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.
Bernardo Carvalhodownload release
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.
Bob Wolfensondownload release
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.download release
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.download release