaral, co-curated by artist Osvaldo Salerno, one of the directors at Museo del Barro in Asunción, with the participation of theorist Ticio Escobar. The show features 114 works by Paraguayan artists Julia Isídrez, Ediltrudis Noguera and Carolina Noguera which present the viscerality in the century-old tradition of Paraguayan ceramics for the first time in São Paulo at Galeria and Anexo Millan.
The show was conceived by Aracy Amaral in 2009 while curating the Chile Triennial of Visual Arts, when she came in closer contact with the works by these three self-taught Guarani artists who honor a century-old tradition, dating back to the pre-Columbian period, in their country of origin. “Artisans who work non-stop, having learned from their mothers, who in turn learned from their mothers, in a tradition originating from around the colonial period to present day. Women knead the damp clay and men work in basketry or woodworking,” explains Amaral.
Itá and Tobatí, the hometowns of Julia Isídrez and sisters Ediltrudis Noguera and Carolina Noguera, respectively, are two centers famous for the production of ceramics made by the Guarani people who cultivate the tradition of clay art, characterized by the production of cremation urns and votive vessels. The works by the Paraguayans carry with them traces of a daily routine divided between household chores, looking after the children and the home, where the work with clay takes place by the oven and the room in which their families sleep. “The activities in the home shift, creating another dynamic, which interrupts the routine,” explains writer Lia Colombino.
The three artists work with clay in their own unique styles and have shown their craft at important exhibitions in Latin America and Europe, including Documenta 13 in Kassel. Carolina Noguera (Compañía 21 de julio, Tobatí, 1972), daughter of prestigious ceramist Mercedes Areco de Noguera, began working with her mother during childhood, following the pre-colonial hereditary tradition. At the age of 17, Carolina took an independent path, at which time she began to develop her own style, marked by human and angelic figures, which characterize her work to this day. She began gaining notoriety after the documentary Kambuchi, directed by Miguel Agüero, which premiered in 2011.
Ediltrudis Noguera (Compañía 21 de julio, Tobatí, 1965), like her sister Carolina, also dedicates her time to clay art, but her practice focuses on pitchers (drinking vessels of Greco-Roman origin) with zoomorphic or anthropomorphic shapes, featuring powerful images of bulls, horses and humans. Her home oven was replaced by a kiln for firing larger pieces. She has shown her work extensively in Paraguay and abroad, at the Chile Triennial in Santiago, for example. In February 2017, she participated in an arts and crafts workshop in the City of Antigua, Guatemala, at the invitation of the BANAMEX Development Sector, National Bank of Mexico, an event that brought together great masters of Iberoamerican Folk Art.
Julia Isídrez (Compañía Caaguazu, Itá, 1967), daughter of artist Juana Maria Rodas (1925-2013) with whom she also learned, like the Noguera sisters, the craft of ceramics. Her work focuses on small pieces, often inspired by animals found in the home and in her surroundings (snakes, armadillos, chickens, ducks, fleas, spiders, bedbugs, scorpions, etc.); as well larger pieces that explore the vessel and urn formats. She has been exhibiting works internationally since 1976, including at the UNESCO Gallery in Paris, the Center of Visual Arts at Museo del Barro in Asunción, Paraguay (1998, 1999), the Mercosur Biennial in Porto Alegre, Brazil (1999), the ARCO Fair in Madrid, Spain (2007), the 35th edition of the International Exhibition of Traditional Arts and Crafts in Santiago, Chile (2008), the Chile Triennial of Visual Arts (2009), and at Documenta in Kassel, Germany (2013).
In gathering a rich selection of works by these three artists for the first time in Brazil, Das mãos e do barro brings about an important reflection on the phenomenon of Paraguayan Folk Art as well as its expressive force that, along with the musical and industrial traditions, are acquiring new contours in an era of global communication that intensifies its creative production. These are works that translate “the transformation of the utilitarian in face of the phenomenon of globalizing contamination into an art that is now not only featured in local exhibitions and at Museo del Barro, but also at international events and exhibitions," says Amaral. Meanwhile, it also points to the dilemma that all century-old traditions face: whether to preserve or renew themselves, which, in attempting to meet the emergence of a market that is always eager for innovation, run the risk of disappearing.
Tiago Mestre, a Portuguese artist who has gained prominence in the Brazilian art scene, exhibits his works for the first time at Galeria Millan from July 12 through August 12. The show, Noite. Inextinguível, inexprimível noite. [Night. Inextinguishable, inexpressible night.], borrows its title from the poem Lugar II by Portuguese poet Herberto Helder (1930-2015) and features a selection of 60 artworks that explore the issue of form and the myth of the modern project relating to sculpture. Materials such as clay, bronze and plaster give shape to works that are in a constant negotiation between design and unpredictability, between plan and expressive freedom.
