"Zeitnot" (2021). Photo: Courtesy of the gallery.

*By Mateus Nunes

En São Paulo, Verve Galeria establishes its space like the root of a tree that sprouts and bursts the concrete of the city's sidewalks. Directed by the artist Allan Seabra and the architect Ian Duarte Lucas, it celebrates the possibility of a new living place for the artistic exhibition in downtown São Paulo, relating to the urban history of the city and revitalizing nostalgic spaces, such as the Louvre Building gallery, a of the city's architectural icons, located in the República neighborhood.

the last two exhibitions from Verve, At sea with the stars, by Fran Chang (whose works were on display until the end of August) and Seguso Pension, by Gustavo Rezende (opened on September 4), show the breadth of possible poetics in his curatorial discourse, with an assertive, intertwined and sensitive matrix. As much as Chang and Rezende inhabit near extremes, Verve reconciles them in a coherent narrative.

The delicacy of iron

Through a character, in the book Giovanni's room, 1956, James Baldwin writes: “Americans should never come to Europe because they will never be happy again”. Paris at the beginning of the 20th century, built by Baldwin, is rocked by the chaotic passion of the American David and the Italian Giovanni: the bohemian atmosphere, the profusion of characters and interesting and lonely people, the openness – and the almost necessity – to dialogue. . In a way, Gustavo Rezende's recent exhibition at Verve Galeria, entitled Seguso Pension, is an illustration ofGiovanni's room. As much as Rezende's spark was Venice, and not Paris, they are two transit cities, the stage for strollers and dreamy travelers.

About thirty years ago, Rezende lived for a period in Venice, the cradle and sanctuary of Western art in recent centuries. He lived next to Pensione Seguso, a hotel in the heart of the city, a five-minute walk from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, with a beautiful view of the canal. From there you can observe the fluidity of water, people, time and dreams. In a restaurant next to the hotel, Rezende photographed these spontaneous characters that interested him with his cell phone, as if building a reliquary of solitude.

Gustavo Rezende, "Pensione Seguso" (2021). Photo: Courtesy of Verve Galeria.
Gustavo Rezende, “Pensione Seguso” (2021). Photo: Courtesy of the gallery.

On the Serie Seguso Pension, composed of six three-dimensional objects, the artist allegorically represents the characters that make up this dense Venetian atmosphere. As pointed out by Ana Carolina Ralston in the exhibition's curatorial text, Venice is, for Rezende, the “place of creative crime”. He steals images that he does not choose to steal: in fact, he should accuse them of invading him intimately.

These images of solitude and introspection are engraved on vertical metal plates almost in 3×4 format. The mismatched looks and casual postures are cut in iron and painted black. They inhabit a space of remembrance between daguerreotypes, stencils, high-contrast prints, Andy Warhol's serigraphic bases and paintings by Claudius Tozzias The prison e Repression, from 1968. Rezende distances these metallic plates from the exhibition wall with screws welded to their backs, creating a three-dimensionality that provides a shadow of the silhouette of the characters on the wall. The strength of iron to weaken in light. Putting together Marshall Berman, everything solid dissolves in light.

When observing the characters portrayed by Rezende, it is inevitable to imagine their names, what they do, who they love and who loves them. It is as if we followed the same path taken by the artist, not in search of the formal details of those portrayed, but of their essences. We see, in the faces of the series Seguso Pension, all those we have already seen and those we will come to see.

the strength of silk

As a complementary counterpoint, Fran Chang's paintings, exhibited in her solo show At sea with the stars, also show how to reconcile strength and delicacy, but in an inverse way to Gustavo Rezende's exhibition.

The works, painted with acrylic paint on silk, invite touch, the temptation to handle the paintings, to place them against the light from various angles, to see their verses and to analyze the ingenuity of the wood fitting that make up the chassis on which the artist lays the veil. Chang, by using this delicate and unusual support, promotes a curiosity about the painting platform itself, questioning the technical possibilities and glimpsing how far one can go.

It is known that a haiku is constructed of two synthetic parts that, although at first glance they seem to inhabit different worlds, are connected by a cut, the kiru. This cut, paradoxically, connects these two universes and proposes the union between two hitherto irreconcilable images. The cut in Gustavo Rezende's metal plates becomes the cut in Chang's sharp words and images. This is how the artist integrates the power of her paintings with the vulnerability of her titles, from which her works cannot be dissociated. By painting a fiery cloudy sky with clouds like islands, as seen through an airplane window, the artist christens her work You are the girl you always were. On a placid beach, with a clear sky and with the horizon line formed by a mountain range, topped by a distant and lonely moon, we are accompanied by the title I fear being dragged too far. The integration between the subtlety of the painting on silk and the assertiveness of the titles is breathtaking.

Chang also focuses on astrophysics – a field to which he was also academically dedicated – and chess in his works. Analogously to the painting of images from nephology – the study of clouds – he entitles works such as zeitnot e J'adoube, both expressions of chess games that serve to refer to relationships with the other, as if love were a game. The first term, “Zeitnot”, characterizes a situation in which the player is pressed for time, causing him to make a quick decision, as if the walls that surround him were quickly choking him. The artist illustrates this moment with a top view of a clear blue sky filled with clouds with three great stars above the horizon line. Already, when painting a torrid black sky full of stars in a profuse meteor shower over the sea, with the moon at the crown of the composition, Chang translates his image with the second chess expression, “J'adoube”, used when a player announces that he will touch the pieces arranged on the board, either his or the opponent's, to adjust them to the best configuration. Perhaps this is a precious description, provided by the artist, of what love is like. I warn you that I will change your pieces so that we can do everything in the best way. From these contrasts obtained by subtlety, Chang creates an imagery and poetic atmosphere, elevating us to the stratosphere, where the air is rarefied, just like in the moment of falling in love.


*Mateus Nunes is an architect and researcher. Doctoral student in Art History at the University of Lisbon, with an exchange period at USP, where he is a researcher and guest professor. Architect and urban planner from the Federal University of Pará, in Belém. He is a professor at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) on the occasion of the course “Contemporary Art from Pará: Hybridisms, images and poetics”.
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