Matthew Moreira
Mateus Moreira, "Frensi" (2022). Photo: Eduardo Ortega/Courtesy Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel

The idea of ​​destruction, rubble, loss and astonishment runs through the more than 30 works displayed in the exhibition. Tragedy!, on display until October 15, at the Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel Shed, in São Paulo. Invited last year to design an exhibition referring to 100 years of Modern Art Week de 1922, Raphael Fonseca he preferred not to make a montage directly connected to the event, he was looking for something more subtle and with historical appeal, an element dear to his curatorial investigations.

In his research on events that took place that year, Fonseca found mention of an earthquake in the city of Mogi Guaçu, in the interior of São Paulo, which took place just two weeks before the famous modernist meeting at the São Paulo Municipal Theater. The earthquake served him as a “fictional starting point”, as he says, to establish links between the Week of 1922, the bicentennial of Independence, celebrated in September, and the Brazilian elections, with what is tragic and rupture in these three moments.

“I kept connecting the dots and thinking about these narratives. I already had in mind, more clearly, that I would need to have, in the project, artists who deal, to a certain extent, with a certain phantom, a notion of tragedy. But I was not interested in doing a literal exhibition”, says the curator. “So, I didn't just want to have works that illustrate the idea of ​​the tragic, but that echo it, through materials, colors, etc.”

Fonseca points out that, in the end, many of the works by the 13 artists listed for the exhibition are made with “remains of things” and, “like it or not, they have something of rubble”. Most of these artists present works made especially for the show, with the exception of Ivens Machado (1942-2015) and Sonia Andrade, whose video Untitled (1977) is on display. According to him, the selection was a “very organic” process and, immediately, some names came to his mind, such as Gilson Plano and Mayana Redin. Also the idea of ​​destruction and remains arises when contemplating the works.

“Many of these works use materials found in the trash, in rubble, cheap things you buy or even pick up on the street. Anderson Borba, for example, used wood that came from the fire Museum of Portuguese Language. And then there's Mayana with the iron bars, Gabriela Mureb's pulleys, copper and brick in the creation of Carla Chain, or Gilson's leather and stones", he exemplifies, pondering: "It's not a recycling exhibition, but the materials are linked to a certain notion of disposal. Which ends up contributing to the semantic field of the earthquake”.

There was, however, a challenge for Tragedy! in the first room of the Galpão: to display the works so that they would not go unnoticed in the face of the grandiose architecture of the place. To this end, Fonseca invited Renato Pera to create a wallpaper in the first and largest room, on which some of the works were displayed. The idea, by the way, comes from a search, on the part of the curator, to escape the usual sequential arrangement of works.

“The result is a very scenic game. In a way, it doesn't feel like anything I've done before, and it reveals a growing interest in me to do something half-spectacular. To think of the exhibition as something really close to a spatial thought, a spectacle, a scenario, and not a white cube or the interior of a house, in which you will decorate, placing objects here and there”, he says.


Two of the artists selected for the exhibition are also participating in the eighth edition of the Bolsa Pampulha artist residency program, curated by Fonseca and Amanda Carneiro (MASP), and promoted by the Pampulha Art Museum (MAP), in Belo Horizonte (MG): the miners Lucas Emanuel and Mateus Moreira. Both painters, they took very different works to the exhibition space at Galpão, in Tragedy!.

“Lucas is a painter who works with video as well. He plays with the relationship between the two supports in his works. He has a painting that deals a lot with the human body, but always with a strangeness. A somewhat funereal, dark, mysterious tone. In the video 'Compasso', for example, a mattress appears, shoes are around it, and there is even a candle, which is going out. It seems like a spiritist session, there is an expectation that something will happen, but it's just the candle there, going out”, comments Fonseca.

For the curator, Luke is interested in a cruder kind of image, while Matthew is a “virtuous”. “If Lucas' painting has a very strong relationship with the body, Mateus' painting seeks to have scenes. They are very complex images, with several things happening at the same time, in a theatrical character. And often, in this theatrical character, there is something tragic, violent. There are monstrous and fantastical elements too,” he says.

Untitled, the diptych presented in the exhibition Tragedy! by Lucas Emanuel, brings a “duel of images, in the political context of the elections, with people back to back”, according to the artist. In one of the paintings, the sky appears over a larger portion of the surface; in another, it is the land that takes up the most screen space. Symbolically, he says, there is a reference to heaven and hell, also used in a bluer tone, on one side, and earthy, on the other.

already in the video Compass, the artist shows shoes that he has been collecting on the street over time, “like traces of a tragedy, somewhat morbid objects, but, at the same time, fetish objects”, he says. “The answer to the show's argument appears in the sense of an enclosure, in a space that could be a wake, but also a party or an intimate environment. There is the idea of ​​an event that seems to have happened or will happen. In the audio, there's also a leak of sound, of people talking, with a certain incarceration aesthetic. But there is an absent figure, in a game with the notion of a loss.”

Mateus, on the other hand, states that, faced with the argument proposed by Fonseca, he soon associated Tragedy! to the idea of ​​disorder, chaos and violence. “Thinking about it, all these concepts came together in the painting in a dense, cloudy and claustrophobic atmosphere. The traces of these events, of this tragedy, tangled up and became nebulous bodies that were only illuminated by the fire, which brings so much this stigma of devastation, but also of renewal”, says the artist.

Mateus also says that each work created was motivated by the “premise of ruin” which, for him, became the “everyday feature that is increasingly present in civilization”. The artist considers the works created for the exhibition to be a milestone in his career. “But perhaps this would not have been possible if the theme had not fit in so well with the desires that motivate my production. When investigating memory and imagination, within the current context of my life, it has been almost impossible to detach from work the symptoms of the dystopian experience of the contemporary world”, he argues.

In addition to Machado and Sonia, Raphael Fonseca sought, for the show, works by young contemporary artists, already with a consolidated career, such as Adriana Varejao. From the beginning, the curator and Adriana had in mind to make something out of her experiences with cracked textures. “She then had the idea of ​​proposing a work around Zé Celso and the Workshop Theater. Knowing the relationship with the earthquake and the ghost of the Semana de Arte Moderna, the argument of the show, Adriana found it interesting to establish an arc, a connection between the two things”, explains Fonseca.

Adriana points out that the crackling of her work, entitled Tribute to Zé Celso, “reminds a little of the tectonic plates, which are the origin of earthquakes”, in an allusion to the earthquake of 1922. “The work more or less comments on this logic, this mechanics, this issue of plate movement. At the same time, when Raphael talks about tragedy, with an exclamation point, it has a double meaning. Because it refers to the Week of 22, which would represent the whole issue of modernism, the attempt to bring modern updates to the tropics, from avant-gardes that were happening in Europe”, comments the artist.

On the other hand, Adriana continues, tragedy also evokes Greek theater. A tragedy that Zé Celso uses, according to her, in a special way: “Making a parody, at the same time creating something very original. So, I take this speech and appropriate it, I go to the other side. I think of São Paulo, of tragedy, by free association one can also think of Zé Celso and his Oficina. Zé Celso created this term, Sampã [which is written on his board] for the show Anthropophagous Macumba, evoking the Greek myth of Pan, playing with the gender issue of the city. There are several fictional paths that respond to the provocation that Raphael brought”, concludes Adriana.


Until October 15st
shed of Forts D'Aloia & Gabriel: Rua James Holland 71 – Barra Funda, São Paulo (SP)
Visitation: Tuesday to Friday, from 10 am to 19 pm; Saturday, from 10 am to 18 pm

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