The set of works includes sculptures of different scales, video, interventions with the gallery’s architecture and a large installation (a landscaping element that organizes the whole exhibition). These works refer to the first human attempts at assimilating the natural within projectual thought, mapping the process of assimilating the landscape starting from the intellect. “The idea of the design as a backdrop, as the orchestration of a system," explains Mestre.
Each of the sculptures seems to demonstrate a concise act, that’s clearly manual, as if it were unfinished or in a perpetual state of becoming, often leaving an ambiguous affiliation as to its disciplinary nature. The use of color emerges punctually, not so much as a system, but rather as a resource that accentuates, corrects or clarifies specific issues in the work. This semantic uncertainty, or programmatic transversality, is one of the focal points of the work. The problematization of the performative capacity of each of the works is made evident (if not parodied) in situations such as the one of the sculpture of two hills (a work that is both landscape sculpture and a niche for other minor works).
The video, which will be shown on the second floor of the gallery, stands as a kind of general synthesis of the show. The immateriality of this medium contrasts decisively with the predominantly objectual side of the remaining works. In it, we see a slow, silent and interminable transmutation of geometric and organic forms, in an “apathetic” reference to the myth of Brazilian architecture, to its unique relationship with nature and the landscape.
Although some architectural procedures are involved in his process—such as sketches and scale models—his focus is more directed toward the observation of the bodies' experience in the space, whether they be natural, sculptural, or architectural. It seems that this intimacy between nature, space and form, is what Mestre’s exhibition seeks to unveil.
One of the most significant painters of the 80s generation, Rodrigo Andrade will display his most recent works at Galeria Millan and Millan Annex, from June 1 to July 1 of 2017. Duas Cavernas (Two Caverns) covers the main tendencies the artist has concentrated on intensively in recent months. Known for his ability to radically change the course of his work, in the quest for new lines of research, Andrade is experiencing a moment of greater synthesis, in which the various paths of his 33-year career appear to converge more profound interaction. With this exhibition, he creates an interesting interface of dialog with the major retrospective exhibition of his work at the end of the year at Estação Pinacoteca Museum.
In all, the exhibit will include 25 to 30 canvases, organized around three main axes: the landscapes, largely inspired by the classical works of masters such as Ruysdael, Uccello and Bellini (occupying the main gallery); the abstract paintings, the Bilaterals, consisting of two large chromatic fields, in equilibrium (shown in the annex); and, as the balancing factor, since they introduce questions common to the two previous groups – a series of recent works, the “binary figures".
These figures move between the figurative and the abstract and invariably consider the idea of the pair, of the reflection, an aspect frequently seen in all the artist's work. Some of these binary bring aspects that hark back to the universe of cartoons or to references of art history (as in the case of Fera e Princesa (Beast and Princess), in a clear dialog with Uccello's St. George and the Dragon, and Bicho e Pedra, depois de Neves Torres (Creature and Stone, after Neves Torres), based on a work by the author named in the title). Others are more indecipherable, like the gigantic 6 x 11 meter mural that Andrade will paint on one of the Annex walls.
The grottoes, catacombs and rocky outcrops, picturesque themes of the 19th century, have long captivated the artist and he has been collecting images of this type since 2010 and reworking the theme pictorially, until reaching the current stage. The caverns and his other works are dimensional bodies that project themselves beyond the plane, conquering space. In dealing with the masses of paint – in work that harks back to the geometrical forms of his paintings of the 2000s, which became a kind of artistic signature – Andrade uses masks and carefully designed templates in the cutting out process.
Since the early years, when his work and that of other colleagues – meeting at the Casa 7 (Number 7) atelier – came to the public's notice with their participation in the 18th São Paulo Biennial, there have been a number of radical changes in his output. The most recent of these was in 2010, when Andrade – who had been producing markedly abstract work – surprised the circuit with the black, immaterial landscapes, based on photographic records, displayed at the 29th Biennial (2010). Now, in addition to boundless vitality and a turning back in search of a greater incidence of color and form, the artist seems more inclined to tread parallel paths, discovering in each of them aspects to feed his research.
Galeria Millan holds, from 3/11 to 4/8, the group show “Portraits”, curated by art critic and researcher Rafael Vogt Maia Rosa. The exhibition gathers 30 works by Brazilian artists that, since the 60’s, explored the portrait’s genre as a field of aesthetic investigation.
