O Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC) presents from this Saturday (4/2) the exhibition stamps, in which he takes up 12 of the 80 works presented by Carmela Gross in a homonymous show, held in 1978, at the Cabinet of Graphic Arts, in São Paulo. Made by repeatedly stamping on paper, the works are now accompanied by extensive documentation – more than 300 items – that reveal the creative process of the artist, who experimented with stamps for the first time in 1968, at the IV Salão de Arte Moderna do Distrito Federal, in Brasilia, with a work that formed the design of a punch on the table.
“Each stamp, with its brand, is repeated many times on the same board, measuring 70cm x 1m, forming a pattern. I stamped one thing next to the other, until I formed this field of repeated images”, says Carmela, regarding the 1978 exhibition. “It is a large archive that I am donating to the IAC, and the institution wanted to show the process, middle and end”.
The set (works and documents), says the artist, reveals all the experiments carried out at the time, “which resulted in the production of rubber stamps, the matrix for thinking about the works”. According to Carmela, the exhibition is an “archaeology” of the original project, which presents “how it was thought and made, with all the steps of production”.
Ricardo Resende signs the curatorship, firmly backed by the systematized documentation that the artist makes of her own production, something that can also be seen in her website. “I work intensely on my archives”, says Carmela, “so this organization took years and years. It's something you couldn't do in one or even six months. Many of the stamps needed to be restored, which happened in 2015. The documents, in turn, were already organized in folders. All the material you see now at the IAC has a certain organization, mine, personal, which now becomes visible”.
For Resende, “in terms of the archive and also the montage”, the curatorship was ready. “Carmela is the de facto curator, for her systematization of this arc of production, from idea to completion, originally seen in 1978,” she says. “The IAC exhibition is eminently museological and brings out the procedural characteristic of the original work. And Carmela's work is thought, reflection, ideas. It's idea development. Therefore, procedural”.
Among the documents present is a text by art historian Flávio Motta – the original and its transcription –, in addition to journalistic articles that came out at the time, with titles that refer to the artist’s gestures: “All this in one punch”, “The complicated ones Carmela's scribbles” and “The line under a radical vision”, among others. For Resende, the titles “certainly describe and define what she did” at the time.
Carmela highlights the expography she created for the show, partly organized in three walls lined with galvanized zinc sheets, where she attached each document by means of a magnet. “The two rooms that were offered are of regular size, and the documents that would be placed there, many of them are small, just 3cm x 5cm. The material was very heterogeneous,” she says. “To make this become a reading of a set, that showed this archeology, with the zinc sheets, I could place items of any size, without any screen, without frame or glass”.
The last exhibitions by Carmela Gross took place in 2021, with unpublished works in the Galeria Vermelho (cracks, sparks) and their participation in the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, in which it showed the panel mouth of hell, composed of 160 monotypes. At the moment, the artist is working on new projects, which will be presented in 2024, in institutional spaces. Carmela points out that her creations “are closed in cycles” and that it would be difficult to make a “connection by similarity or continuity” between stamps and the most recent works, for example.
“This long cycle of stamps forms a set exhibited in 1978, and that's it. It's conceptual, which comes from drawing, and then I did other things, like the Project to Build a Heaven, which was my master’s thesis [at ECA, in 1981, under the guidance of art critic and curator Walter Zanini], and presented at the Bienal de São Paulo that same year”.
For the artist, the eventual “similarities occur much more behind the scenes, because of the concept that is embedded in them, than because of the visuality”, she says. “The context is different, the frame of thought is different and is linked to a conceptual concern, with design, with the city”. According to Ricardo Resende, Carmela Gross' production is marked by a “constructive action that runs through her entire work, as well as a graphic thought”.
For the exhibition that the IAC opens this Saturday, Resende even asked Carmela if she could remake some of the boards, “repeat the stamps”, based on the restored stamps. “The answer was very nice: she said she couldn't, because her strength at that time is not the same today”, he concludes.
Carmela Gross: Stamps
Opening: 4/2, at 12h; visitation: from 6/2 to 6/5
Curator: Ricardo Resende
Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC) – Av. doctor Arnaldo, 120/126, Sao Paulo (SP)
Hours: Tuesday to Friday, from 11 am to 17 pm; Saturday; from 11am to 16pm