Exhibitions

Lorenzato, the grandeur of modesty | from 11/03/2014 to 11/05/2014

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Introduction

Amedeo Lorenzato

I heard about Lorenzato’s paintings some years ago. Rodrigo Naves and Roberto Rugiero, in São Paulo, stimulated my curiosity. I started to research and then his work started to unfold and also enchant me. I understood why everyone who knew him admired his work. Hailing from Minas Gerais and appreciated by Amílcar de Castro, Lorenzato had been kept within local knowledge. Indeed, art is still largely regional!

Going to Belo Horizonte, I contacted some collectors in order to better know Lorenzato’s vast pictorial universe. Since then, I had an ever-growing desire to present an exhibition of his works in São Paulo. To many art collectors, I proposed a partnership for this exhibition, but they remained hermetically sealed. I then realised the jealousy that, as a collector myself, I perfectly understand. I proposed a purchase of the works, but they didn’t want to sell either... However, I fixed in my mind that I would, indeed, have an exhibition and started to seek out what was available on the market, in order to form a mass that could allow me to portray at least part of the pictorial universe of this artist.

I bought some works at auction, from private collections, and did what I could to activate the market in Belo Horizonte, believing in this proposal and seeking the exhibition, until finally it became reality. One day, already having several works in my collection, I showed it to Laymert Garcia. He did not know the artist, but soon became enthusiastic. I invited him to be the curator and the project, to my happiness, started to move forward. From that moment forth we have never got tired of looking, analysing and appreciating, and the more we look at the work the more we like it.

This exhibition does not plan to be definite. It is just the start of the contact between the people of São Paulo and yet another great artist, among so many others whose works need to be unveiled to enter the circuit of what is called the art market.

I declare that I am happy!

 

Vilma Eid

 

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Curator

Lorenzato, the grandeur of modesty


“We only paint what we see, or what we could see.”


“(...)a picture does not represent anything, and in the beginning should only represent colours.”


                                                                                                          Paul Cézanne to Joachim Gasquet


 


Amedeo Luciano Lorenzato is a unique artist within the setting of Brazilian plastic art.  Virtually unknown outside his home state of Minas Gerais, the region where he was born and where he created his vast collection of works, he is however, one of the best 20th Century Brazilian painters, and his importance should and needs to be recognised and appraised.


Lorenzato is pure painting – this is how he is quite fairly defined by Maria Angélica Melendi, in the book that was dedicated to him and published in 2011.[1] However, in this case, what does the concept of pure painting represent? Why say that the exercising of the art of painting is the main substrate of creation, present in his paintings? One is tempted to answer these questions by saying that Lorenzato is pure painting because pure painting is what he wants, and what he achieves.


The artist used to say that he painted what he saw: “I leave home, pick up a piece of paper and draw on it, then I note down the colours more or less and then, when I have the scale models, I paint. I have to see the landscape and the things thereon. If I do not see it, then I am unable to paint” (Statement on Atelier Circuit, pages 30 and 31). It’s as simple as that. However, phrases without any intentions paradoxically reveal and, at the same time, hide a complex operation. Indeed, if we purge the process of producing work over five decades, as much as possible, and if we seek coherence, then we discover that what really gets Lorenzato involved is the power of an event which is reinforced every day, which attracts him in an uncounterable way. in which he gets involved and to which he dedicates himself fully: the advent of pure painting through his unconditional dedication to the act of painting.


The advent of pure painting is much more than the practice of an activity or the expression of an artist’s wills, intentions and thoughts. It is necessary for several conditions to be met so that pure painting may indeed unfold. First and foremost, there is a requirement that vision can yield to pure sight, fully and totally, to the extent that any kind of interference is prevented from clouding or jeopardising it. All concern, any commitment of any other kind, does indeed bar the access to the event, contaminates it, or even interrupts and destroys it. The concept of pure sight requires exclusiveness. This is what Cézanne used to call “the study of the motive”, that he would practice on a daily basis during his wanderings, in his direct contact with nature, and a concept that Lorenzato shall take up once again. There is a need to get impregnated with the world, incorporating oneself into it and also incorporating it; there is also a need to dissolve oneself in the field of vision, while the object hereof ceases to be an object, taking on the aspect of a constituent relationship. However, no matter how necessary the experience of pure sight may be, it cannot, by itself, allow the development of pure painting. For this, it is necessary that the artist, apart from his or her inherent talent, also has mastery of his or her trade, from both an intellectual and a practical standpoint, in order to recreate the experience, which means the act of prolonging and bringing the existence for, and in the eyes of, the person contemplating the painting. Pure painting is, the act of pure sight in painting. What happens very occasionally, due to a combination of factors that include both the quality of the perception as also the talent and quality of understanding and the concept of what painting actually amounts to.