“This genre allowed approaches to diverse cultural processes and realities, such as photography and painting, the universe of conceptual art and fashion," says the curator. "There were many Brazilian artists who explored this field; The selection emphasizes the dialogue between the artists, from unpublished artworks by names represented by the Millan Gallery to items from private collections that are rarely exposed to the public.”
Integrate the show: Wesley Duke Lee, Tunga, Mario Cravo Neto, Waldemar Cordeiro, Geraldo de Barros, Carlos Fajardo, Claudio Tozzi, Regina Parra, Lenora de Barros, Maya Luxemburg, Vik Muniz, Sergio Romagnolo, Boi, Rodrigo Andrade, Ana Prata, Gilda Vogt, Otavio Schipper, Tatiana Blass, José Resende, Fernando Zarif, Bob Wolfenson and Janaina Tschäpe.
“Questions raised by Wesley Duke Lee since the 1960s - on the ritualization of the portrait process, commissioned art production and serial reproduction, among others - served as inspiration for this show, as well as conversations held with Tunga between 2014 and 2016", explain Rafael Vogt. In one of these meetings, Tunga, instigated by the critic, established parallels between his work and that of Mario Cravo Neto, both gathered in this exhibition: "Mario Cravo was in a position to look and incorporate that archaic world that is present in Brazil, where everyone is animist, want it or not. This is latent in the construction of subjectivity that people experience culturally, not because they are Brazilian, but because they live in a still fresh contact with archaisms that are constitutive of that society.”
Celebrities and anonymous figures are represented on the show. The techniques and supports used are diverse, from the digital prints The Woman Who Is Not BB (1971), made by Waldemar Cordeiro, from the iconic image of the face of a Vietnamese girl, and Kate (2011) by Vik Muniz, based on a portrait of Kate Moss; To the transposition of a familiar memory into the space of contemporary art, contrasting public and private, in José Resende's “Portrait of My Father” (1965) (photograph and acrylic box in metallic support) or the plastic sculpture “Girl with Towel in the head” (2000), by Sergio Romagnolo, which used as a model the artist's daughter.
There is also a self-portrait (1983/87) by the painter José Carlos Cezar Ferreira (Boi), famous character of the Brazilian artistic scene in the 1980s, currently little known by the public. "The curatorship highlight the experiments carried out in Brazil exploring the portrait genre, opening the show for the experience of visitors, without imposing any type of chronology or interpretation. We celebrate in this exhibition the multiple expressions of contemporary Brazilian art, taking into account the formation of the public and the perception of the 'primitive technic' in our culture", concludes Rafael Vogt.
Artur Barrio and Cristina Motta present at Anexo Millan the exhibition “AGUATÁ - ...... C .....A ...O .... S”, displaying 40 pictures from the series “Poisoned Waters”, “Traces of a work” and “Enfante”. Besides Cristina Motta’s photography, Artur Barrio appropriates the exhibition space, transforming it into his own studio. Only days before the opening, the artist creates an unique situation or experience, which can be seen by the public from March 8 until April 8.
Artur Barrio’s work challenges the traditional artistic vocabulary, in that the word "exhibition" (and its historically sedimented meaning) does not seem to suit what the artist proposes in the way he displays his art works in galleries and institutional spaces. More than extending, reducing or distorting the current meaning of concepts such as exhibition space, art work and exhibition, Barrio employs another logic, questioning what is the essence of these ideas and deliberately frustrating the expectations that guide us, as the audience, as we come across them.
By recognizing the modus operandi not only of the art system, but also systems in general (including the world system), and by not identifying with them, Barrio does not resign himself to create a work that, in opposing such systems, continues to recognize (negatively) the same essential issues. More than that, his radical poetics shows that the act of cluttering, the breakdown of boundaries, the idea of the ephemeral and the reversibility of situations are "exercises of freedom" with strong emancipatory power.
While occupying the long main hall of the Anexo Millan (opened in 2015 and located only 50 meters away from the Millan Gallery), photographer Cristina Motta presents 40 unpublished images produced in 2016, divided into three series: "Traces of a Work", "Poisoned Waters" and “Enfante”.
Passionate about painting, the artist seeks the essence of this technique through photography. This devotion is perceived when we look at her photographic works that are almost abstract in principle, but at a closer perspective they reveal a great poetic force, originated in her experiments with nature, lights, shadows and movement. Cristina Motta’s work navigates between illusion and detail, highlighting certain shades of colours, such as blue, which predominate in seemingly obscure images that reveal fragile world situations and great beauty.
