Carlito Carvalhosa, It Was Like This When I Arrived, 2019
Carlito Carvalhosa, It Was Like This When I Arrived, 2019 - photo Ricardo Ferreira

The opening of new units, as the newly opened space in Guarulhos, not only increases the network of people served, offering the local population a wide range of assistance, sports and cultural services, but also makes something unfortunately still scarce in the country possible: the existence of a generous and that gives shelter to artistic production, so that it can be carried out in direct contact with a much more diversified public and often far from the traditional circuit of museums, galleries and fairs.

Just enter the new building, which in its first weekend received 24 visitors, to realize the importance of art in the general context of the project. The space is punctuated, in a subtle way or with an undisguised impact, works made especially for the place or hand-selected from the institution's technical reserve. Signed by a wide range of artists, the works are of different authorship and genres, ranging from anonymous artisans, such as the authors of the ex-votos that make up a panel installed in the entrance hall, to important names in the contemporary scene. Altogether more than 15 authors, some with various creations (such as Leonilson and Sidney Amaral), sign the works.

On the facade of Sesc, still outside, a large sculpture by Sérvulo Esmeraldo welcomes visitors. It is a piece of great simplicity, which contrasts with its colossal dimensions, over ten meters high: two squares, one white and one blue, which partially touch each other and activate the space around them, like drawings that strive to acquire a three-dimensional force.

Adriana Varejão, works from the series Tintas De Polvo
Adriana Varejão, works from the series Tintas De Polvo

Right at the entrance, in fine tuning with the airy architecture of Renato and Lilian Dal Pian, a monumental sculpture in plaster by Carlito Carvalhosa was installed. With a shape similar to that of the Pão de Açúcar hill, in Rio, and hanging upside down in the void, with the help of an iron structure and thick rods that connect it to the walls of the building, the piece attracts perplexed eyes, who wonder about the permanent and at the same time unstable and precarious character of a heavy, inverted mountain that floats in the air.

Despite being probably the most impressive of the new unit, the piece by Carvalhosa, It was already like this when I arrived, is not the only major work specially conceived for space. In the same hall, occupying a long wall on the second floor of the building, is the panel created by Adriana Varejão. Composed of seven large circles with geometric and organic shapes, the mural painting is part of a project already developed by the artist for some time, in which she investigates the wide range of skin colors of Brazilians, the problematic issue of self-identification  in a society marked by a strong, even if disguised, racism.

It is interesting to point out that the choices of permanent works for the new space do not intend to reinvent poetics. On the contrary, the proposal enhances the reach of works of art – largely due to the prominence and generosity of the space granted to them –, without, however, sacrificing their connection with the particular poetics of each of the authors. The grandeur and specificities of a cultural center with wide circulation do not lead to an abandonment of the research of the invited artists. On the contrary, it opens up a possibility for them to make something possible that, in practice, is almost impossible in our dense and fragmented urban centers. This is the case, for example, of the gigantic painting Flowing landscape, created by Janaina Tschäpe for the gym and which establishes an interesting visual parallel with the adjoining core of the pools. Or the work of Eduardo Frota, composed of two huge pieces that belong to his well-known series of spools, located in the garden. The difference is that, in this case, we opted for replacing the already traditional wooden profiles with steel, a more resistant material for long-term exposure.

It is curious to note how the artist manages, despite the massive character of iron, a paradoxical aspect of lightness. In addition to the precision with which it is built, with a perfect fit of hundreds of overlapping steel rings, the sculpture is hollow inside, making it possible to see the sky through it and giving a certain transparency to the brutality of the metal.

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