View of the work of Ascânio MMM, Quasos/Prisma1 (2019). PHOTO: Leonor Amarante

Sculpture, through rotation, change of scale and location, can subject the viewer to a series of displacements and different perceptions. This happens in the show. Prisma, exhibition by Ascânio MMM on display at the Casa Triângulo gallery. Author of a synthetic concretism, with impeccable design and formal cleanliness, the Portuguese/carioca artist reaches the age of 78 still surprising. Ascânio's current territory is made up of similar materials and takes a small aluminum square as a module that is repeated serially.

The firm and sharp curatorship of the critic and architect Guilherme Wisnik allows the oversized and increasingly spatial scale works to take advantage of the gallery's ceiling height. “The decision was to concentrate the new works in this show, all in aluminum, some of them with colored sides and which are in the large room of the gallery”. However, there are still older works in the small room and one outside. Some reveal a discreet kineticism that occurs due to the stains produced by the wall when we approach the piece. “It is an active perception that raises an important phenomenological question. Color halos are the keynote of the new works. An evident neoconcretism in which perception changes depending on where you are”. Ascânio does not work under the sign of color, but with the evidence of space creating energy zones. Side cuts, surface leaks articulate these objects with real space. The surface is no longer a protected place for representation, but a way of integrating itself into the architectural space.

The sculptor, who has worked as an architect, is a great builder capable of talking technically about a piece for a long time. In his studio in Rio de Janeiro, he has four permanent employees who work with him doing everything. There is no industrial design in its production, except for the ink used.

The artist started in art in 1966, when he was still studying at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism (FAU) in Rio de Janeiro, and then followed in parallel with his work as an architect. “When I arrived in Rio, I joined Belas Artes just to improve my drawing, because my main objective was to go to architecture school. The option to become an artist came after I experienced art.”

His sculptural thinking is constructive and contemplates engineering, architecture and design. Wisnik emphasizes the sculptor's mastery over space and spatiality. “It is not only the spatiality of volume, but also the spatiality of perception”. On the large sculpture suspended from the ceiling, he compares it, due to the volume that arrives so light on the floor, to the pillars of the MAM in Rio.

Ascânio took sculpture to a process that acts between control and causality. This game of chance generated, the notable surprise of the show, a hollow sculpture, cylindrical, playful, with a strip that can be manipulated by the spectator exactly in its half, a kind of version of another sculpture, the same, but rigid, both with mirrors on the floor. which transform them into an infinite image. “Seeing one and the other is good because it poisons this logic”. All of Ascânio's work comes from the Brazilian constructive tradition more linked to rigid form. “This softening of the screw in the middle of the sculpture causes reflexivity, torsion and bending resulting from the deconstruction of the constructed geometric mesh”.

He centralizes all stages of the production process and says that the path between the idea and the execution of the work is similar to the methodology of Alexander Calder, inventor of mobiles, not in relation to his work, but in its procedure. In both there is a combination of sculpture, painting and space, although their works are different. “Just like me, Calder draws, cuts the plate, paints, assembles, everything goes through him.”

At 78 years old, instead of slowing down, the sculptor follows a continuous flow of creation, reinventing his work. To arrive at the pieces in the exhibition, he worked and reworked each one for months until he had the desired shapes. Ascânio radicalized the sculptural practice, assuming the work as an instrument and not as an end.

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