The idea for this project took place in 2012, during a daytrip to Coney Island, in the outskirts of New York. On my way back to Manhattan, I began noticing strangers who were waiting to cross the street under the blistering sun of a New York summer day. Their collective posture - that of mere pedestrians waiting for the green light - made them very similar, yet, their clothes and tattoos, their anatomy, skin colour and attitude (introspective or euphoric expressions) distinguished them apart. I photographed them with my small-format Leica and kept these photos as simple mementos of a traveller. Later on, when I looked over them on my computer, an urge took over me to photograph and organise scenes like that in different places around the world, highlighting one of the most striking paradoxes of the human being, so obliviously and conspicuously registered in that first instance: that of being alike yet different, that wish to be part of a group and at the same time, the need to stand out.
This ambition of mine, to create representative panels of diverse yet generic human identities, drew me to many countries and cultures. A year later, I returned to Coney Island, this time well equipped with a medium-format camera that has as its main characteristic a very high definition, for, ideally, these photos should be amplified when exhibited in order to allow the spectator to roam its eyes over the images and to identify details that even the photographer failed to notice when releasing the shutter. I also decided to photograph more particular groups, such as the orthodox Jews of Crown Heights, the African-Americans of Harlem, as well as suited up executives on their way to work in London, on a typical English winter morning. What’s more, most of the photos derived from my fortuitous search for places where the influx of people seemed adequate to my instincts.
As I placed the camera at a zebra crossing and pointed it at pedestrians, I faced a form of instinctive suspicion. Nevertheless, as expected, I witnessed expressions of fashion, transformations of urban life and the ethnic plurality of the major metropolises – all framed by the captured scenes and characterized by the climatic conditions of each location, determining the passers-by’s clothing choices and mood.
The process of creation of these photos followed some strict principles: the takes were exclusively carried out at zebra crossings or security passages, and the people were present in reality at the locales where they are shown, even though some of them were not photographed side by side, as shown in the final copy. I made some montages in order to emphasise the very assumptions that led me to cultivate this idea. As rational as a project like this may seem, the unexpected will always pervade when dealing with the photographic decisive moment. During the years that I dedicated myself to this project, I quickly came to realize that even with a tripod in hands and a precise plan in mind, not much can be controlled when you have a camera in the middle of the streets. The streets are alive and this liveliness is imposed upon us.
Us before it
The first painting I ever saw by Guilherme Ginane depicted a chaise longue on (or in) a grey background. It makes sense to highlight the ambivalence of both positions – on and in –, because the background blended with the floor, just like the so-called seamless backgrounds in advertising photography studios. The only anchor point and reference to perspective was the shadow beneath the chaise longue. And while, on the one hand, this shadow prevented the depicted image from being reduced to the two-dimensionality of the canvas, on the other, the background disoriented the incipient perspective in a claustrophobic, disturbing trompe-l'oeil, where the infinite was both wall and floor, transparency and opacity, full and empty at the same time. There was nothing but the chaise longue and its shadow, lost in space. And I couldn’t take my eyes off of the picture, as though trying to focus on a black hole.
It wasn’t just the chaise that got me thinking (by subject matter association) about “Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles”, which Van Gogh painted to take his revenge on the bed-rest – or, even before, the disease that left him bedridden in that room. Ginane quit advertisement for painting. If advertising was his disease, it's likely that painting is his vengeance.
Of “Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles”, Italian critic Lionello Venturi wrote that “Van Gogh (…) wished to represent sleep and could not. The tragedy of his mind was approaching, heralded by signs of derangement, and it allowed him neither rest nor sleep. Calm reigns in the abandoned room, but it is a calm without hope and without pity. (…) It is a rest that is born of despair” .
The perspective in Van Gogh’s Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles, is multiple, as though, lacking a human figure, each object had obtained the right to a singular independent point of view, as though parallel universes or dimensions coexisted in the same painting, making an unstable totality, slightly distorted by the contradiction and the incompatibility of fragmentary autonomies.
Guilherme Ginane’s objects on the tabletops also have an autonomous and oddly irreconcilable existence. The cigarettes, the matches, the flower pots, the books, etc., overlap with the table, which oscillates between background and surface; they drip like paint on the canvas, they float over the table more than rest on it; they dispute the prevalence of parallel planes and incompatible perspectives with the table. There’s a fight with painting there, that has very little to do with rest.