Cinema director Robert Bresson accurately defined the operation that is at stake in this dual dimension of production of a pure picture, on writing that having judgement is the act of having


[1] Melendi, Maria Angélica. Lorenzato. Belo Horizonte: Editora C/Arte, 2011, pages 9 et seq.


accurate perception.[2] Well, this is what happens in Lorenzato’s work: judgement of the act of sight, and judgement of the act of painting.


For decades, he was considered a regional artist, a naïf or a “primitive artist”, even though he never saw himself as such and preferred to self-classify himself as “current”. Maybe his work has been seen in these registers because Lorenzato was a self-learner and, as such, was not included in any ism, also being non-existent for the Brazilian art market and not invoking any school or tradition. The path he has trailed makes it evident that he was an authentic outsider, painting whatever he felt like painting, as he himself wrote on the back of one of his paintings. Crowning his marginality as an artist, one fact that counted was the fact that Lorenzato was poor and carried out many trades that can hardly be considered as prestigious, especially that of a wall painter. However, the man and his work are not satisfied with clichés, as his grandeur rests in the modesty of his life and also the commitment of his art.


In the country of University graduates and a strong slavocratic heritage, it is important to have a University degree and not indulge in manual labour. Lorenzato did not have any degree to his name, and was an artisan. However, this did not mean that this simple man could not be complex as an individual and also as an artist. He did not consider himself as part of the polarisation between the erudite and the popular, or in the formulation devised by Bené Fonteles to characterise an enormous segment of Brazilian artistic and cultural production: “neither erudite nor popular”. Indeed, because Lorenzato is in fact erudite and popular, fusing these two spheres of painting in a unique way, with a rare power of synthesis, as Rodrigo Moura well identified.[3]


How can one consider as naïve or primitive a man who could speak five languages, having been born in Belo Horizonte and lived in Florence, Rome, Brussels, Paris and Hamburg, having travelled across much of Europe visiting museums and churches, also having been subjected to forced labour by the Germans during the Second World War? How can one ignore the learning acquired at the Royal Academy of Art at Vicenza in 1925 and, three years later, his “study trip” across Europe, with Dutch painter Cornelius Keesman? How can we see in him a man of little knowledge, if we know that, on a daily basis, he would dedicate his afternoons to reading and that he studied books on the history7 of art, including Giorgio Vasari’s work Vite de più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori italiani [Lives of the  Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects]? How can we ignore that he had close contact with European painters, both classic and modern; and that he knew the Brazilian modernists and that he exchanged works with the Minas Gerais artists of his time? How can we not take into account that he had excellent understanding of painting, including everything from cave paintings through to graffiti, which he saw as the art of the “muralist future”? How can one not add value to a touching self-portrait in which Lorenzato saw himself as a man from the Palaeolithic period painting animals in caves, and another in which he appears from inside a Florentine medallion from the Capella Brancacci? How can we forget that, in the 1930s, he participated in the process to restore the al fresco paintings by Raphael Sanzio at the Villa Farnesina, in Roma, and also in the papal residence at Castelgandolfo?


Lorenzato is not a primitivist or a primitive painter, as Maria Amélia Fialho[4] well observed. This, in the good and also in the bad sense: his painting does not emanate from the magical world or thought, and at the same time is not simplistic, poorly informed or “intuitive”. One of his comments illustrates to perfection this mixture of grandeur and modesty which we find in the man and also in the painter, when, in an interview with Cláudia Giannetti and Thomas Nölle, he says:


[2] In Bresson, Robert. Robert Bresson, Notes sur le cinématographe, [Notes on Cinema Science] NRF, Paris: Gallimard, 1975, page 81.


[3] Moura, Rodrigo. “Atualidade de Lorenzato” [Lorenzato’s Currency]. Quoted by José Aloise Bahia in “Lorenzato: Modern Artist”, .


