André Komatsu, Perishable Reality #14, 2018, 3 x 630 x 420 cm, fiberglass canvas, wood, water-based enamel paint and acrylic varnish on concrete

At 40 years old, the artist André Komatsu has a series of very important shows in his curriculum, having participated in the Brazilian delegation at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and in two consecutive Mercosul Biennials, in 2009 and 2011. The artist shares a space with a friend in Belém, at the beginning of the East Zone. The 400 m shed2 it is basically used for ideas to take shape, ideas that arise anywhere, whether in a hotel room or even during an exchange with the public.

Komatsu is a questioning artist, and he's not afraid of it. His anti-system stance (or even in the plural) is an important factor in his work, from the beginning: “We need to understand that the social structure has never changed. Understanding that what we are experiencing today, for example this ultra-liberal uprising, is a development of mercantilism, of the bourgeoisie, when they began to understand that the State could be a vehicle for accumulating capital”, comments the artist.

He comes from a group that performed a lot at the beginning of their career, between 1999 and 2000: “It used to be much more visceral. I come from a group that grew up at a time when the art market was not as big as it is now. It had almost nothing. And it was a group of artists that people didn't have money for”, he says. Since then, he has worked with various modalities, from engraving to performance to installation: “Back then, you could make do with anything. Material I picked up on the street. Or I performed because I didn't need to spend money…”. Until he started to really make a living from his creations, Komatsu worked as a private driver, teacher and bartender.

Voluntary servitude, work relationships, the systematization of actions, the objectification of the subject are some of the points that André works on as an artist, placing himself as a thinker who investigates ethics, politics and society. He often uses reflections on architecture and civil construction to talk about it, for example in works such as the series Perishable Reality, in which he presents texts written on thin canvases made of concrete, which simulate a type of curtain. So fragile that they fall apart with time and handling, disintegrating words like “progress”, “the new world” and even the phrase “today as yesterday”, taken from a Nazi newspaper. The structural and the crumbling of the structure appear as analogies, as he admits: “I believe that things only change with the breakdown of structures”.

Another series linked to words, more specifically to communication, recently shown in the solo exhibition dark starAt Galeria Vermelho, Social Agreement shows newspapers collected from several countries whose “names establish a watchword”, regardless of the editorial line: O Mundo, A República, O Manifesto. Komatsu covers the newspaper with lead plates, leaving only the name visible: “I isolate the information, making a relationship with today's reflection, where the information is there but veiled, which are the truths that end up directing the public”.

The discussions that the artist seeks to bring are closely linked to his theoretical basis. Readings are frequent and indispensable for him: “The books I end up reading are very connected to Philosophy. It has nothing to do with art. I rarely read about art,” he explains, fearing that reading about art will reduce everything to a microcosm: “I try to understand something else. And I use art for that.” For this, he focuses on authors such as Michel Foucault and Vilém Flusser.

André's questions add up to a representation of reality, seeking to follow contemporary issues and also looking to the past. From references to the candangos that built Brasília to those involving the recent water crisis in São Paulo, André gets involved with a kind of preservation of History, after all: “When you erase History, you erase the understanding of reality”.

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