Pigmento in Santos

Pigmento in Santos

Pigmento in Santos

PIGMENTO in Santos : “ Landscapes, people and things of this world”

Introductory Note: PIGMENTO was founded five years ago by artists who met every two weeks to discuss their production, contemporary art and what makes them continue to produce art in such confusing times as ours. PIGMENTO is more than a group or collective or regular meeting of artists. It consists of 12 artists with 12 ways of seeing the world through paintings, engravings, installations, drawings and sculptures. Santos does not appear explicitly in this exhibition but the city acts as a stimulus for the look and the thought of the artists and visitors alike.

Why do we still produce works of art? You may have already asked yourself this very question – or perhaps not. The fact that artists look for the answer to this question is natural but what the question keeps as a secret may never be explained  Thank goodness because it means artists will continue to produce works of art.

Landscape is one of the most common themes in painting. This same landscape may take on unusual meanings or forms, instinctive, ethereal, recognizable, atmospheric and may even arise through other languages.

In the paintings of Elisa Bueno we recognize landscape we usually associate with any coastline (as in the two paintings on paper mounted in acrylic). However, a closer look uncovers an atmosphere of uncertainty, as if we knew this place but were not sure whether it existed or not. This atmospheric presence is also present in the paintings of Adriana Pupo. However, unlike Elisa´s works in which the colors define the elements we recognize, Adriana uses faded tones, understated, blues, pinks, yellows so what looks like a stain distances us from the landscapes where the limits are about to merge and small elements attract our eye.

The landscape is not always open space, long perspectives in which tides, mountains and plants coexist or the horizon line that is ready to break up. Renata Pelegrini set out to find how man had intervened in the landscape of Santos. This “constructed landscape” annuls the mediation of the horizon line, inverts perspectives, transforms cranes into trees and warehouses into hills. It is hardly surprising that the ensuing colors and forms, in the drawings or paintings, are endowed with an almost tangible dynamism. What we have here is time speeded up.

Mariana Mattos shares some of Renata´s features in her works but a counterpoint arises in her case. The reference is not the constructed space which ceases to exist but nature which is about to dominate any place. It is not by chance that some of her works are called “pests”.

And how do we deal with the stereotype of the landscape? When we talk about Santos (or any of the coastal towns) the sea, the mountains, the sun, the sky and the moon spring to our imagination. In Fabio Hanna´s engravings, the landscape ceases to be a stereotype through the explicitness of the production, of how to make it. A mesh of segments of crosshatched lines will expand, thickens to the limit of what we are able to recognize. At this point, we look up and see a bit of silvery sky covering us almost as if the crosshatchings had leapt from the paper into space.

Another recurring theme that has traditionally occurred in works of art is the human figure. Nudes, bodies wearing clothes, portraits, self-portraits, groups, people on their own doing things. A never-ending list. But what if artists were to use the absence of people to speak about the human presence?

Three artists dealt with this theme, each in their own way. Lilian Camelli uses her paintings to recall her origins, in Paraguay, through internal spaces. Rooms, corridors, meeting places, spaces without any human presence which, for this very reason, can evoke with greater strength the memory of what we experience now where we are no longer present. It is as if someone has just left a place and everything has stopped, leaving the area in suspension in an undefinable time.

Vera Toledo´s works are of another kind. They show the “present” time and lose the thickness to become closer to what we normally call “reality”. They are also the only ones that show the human figure although it should be pointed out that these figures are elements of color, such as beach chairs, parasols, anything.

Helena Carvalhosa presents a series consisting of paintings that have chairs in common. These paintings establish a bridge between the works of Lilian and Vera as they combine the lack of human presence with the transformation of an object into a “figure” or theme. Through a thematic simplification, she brings us closer to primordial questions of painting (color, form, theme) so we can think about them not as a comparison but as possibilities and expansion of our understanding.

Helena expands those questions on painting mentioned above in this field of possibilities.

The artist´s need to express himself or herself, to speak up, does not require explanations. It exists and can assume various languages and ways of coming about. Cyra de Araújo Moreira uses angular forms and strong colors in her paintings. These geometric constructions correspond to nothing in what we could call the figurative world. They seem to belong more to the undefined world, the world of things. Perhaps for this reason her sculptures use a variety of materials, with natural or painted colors, and different textures.

This diversity “of things” is also present in the works of Cecília and Roberto. Cecília Pastore used something that we are surrounded with as a theme: packaging. This humdrum subject can lead to discussions in the political sphere (on consumerism) as well as art (by creating a dialogue with the works of Giorgio Morandi), particularly painting (in relation to the theme that allow the construction of plans and interactions with the colors). Roberto Fabra starts from a questioning of the status of painting itself. His series “Role of the Eye during observation” has no relation whatsoever with recognizable objects, landscapes, figures. Furthermore, the materials he uses means there is no control over the final result. It is difficult to speak about the artist´s “expression” as what we see in the canvases can assume any meaning we want. They can mean “anything”. What we have is more of an expression of a thought than an action.

When I say the city of Santos was present in the thinking of the PIGMENTO artists, although it appears in an indirect way in most of the works, I think the best example of this is in the work of Marina de Falco. She created 13 paintings of the same size where the theme is altered by additions, such as a musical score which, starting from a dominant note receives other notes altering rhythms and movements. This is what happens in the work Quase Dança (Almost Dance) and its derivations, that have strong links with the most fertile periods of Brazilian art, i.e. concretism and the neo-concretism, particularly Hélio Oiticica´s production. However it is worth mentioning that Quase Dança acquired its format after one of our meetings at which we saw and heard some works from one of the city´s greatest sons, Gilberto Mendes. (The other one is Pelé, of course.)

Everything is impermanence. People come and go, they die and they are born. Even the landscapes change quickly as a result of man´s action. It is the time in which we live, no worse or better, perhaps only different. And art tries to maintain not only a quieter temporal relationship, a human rhythm and not one dictated by machines, but also retain the ability to remain beyond our existence. In the midst of the things surrounding us in this world it is comforting to know that some people can still speak about what it is like to be human.

Marcelo Salles