“I used to struggle a lot with my work. I’m getting more confident now. The plane is changing, it feels like an achievement,” Ginane told me about a year ago. “Once Paulo Pasta [his former teacher] wrote that shoegazing is an insecure gaze. I’m starting to look up and other, yet unrecognized elements are popping up, light bulbs and walls where there were once cups and carpets.
The change in plane perspective and its seeming mobility result in a metamorphosis of things: the gaze that once was laid on strips of carpet at table edges now sees walls; what once was a cup now turns into a light bulb at the top of the painting. In other words, the plane turns, bends without bending, bending as though it might turn three-dimensional, yet still remains flat, and in this idle movement (the plane that turns without turning) the objects also change. The painting embeds more than one point of view, at times even incompatible points of view, in such a way that objects turn into other objects without ceasing to be the same. This coexistence in Ginane’s painting represents an arc, a change in the gazing subject’s point of view (artist and observer), and refers to an experience in the world.
The difficulty of a background that is infinite and surface at the same time, represented by the tactile evidence of the paintbrush, of the overlapped layers of paint, already played an assertive and destabilizing role in previous works: the figures in the foreground – chairs, cigarettes, cups, etc. –, lost in space, had their point of view, their three-dimensional autonomy, halted by the shallow, two-dimensional and opaque background with which they ended up merging. Even later, when the tabletops and carpets under the tables start popping up, the two planes still blend, by a telescopic effect, into the same surface. There is a tension and a viscosity between things and planes, simultaneously diverse and still unique.
At any rate, the difficulty is less of a problem than part of the solution. It sets boundaries, points the way to the painter. When he didn’t have money to buy oil paint, Ginane started working with charcoal and opened another powerful path in his work. In his adolescence he didn’t go to school for 5 years, due to a paralyzing phobic depression. “I was afraid of the wind,” he says. He’s been to doctors, tried voodoo and ended up in a psychoanalyst's office, where he discovered abstract painting (he had discovered figurative painting with a Degas ballerina poster in the hall of the building where he used to live with his mother and brother in Meier, Rio de Janeiro).
“I was dying to paint the human figure,” he says about a boundary that remains essential in his work to this day. As in “Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles”, his paintings are still lifes where the conspicuous absence of human figure, indicated only by the silent trail of cigarettes and matches, ends up referring to the presence of the eye, of the viewer.
“Literature touches me more than contemporary art. Project art is similar to advertisement. From my point of view, painting happens in painting. There is a muteness in painting, that no words can account for,” he sums up.
As opposed to an increasingly rhetorical art, Ginane chose to name his exhibition after one of the most ironic statements (“This will have been another happy day”), uttered by a motionless woman, buried up to her neck, in Happy Days, by Beckett, a writer whose work also tends toward silence.
All life is in this absence, in the battle between planes, in the paradox of the idle metamorphosis of objects and points of view, which shifts the focus to the position and to the eye of the viewer; in this silent quality (characteristic of great paintings) of blending matter and anti-matter and of putting on the canvas, through the materiality of the paint, a dimension both visible and invisible and that moves standing still, like us before it.
In "Ocidente", the second solo show by Felipe Cohen (b. 1976) at Galeria Millan, the artist from São Paulo explores and interprets the genre of landscape using geometric elements and color, in a series of paintings on wood (the series "Luz Partida"), in objects/showcases such as "Ocaso #3", "Ocidente" and "Lago", and, finally, in an intervention directly on the gallery's floor.
opening : 22 . nov . 2016 - 7 pm - 10 pm
visitation : 23 . nov - 20 . dec . 2016
tue - fri , 10 am - 7 pm ; sat , 11 am - 6 pm
Tunga, one of the most important creators of Brazilian contemporary art, died prematurely last June at the age of 64, leaving ready what would have been his next exhibition. Galeria Millan is taking the artist’s plans forward and on October 15 will launch the show "Pálpebras" at both its premises in Vila Madalena, bringing together a group of never before or rarely seen works in Brazil.
Millan’s original premises will display the "Phanógrafos", works derived from the series "Cooking Crystals" (2010). These rarely exhibited pieces are boxes that act as a recipient or support for assemblages of different objects and materials, such as bottles, wine glasses, amber, stones or scatological items. Things that, as Tunga wrote, have a “talisman quality”, and “change shape like a lantern”.
The gallery's second floor will also contain projections and drawings, aimed at broadening the way his plural and transmutable work is viewed; for example, by revealing the connections between two-dimensional and three-dimensional productions and emphasizing the importance of the line in the artist’s work.
