“THE ARTIST AS AN IMPOSTER”
By Felipe Scovino
[English version by Linda Mcgill]
Text written on the occasion of “Keep Dripping,” an solo exhibition by Alvaro Seixas at The Mercedes Viegas Contemporary Art Gallery, Rio de Janeiro, June, 2012.
Alvaro Seixas frankly approaches the problem: most of his canvases are indicative of a place, of a reference that lies between Suprematism, Abstract Expressionism, Minimalism and Post-Minimalism. Also, since they are (basically) self-referent, these canvases place the spectator facing a meaning. Therefore, it is impossible, in front of one of Seixas’s canvases, not to experiment with this reflex: we try to find an analogy, as a legend for a work is incessantly sought after by visitors to a museum while contemplating a painting. However, we seek and, evidently, we find “errors,” “lack of adjustments” in relation to the original. Here is the original, or at least – here the production of Seixas begins -- what we find — that the canvas and the revelation of an incessant enigma — are ambiguous: between the false Malevitshes, Blinky Palermos that represent “nothing,” filled with a kind of vagueness. We are dislocated to a different logic: although it can take on the quality of “imposter,” the canvas has an end: what happens in it conforms to a definite finality. His work cannot be judged by the first look because it is not about imitation, nor about inspiration.
Passing through this instance between the original and the copy, the work seeks an autonomy that ends up re the re-codifying the real one; that is, while it sets itself up as a false ghost, and, just after that, goes beyond that idea, we perceive an investigative method taking place, a careful preparation for the work, its oil layers and elaborate veils of paint. His canvas is not a reproduction or is not trying to make the spectator believe an incredible (and false) illusion of ease. His work coincides exactly with its appearance; that is, a series of works or image-filled dispensers that are clearly recognizable or recognized by the history of art. However, it is necessary to dare to affirm that they are common, banal works. However, on the other hand—and here is another quality--the appearance does not coincide with a language that is dislocated from its place, because it is made with watercolor paint. It is a work permeated with errors, imperfections and falsities that are discovered in a second look of appreciation, removed to a territory of autonomy in relation to the “matrix.” We start to analyze the work as any common painting—in the best sense that this expression can have--and, at this moment the relationship of approximation and dialog with the history of painting gains new turns and pathways.
This succession of “errors,” when put side by side, end up creating an abject condition to the works and to the territory of the gallery. The works stop dialoging among themselves—a special condition of curating—or then this dialog is done in the form of a contamination that is filled by a noise, by a kind of dirtiness. There is an atmosphere of disharmony and paradox being presented: work near the floor, or in distant corners, lesser works being “swallowed” by bigger ones, clashes between colors, shapes and scales just like the title of the exposition itself (Keep Dripping). This is more a moment of the supposed permanence that his work possesses and of its parting from the fragile idea of being named an imposter. Or better, this condition slowly transforms into a quality filled with cynicism and corrosive put down. His work becomes an infiltrating caustic agent, filled with questioning and a creative element of its own kind.
“A STRANGE LOOK
A TO BE IN THE LOOK”
By Marcus de Lontra Costa
[English version by Linda Mcgill]
Critical text written on the occasion of a solo exhibition by Alvaro Seixas, Rio de Janeiro, April, 2008
For modern art, the image of painting is an instrument of Truth. For contemporary art, the truth does not matter—the image of painting is a ghost of its own reality, ambiguous space where the real and the virtual meet and feel strange.
It is exactly this strange space, this no where, this non-concretization of physical space of action (and of representation…) that gives contemporary art its reason to be in this world, which is changing and undefined, with shapes and volumes, myths and realities, abstractions and concreteness, solids, liquids and gasses of the same material, with an intangible body. And painting survives this reality which is contrary to its essence, thanks to its incredible capacity to pretend, to represent, to elaborate discourse that refutes its redeeming role of an agent that transforms the world through a dive into its own insides in order to affirm itself as a poetic element of a projected world by way of images of its ghosts.
“The poet is a pretender/Fake so completely/ That he even fakes that pain/ The pain he should feel” (1). As Fernando Pessoa, the contemporary artist sublimates the horror through humor and elaborates a discourse full of irony, by way of conceptual antithesis and by the blunt refusal of an ethical discourse that today gives its place to the pragmatism of the present times.
That discourse of a world idealized by Modernism has been torn apart by a technological reality and by its useless ways of contact and communication. The artist, today, acts as a blend of this fragmented reality, residue of opaque material, broken glass, paintings and photography. In this great “garbage heap” everything is found, everything is mixed. That is why, for the contemporary artist, it is indifferent to work with images constructed on a canvas, printed on photograph paper or projected on a mirror. They are all there, and tired of being sleepwalkers in a museum, wandering through the streets of a city, through the four corners of the world, through reminders, memories, past and present, that are found in this strange equation of a new and admirable world without a future.
The work of the young artist, Alvaro Seixas, brings out some of these questions. Painting, drawing, photography--essentials of the plan--brings a flagrant compromise with the recent history of art. Their production immediately establishes an association with the vanguard tradition of Modernism, in dialog with informal abstraction and with a constructive synthesis. To them the artist adds a graphic link remembering pop art and it is through this selection that Alvaro composes the basis of his formal repertoire. If the instruments of his artistic acts are, essentially remembrances of recent history, the irony and a type of “bad feeling” that his work contains are characteristic of contemporary thinking. The formal elements are not structured as agents of modernist Truth. On the contrary, they are objects of a strange feeling, without clear definition, or going beyond their own outlines by the rigid limits of their supports. This tension between formal elements and the locale of artistic action provokes an intelligent and curious visual equation that the artist knows how to explore.
All the work of a young artist necessarily brings his/her present, the real and visible fact, the “Work,” and also brings, inevitably, the projection of his/her future, of his/her devenir, of his/her projection in future time. Alvaro Seixas finds himself at the beginning of the road, the start of a pathway. There is in him a restlessness desired by real artists. We should still believe that in the middle of the unsettled murmuring of the world where we live, art can still be a powerful instrument od transformation of the real, giving value to what human beings have of essence and value: the capacity to create, as the young artist, Alvaro Seixas, a language based on the intelligence and sensibility of experimentation in the world.
1. Autopsicografia, Fernando Pessoa