[4] Fialho, Maria Amélia. “Amadeu Luciano Lorenzato”. Mentioned by Melo, Janaína Alves. “Cronologia”. In Lorenzato. Circuito Atelier, op. cit., page 46.


— I like Masaccio more than Rafael.


— Masaccio?


— Yes, Raphael is too polished up.[5]


 


This comment is quite amusing, as it mixes the erudite references of a connoisseur with the term that is, at the same time, colloquial and technical. To consider Raphael (who in the European canon was considered the master of all painters) as “too polished up” shows  surprising relaxedness and freedom of aesthetic judgement; but it must also be remembered that this expression is normally used for work that has had too much embellishment and too many touches. Well, this judgement is justified within a certain pictorial perspective, and is coherent with the understanding that Lorenzato has of the painters that he has consideration for (Cimabue, Masaccio, and others of the First Renaissance, as well as Leonardo and Michelangelo) and the style of painting that he himself follows. In addition, such a thought is not an idiosyncrasy. Indeed, already in 1667 we find a reference to Raphael’s taste for precision of painting “with so much care being taken to preserve it entirely that some people even believe that he tends to the side of dryness, but in truth we can say that he has taken up a midway line, between the excessively soft and the excessively muscular, the first being the practice of the School of Lombardy, and the latter that of the School of Florence”.[6]


Thus in Lorenzato’s view, Raphael is “too polished up” and, according to Mignard, there are those who believe that the emphasis on drawing would be responsible for making his paintings dry. However, the proximity between the two aesthetic judgements is interesting as it shows the difference between the pictorial options of painters from Lombardy and Florence. Well, it was with the Florentines that Lorenzato learnt how to paint, by attending churches, studying the al fresco paintings. If Masaccio is indeed his favourite, this is because the contribution of this painter seems fundamental.


Here, it is essential to remember that it is the discovery of al fresco painting that makes it possible for Lorenzato to effectively pass from his trade as an artisan to his work as an artist. In fact, for him, and in compliance with the history of art, al fresco painting is “the forerunner of plastic art”.[7] It is not difficult to understand the reason why the al fresco style is a passage operator:  as a specialist in ornamental painting, Lorenzato has in-depth knowledge of the techniques that allow the imitation of marble and wood, and also the preparation of walls and the composition of the paints themselves, the execution of plasterboards etc.; therefore being able to admire the al frescos of the Quattrocento period, the materials used and also the process of production – methods, solutions, variations and differences from one painting to another.[8]


With Masaccio, Lorenzato learns that the starting point of the painter is an observation of nature in terms of structure and perspective – in other words, concrete reality. Inaugurating this point of


[5] Interview granted to Claudia Gianetti and Thomas Nölle, July 1988. (transcription) In Melendi, M. A., op. cit., page 23.


[6] Mignard. Quatrième conférence tenue dans le Cabinet des Tableaux du Roy” [Fourth Conference held in the Cabinet des Tableaux du Roy], 3 September 1667. In Félibien, André. Conférences de l’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture. [Conferences of the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture] Paris: Frédéric Léonard, 1669, page 46,.


[7] Unpublished interview given to Germana Monte-Mór, Solange Pessoa and Ricardo Homen in 1992.


[8] I would like to thank restorer André P. Kosierkiewicz for the precious technical information about the production of Lorenzatos paintings, as also for recommendation of the books by André Félibien and the Cennini, Cennino. Il libro dell’arte.  [The Book of Art] MS., circa 1390. For this text, we used the French translation: Traité de peinture [A Treatise on Painting] Paris: Jules Renouart, 1858,.


view, Lionello Venturi comments that Masaccio was considered the first artist whose figures literally had their feet on the ground.[9] In addition, the critic observes that this option goes against the prevailing trend in mediaeval art, in which the custom was to start out from an abstract model, supplied based on tradition, and that, in order to become a work of art, should be transformed into a concrete representation inspired by the mystic emotions experienced by the artist. The critic adds that: “The scientific analysis of optical experience that started in Florence in the first half of the 15th Century has influenced the very appearance of paintings for many centuries – to be precise, through to about 1900, when we see signs of a revival of abstract art. […] There was a feeling of the need to reinstate the abstract as a method of inspiration – whether abstract forms and geometrical space, or the unknown, the invisible, the supra-real. Could this be the revival of an olden quest for God, or possible the Irrational knocking on the doors of our hearts?”[10]