“It will certainly not be just an exhibition of pieces. We are working on the spaces so that the art is shown at its very best. Tunga’s work will be present in the atmosphere and not just physically, in his creations”, explains André Millan, who put on the artist’s first exhibition exactly 30 years ago, in 1986.
The Anexo, the new space inaugurated last year, will house the "Morfológicas" series, organic sculptures that refer to the body; they are sensual, sometimes surreal, often erotic – reminiscent of vulvas, glans, tongues, fingers, mouths and breasts – and have originated from other works (as in the series "From la Voie Humide", in 2014), but have never been exhibited on their own in Brazil, even respecting their somewhat undefined stance between form study (as the title itself suggests) and finished work.
Initially they were merely small, hand-molded shapes in wax, with slightly larger versions (between 30 and 60 cm) emerging over time in bronze or barbotine (a type of liquid ceramic). A large-size version of one these works was originally created for the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC), in Paris. This piece, "A Seus Pés" (At your feet) is seven meters – which is normal in his work – and consists of various parts. The central element is a long, rounded shape, with claws at each end, resembling fingers pointing in different directions. One of them is pregnant, as if propagating the pods that hang from it.
Anexo Millan is pleased to present “Barro”, the new solo show by visual artist Miguel Rio Branco, one of the most prominent contemporary photographers in Brazil, and the only one who's a member of Magnum Photos, the agency founded by Cartier-Bresson and Robert Capa in 1947. The show at Anexo Millan, which opens on Saturday, 09/03, from 12 to 4 PM, is comprised of nearly 24 works created by Rio Branco from the late 1970’s to the present. “My new efforts are made from old things”, as the artist says.
The selection features over 100 photographs (singles, diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs) and a video (“Under the stars, the ashes”), which shows the variety of techniques and solutions used by the artist in constructing his works. Miguel Rio Branco’s pieces maximize the potential of the most diverse sorts of visual languages, generally achieving coherence among them. Combining very different images, Miguel suggests narrative rhythms and insinuates volumes in multiple works that point to film cutting and editing. Contrast, light and color saturation blur the lines between the images’ elements, and his compositions often present the viewer with an atmosphere of pleasure and pain, drama and lyricism in very singular and recognizable pieces in the context of Brazilian contemporary art.
Among the new solo show’s highlights are images of the Kayapó people captured in the village of Gorotire in southern Pará throughout the 1980s. Most of these records also feature in the 14-minute short film “Under the stars, the ashes”, which will be screened in full in one of Anexo's rooms. “Barro” also displays images of miners taken when Miguel was in the Serra Pelada, also in Pará; others feature Baroque elements and traditional Portuguese tiles; or animals; and still others depict shockingly devastated scorched earth landscapes. The impressive polyptych “Barro”, as yet unseen in Brazil, and for which the exhibition was named, skillfully combines elements and settings that relate to the photographs scattered around the show. Whoever enters the first room of Anexo Millan, with its 23-foot ceilings, is immediately surprised by the power of this piece and its amazing 18-image ensemble.
Galeria Millan simultaneously opens two new solo shows on March 31, by artists Emmanuel Nassar (Galeria Millan) and Henrique Oliveira (Anexo Millan).
On his new solo show at Galeria Millan, the artist Emmanuel Nassar creates a sort of game in which he mixes works from different phases and media to reinforce some of the questions that have motivated his investigations for decades. Deeply sardonical and averse to his work being classified by criteria such as date, technique or even authorship, this northern Brazilian artist – currently living partly in São Paulo and partly in Belém do Pará – decided to transform the gallery’s largest wall into a framework for a large, rhythmical collage comprising various elements. This is a clear reference to the artist’s work process, which absorbs, recreates and reconstructs items from his day-to-day life using different techniques and styles of composition. Emmanuel Nassar will also present paintings and a sculpture on the first floor of Galeria Millan.
The artist Henrique Oliveira uses the recently opened Anexo Millan to present a pot-pourri of his most recent creations and to show the public the new developments emerging from his studies. Ten years after his first solo exhibition, Henrique still shows great versatility, exploring different techniques and paths while also working on painting, sculpture and installation, with enormous national and international success. However, his more recent works contain subtle but striking changes, resulting in more harmony between the various paths the artist has forged. Rather than belonging to two completely different fields, the two-dimensional and three-dimensional languages are clearly drawing closer to each other and there is more integration between these universes. His more recent paintings, for example, seem to be making overtures to the earth and pink tones that dominate his famous installations, made with the remains of construction hoardings.