Paul Klee, A Face Of The Body, Too, 1939. Colored glue and oil on paper on card, gift from Livia Klee

Tentacular, the exhibition by Paulo Klee on display at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) in São Paulo presents a diversified portrait of the artist, allowing the expression of all his genius. Evidently, his protagonism in modern art and his absolutely personal style – in dialogue with several of the hegemonic currents of the first half of the 120th century – are at the base of the show, which features more than XNUMX works. However, the higher quality of unstable equilibrium resides in the strategy of showing not a single and coherent trajectory of the painter, but rather illuminating different aspects of his life and work, composing a panorama – evidently not exhaustive – of multiple issues dear to Klee and his time.

Thus, what could be a traditional retrospective that endorses the official narrative about the trajectory of a deeply coherent and prolific artist, ends up spreading through different researches, themes, techniques and moments. This approach by chapters, which respects a tenuous chronology, also responds to the difficult architecture of the space, fragmented into multiple rooms disconnected from each other. With this, the visitor accompanies the artist since childhood, in a set of simple drawings, representing, for example, family Christmas scenes. The presence of such pieces in the exhibition is explained both by the importance of the Zentrum Paul Klee (Swiss institution that organizes the show and deposits his work) for the preservation of its history, as well as by the curious fact that the painter himself included these works, which their criterion would already present “productive autonomy”, in the exhaustive record that kept the entire life of their production.

Paul Klee, Woman in Traditional Costume, 1940, Colored glue on paper on card.

Little by little, the visitor follows his path, witnesses through selected works his desire to improve himself in the academic study of the human body (which had already cost him a place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich in 1898) and the subsequent release of an art that only reproduces the visible; the interesting studies that he carried out in the first decade of the 1901th century, entitled “Inventions”, in which he created strange figures, precociously surreal, with a certain irony and acidity; the importance of trips such as those he made to Italy (1912), France (1914) and above all to Tunisia (XNUMX); the presence of the family (in the portraits and puppets she made for her son); the discovery of color; and the intense relationship with other forms of artistic expression such as music and theater.

The movements are complementary, combining remarkable biographical facts with their main lines of research and study, such as the more expressionist works, developed in the 1910s (when he participated in the “Der Blaue Reiter” group, with artists such as Kandinsky and Macke) or the persistent drawings of geometric models that he made in the several years he was a professor at the Bauhaus, a period in which he dedicated himself to understanding and synthesizing the formal relationships of plastic representation. Sometimes the visitor is put in contact with works that mark his relationship with the world around him, sometimes he has before him the result of a constant effort to dominate and create a new art. Extremely disciplined, Klee made it a rule not to go a day without drawing a line.

Paul Klee, Hanging Down, 1939, Colored glue and pencil on paper, gift from Livia Klee

Despite the importance normally attributed to the artist's contribution to the development of abstraction in modern art, there were few opportunities for the Brazilian public to see his production up close, as shown by Roberta Saraiva Coutinho in a study published in the catalog of unstable equilibrium. This absence is even stranger if we take into account the great influence – formal or theoretical – of his research on local modernism, in a dialogue at a distance that the Zentrum Paul Klee intends to better map and present to the Swiss public in the future.

The show mainly includes drawings (80% of its production is made up of works on paper), among which an impressive group of images stand out, sketched quickly, in the heat of the moment, in which he comments with acidity on the tragic events leading up to World War II. These quasi-caricatures, in chalk on card, show scenes such as the repulsive figure of the dictator or the horrors experienced by emigrants, those persecuted by the Hitler regime and which are part of a set of around 250 illustrations. Klee himself was a victim of Nazism. In addition to having works of his own at the exhibition of degenerate art organized by the Reich in 1937, he was accused of being Jewish, had his house searched, lost his job and was forced to flee to Switzerland, his country of birth, in 1933. .

Another group of works worth mentioning is the set of drawings of angels, at the same time human and supernatural, fallen and beautiful. There is, for example, “Anjo Esquecido” (1939), whose delicacy and modesty – with joined hands and wings – is touching. Also present in the selection, which after São Paulo goes to the institution’s units in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, is Klee’s most famous angel, “Angelus Novus”, from 1920, who goes down in history as an emblematic image of the theses on Walter Benjamin's concept of history. Acquired by Benjamin in 1921, the work belongs to the Israel Museum and rarely travels, but the Zentrum Paul Klee made available for the Brazilian exhibition a faithful and certified copy of this image which, according to the German philosopher, works as an allegory of history, which sees with terror the destruction of the past as it is propelled into the future by that storm "which we call progress."

The “confluence between the connection between a vision of the world and the pure plastic exercise”, as defined by the artist himself, finds its synthetic expression in works such as “Riscado da Lista”. The canvas, painted in 1933, shows the image of a man, quite possibly a self-portrait, of a man in profile, with a sad face, with a cross on his head and the weight of the world on his shoulders. “Klee has always tried to unite creative relationships, of content and form, with existential, ideological, ethical issues”, summarizes the curator Fabienne Eggelhöfer, reiterating the idea of ​​balance expressed in the title.

Paul Klee: Unstable Equilibrium
Until April 29
Banco do Brasil São Paulo Cultural Center:
Rua Álvares Penteado, 112 – Downtown, São Paulo – SP

1 comment

  1. I'm looking forward to seeing Unstable Equilibrium in Rio de Janeiro. Do you already have a due date?

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