PASSADOS / PAST

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THE PAINTING AND | OF GUSTAVO RIZÉRIO

Through out the modernist movement, painting went through unprecedented ruptures in the history of Art: it was freed from traditional functions and references external to its nature, such as the illusion of the tridimensional space and the volume over the plane and it got rid of the relationship it had with literature and mythology reaching the autonomy of its code, its elements and its means. Several currents of modernism had their major revolutions in two-dimensional area: Impressionism revealed, in its subject matter and in the pictorial gesture, the experiences with light; Expressionism transform the canvas in a battle field between the subject and the world; Cubism decomposed the object and its representation; Fauvism consolidated the expressiveness of color as the intrinsic element of painting; Geometrical Abstractionism presented a rational world, without external references and subject to its own logic; Abstract Expressionism blew up the representation space and revealed the act of painting; and finally the Hard Edge imposed the awareness of the limits of the plane.

The radical changes that painting went through over the late nineteenth century until the middle of the twentieth century, took it to the limit of its structure, ridding it from any impurities that could contaminate its immaculateness. According to the formalist interpretation of Clement Greenberg, the purity of painting, created by means of its formal independence, led to the awareness of the plane. During this period, the painters investigated the flatness phenomenon, the particularities of the two-dimensional space in its highest expression, revealing the only characteristic painting didn’t share with any other art forms.

Until the end of the 50s, the researches in painting led the questioning of the plastic universe. However, these researches also came to exhaustion and saturation of their capacity for innovation. In the 60s, a rebellion took place within the artistic system, influenced by Du Champs propositions, and painting’s prestige was shaken. Painting was either abandoned or seen as ineffective before the current aesthetic issues, having been decreed dead countless times by artists, critics and academics. For two decades, painting was subdued to the margins and to the feeling that one could not build anything serious with the manipulation of that means.

However, at the end of the 70s and during the 80s, with the appearance of criticism of the evolutionary theory of history of art, painting could return to the scene with great interest. Heated debates about post-modernism were raised, which legitimized the emphatic resumption of painting in the world. Such resumption of painting reinvigorated not only the issues of modernism but also the traditions it opposed. The pictorial production practiced in this period was based on “historical reference”, in second generation simulacrum and in references drawn from national contexts. In addition, it began to blend the scholarly imaginary with Pop and to manipulate abstract painting techniques to create figurative work, demonstrating the plasticity of its constituent means: plane, color, touch and the materiality of paint.

The Italian Transavangarde, the German Neo-Expressionism and Brazilian 80s Generation were important movements which gave painting its former prestige back. From the 80s on, the painting no longer suffered the attacks which were wearing it down, and despite having gone through the euphoria of its return to the circuit and having to now share space with other categories, painting remained open to its potential.

In his first individual exhibition titled Blues, the young painter from Goiás, Gustavo Rizério, is moving towards exploring the potential of painting. His work, though unconsciously, are involved in a web of relations with art history, as if crossing over between codes of different genealogies were being promoted in order to generate a hybrid being, from whom it is not required to meet a commitment of separation between figuration and abstraction, and between past and present.

The references that appear in his production connect it to certain elements of the painting history of Europe and Goiás, from an expressionist strand. The work of Gustavo Rizério shares the principles of expressionism as it reflects the subjective experience of conflict between the subject and the world. However, his expressionist trait is shaken by other influences from different trends, such as the appropriation and manipulation of images derived from Pop. The artist has the ambition to reflect the individual’s truth and the wildness of his impulses, he tries to express the anguish and suffering of his soul. Nevertheless, when his subjectivity meets the elements of art history, when he reveals his drama based on composition structures formulated by Francis Bacon or Siron Franco, the most primitive soul expression and his internal flows are cooled down, resulting in the display of the controversial relation with the world, among frames of already known plastic systems.

The existential drama, the daily crisis and the nightmare are mediated by a syntax based on a repertoire of images, generated by the conflicts of subjectivity, in the exercise of criticizing the mismatches of humanity. But how a young artist can address this criticism nowadays? This is the question that arises from paintings by Gustavo Rizério.

The paradox created by the mixture of figurative and abstract paradigms, the graphic and the pictoric,  carries tensions from one work to another and even within a single piece. The figuration of Rizério is extracted from life and media, and establishes a connection with the world of photography. Images come from life as the artist captures real life models in the streets, such as the old beggar from a beach in California (USA), surrounded by fake lace with her toothless smile, her miserable joy mixed with madness; or the boy photographed at a party in Trinity (GO) who is encapsulated by a kind of mask and surrounded by graphic ornaments. From the media, they come as photographic and illustrative images, published in books and magazines that the artist takes over and displace to the pictoric plane, such as a group of elders, taken from a British book, who create a theatrical scene in his works. Poverty, abandonment, hidden childhood and old age are the problematic issues which reveal the problematic trajectory of human beings and that the artist inserts in his work, by means of the manipulation of these images.

The abstraction occurs between the pictorial and graphic using seemingly informal processes – recalling Tachisme and the Action Painting – but in part deliberate, providing flats, monochromatic spaces, containing organic shapes, which sometimes suggest something erotic, phallic, and some other times, refer to flowers and body flows. A dichotomy between the graphic plasticity of the shapes – painted, without chromatic aspirations in light blue and black – and the organic bodies over which the paint or betume roll, stain, drop, registering an gesture which creates ambiance and depth, qualifying the pictorial. The use of a more spontaneous gesture coexists with the self doubt, when put on the same level as the uniform and informal paint stroke that creates flat areas, with no changes in density or temperature; when put side by side with the application of masks that reproduce decorative patterns, or geometric patterns, such as stripes that alternate colors.

The current production of Gustavo Rizério fits in the tradition of art from Goiás, characterized by elements of expressionism. The expressionism was the most accepted model for local artists since the beginning of the development of our production, in the 50s.  The reading of his works points out to aspects developed within this tradition, such as the questioning of the human figure in a frightening environment. It also poses the problem of regional heritage placed in confrontation with the international issues that exist in the circuit of contemporary art.

With this his first individual exhibit, the artist stands before the art scene of Goiânia, with his questions, his conflicts, his heritage, this beliefs, certainties and uncertainties, professing his desire to continue developing a language that few artists from his generation still invest on.

Divino Sobral