Janaina Barros, As for Bitita's Dolls Play.

On the road since 2018, the show Black Background, after exhibition in Ribeirão Preto and São Carlos, now arrives in São Paulo, at Sesc Vila Mariana. The exhibition is under the responsibility of Claudinei Roberto, an artist who also asserts himself as a curator interested in Afro-descendant artistic production (but not only).

The São Paulo edition draws attention for the amount of works by the 14 invited artists, totally in conflict with the cramped space destined for the show. A pity, because we know that the success of an exhibition is not linked to the number of pieces displayed, on the contrary: the important thing is to prevent excess. Walter Zanini stated that, in an exhibition, the work of art must come first. Then everything that should value it. What does that mean? In an exhibition, the protagonism must be of all the exhibited works and of each work in particular. Regardless of the party adopted to gather them, the theme or subject, or even the importance already assumed by the authors of the works (or by the person responsible for the exhibition), what counts are the conditions given so that each work can be given to the exhibition. full, without obstacles, without impediments, so that the spectator can establish direct contact with each work in particular, without one interfering with the other due to excessive proximity.

Is it possible to establish relationships between the works that are exhibited? Of course I do. It is even desirable that this occurs, as long as these relationships do not mean compromising the perception of each of the works in their particularities. Unfortunately, this care is not seen in Black Background. The interest in showing as many pieces as possible by each artist ended up hampering the full view of most of the works on display.

Having highlighted this issue, it must be said, however, that Black Background  overcomes any expographic problem, insofar as it successfully manages to carry out its main objective: to highlight the profound diversity of paths that today in São Paulo presents Afro-descendant production (most of the artists represented were born or live in the city or state). If in the set of works the presence (diffuse or more intense, depending on each artist) of the traumas of the African diaspora can be perceived, informing the respective subjectivities of their authors, Claudinei Roberto also makes an effort, and successfully, to present works by distant authors. of these questions, demonstrating that the Afro-descendant artist does not necessarily need to be identified only as one who explicitly deals with the past and present dramas of his people.

The works of Rosana Paulino and Sidney Amaral represent in Black Background, two artists who manage/have managed, each in their own way, to introject into their aesthetic concerns issues inherent to the specificities of their personal histories in relation to the collective history of Brazilian Afro-descendants. And they do it very well: if Amaral had his process interrupted by such an early death (which did not prevent him from making an original contribution to Brazilian art), Paulino has been establishing herself as one of the main artists of her generation for her ability to shape aesthetic/artistic rigor to questions about the history of Afro-descendants in Brazil and also about an art history that intends to be hegemonic in the country.

If the productions of the two artists are, in fact, the most potent of Black Background, the collages and embroideries by Janaina Barros also draw attention, dazzling for the delicacy of the craft, but, above all, for the fine irony of the narratives evoked. Fortunately Janaina is far from having become another Leonilson emulator. If here or there, there is still some resonance in the works of that artist, impossible not to consider the singularities of his production when discussing gender and race through deliciously unusual plastic solutions.

André Ricardo's production, in turn, presents a young man immersed in painting, in the intertwined game between light and planes, in which the reference to reality is just a motto for achievements in the pictorial field. It is impossible to stand in front of his productions and not perceive resonances of the recent “painting from São Paulo”, the works of Marco Gianotti, Paulo Pasta and Fábio Miguez, which André studies and seeks to overcome. Finally, I mention the roles of Washington Silveira. The production that represents him in the show points to the process of formulating a poetics in frontal clash with today's brutalized daily life. He is a young man who deserves to be followed.


Black Background, by presenting such varied and powerful talents, justifies what he came for because he managed to encompass the potency and variety of the younger Afro-descendant production (not because of the age of the artists presented, but because of the freshness of their productions). Do you sin for the large amount of works exhibited in such a small space? Certainly, but this fact does not detract from the exhibition's interest, especially due to the curator's ability to not be limited solely to a certain type of production, allowing the diversity of paths presented there to oxygenate our eyes and minds.


1 comment

  1. I am grateful for the constructive comment by Professor Tadeu Chiarelli when he critically and objectively comments on the choice made by this curator to maintain the amount of works in the space destined for them, it should, however, be noted that the peculiarities and difficulties of an itinerant exhibition are also present in the elaboration and/or adaptation of the spaces destined to it that vary, in spite of the possible “congestion” of works in the space, I believe that, as Professor Chiarelli mentions, the exhibition has the merit of highlighting the strength of a production that has poetic vocations distinct are thick and powerful in their formatting and I think that a reading that stops at the possible formulation of the dialogues between these propositions has the codon of revealing the potential force of the exhibition.

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