Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Douglas Messerli | "Building Art" (on Hauser & Wirth's show "Building Material: Process and Form in Brazilian Art")

building art

by Douglas Messerli


“Building Material: Process and Form in Brazilian Art” / Los Angeles, Hauser & Wirth, September 14-October 18, 2017. Howard Fox, Pablo Capra, and I attended this show on October 4, 2017.


As part of the Getty Trust sponsored “Standard Time: LA/LA” program the Hauser and Wirth gallery in Los Angeles is showing a spectacular show on Brazilian artists titled “Building Material. Process and Form in Brazilian Art.” Along with the concrete art show, “Making Art Concrete: Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros” now at the Getty, and the Anna Maria Maiolino show at MOCA (which I previous reviewed), Angelinos now begin the wonder at the remarkable diversity and originality of the Brazilian art world.

      The Hauser & Wirth show takes as its base works of art from the brilliant Brazilian painter, photographer, and designer, Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998). Also associated with the concrete art movement, de Barros created his own images in painting, collage, and photography that featured deconstructionist modes that included works in which “the ephemeral, the fragment, the time, the discontinuous, and the action are present.”

      The works in this show include a photograms from 1949/2014, a stunningly beautiful photograph consisting of lines and blocks of space in white, gray, and black from the same period, “Fotoforma”; a untitled collage on paper from 1996-1998; a beautiful painting that pairs nicely with “Fotoforma,” also untitled, from 1979; a untitled work of plastic laminate on wood with off-centered red, blue, and yellow, rectangles, each presented in slightly different angles, which creates a strange sense of dislocation and perspective; and two rectangular floating collages,

From 1980 both titled “Estudos.” Other stunning photograms and silver gelatin prints on fiber paper include city landscapes (“Untitled [Granada, Spain]”), and combines of modernist chairs (de Barros founded the furniture production co-op called UNILABOR), in “Unilabor Chair (Sâo Paulo])” from 1954/2014.

      Together these are some of strongest works of the show, and represent the heart of this small show. But what the curators describe as “echoes” are often equally strong works by later, younger artists such as Celso Renato, whose untitled acrylics on wood are stunning abstractions; Paulo Monteiro, who works with industrial materials such as iron, aluminum, cement,  stone, wood and even curtain ribbon; Ivens Machado, who works in similar materials; Nuno Ramos, whose art is created out of raw cotton, untreated canvas and calcium hydroxide; Rodrigo Cass, working in concrete and tempera on linen; Lucas Simões, also working on concrete, steel and linen; and the highly inventive Erika Verzutti, who creates works made out of papier mache, polystyrene and wax, as well as creating works, such as “Porn Star,” using concrete, stainless steel and acrylic. One of my favorite pieces of the show was Verzutti,  “Flowers,” from this year, 2017.

      In short, the title of this show says it all. These abstract artists created their abstractions using what many might describe as industrial or building materials, embracing the very substances of the architectural structures in which their works would hang. And, in that sense, it is particularly appropriate for their art to now appear, brief as it is (the show closes on October 18), in the former industrial space of Hauser & Wirth.


Los Angeles, October 11, 2017

Reprinted from Art Là-bas (October 2017).


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