The issue raised by Venturi is worth stressing because it is the loyalty to the starting point inaugurated by Masaccio that shall mould Lorenzato’s art, also in his anachronism as a 20th Century painter. It suffices to see how the appearance unfolds for still-lifes, house scenes and sunsets on his works, to be sure that the observation of nature is one factor that governs the structure and the perspective of his paintings, which is confirmed by the way in which he resorts to the use of scale models, which he prepares during his wanderings and serve as guidance for his works, also with respect to colours that are written in code. However, this is not everything, With Masaccio, Lorenzato learns that the observation of nature to structure and give perspective to his paintings does not mean the act of copying, but rather construction of space by means of volumes and also layout in depth. Another teaching of the Florentine painter: the colours of the painting must not just be transposed from nature, but must also conquer natural lighting. Finally, there is the adoption of a trend towards geometric simplification of shapes which, in Lorenzato, culminates in landscape minimalism of sorts, so significant is the reduction of figuration.


However, there is not only Masaccio. We also find traits of other forerunners of the Renaissance in Lorenzato’s painting style. Lionello Venturi stresses that Cimabue, mainly prioritising closer contact with reality, realised that contrasts of light and shadow produce graphic effects of the first order. Hence, this painter does not use light-dark hues to create an illusion of a solid figure, preferring the game of light and shadow.[11] We can see the same procedure, for example in Lorenzato’s woods and mainly in the way his houses get distributed in physical space and how the walls and roofs are exposed to sunlight, or not. On the other hand, the Italo-Brazilian artist seems to get inspiration from Duccio, the disciple of Cimabue, on organising the space of his landscapes with sunsets and also the mountains of Minas Gerais. A comparison between these and Via per Emmaus, for example, shows that in both cases space is not considered a material fact, but rather suggested by successive and independent optical illusions, which means realising that space is constructed through breaks in continuity.  In addition, one cannot deny the role of the diagonal in the composition of space in so  many of Lorenzato’s works, as it seems to follow the same principles which govern the whole interpretation of the scenes of Storie della Passione and Ressurrezzione, both by Duccio, and also the Pietà by Giotto, in the Capella degli Scrovegni. About this point, L. Venturi writes: “This in-depth composition owes nothing to perspective but is first organised by the diagonal”.[12] The assimilation of this pictorial solutions by Lorenzato is so intense that one is tempted to assign to him the very words of Venturo when he writes about Giotto’s al fresco paintings: “ […] paintings and objects depicted are laid out in different planes; thus, they impart a feeling of mass as exists in space, and even if this means loss of plastic power, they move more freely and fall into their respective locations with greater harmony”.[13]Finally the issue of a


[9] Venturi, Lionello. Italian painting – The creators of the Renaissance. Vol. I. Geneva-Paris: Editions Albert Skira, 1950, page 113.


[10] Idem, page 11.


[11] Ibidem, pages 17 and 57.


[12] Ibid., page 59.


[13] Ibid., page 63.


specific concept for use of colours. In this case, the procedure used evokes the manner of Piero della Francisca, who uses them as chromatic zones, one colour representing light and another colour representing shade. “This is a brand new concept – writes Venturi – and is the basic principle of the chromatic form in painting. With Piero, light meanders and creates shapes [...]. Any light vibrates, and natural light is only completely expressed in the painting when there is free transit given to its vibrations, the molecule dance.”[14]


Thus, the presence of contributions by Italian Renaissance painters, far from demeaning Lorenzato’s work, only adds value to it. Not only because it is evident that his painting is the result of careful observation and thought, but also, and more importantly, because the assimilation of the Renaissance lesson is not in the records of simple imitation, but in those of selective choices, or better, elective affinities whose interconnection shall be organised by the request for expression that is forced upon the artist. In a way, except Masaccio’s starting point, which Lorenzato clearly supports, all other “influences” can be regarded as pictorial resources that he uses with great freedom of decision. On the other hand, a more detailed examination of some works shows that the combination of such resources varies and also surprises, to the extent that one same work can, for example, articulate the Greek perspective and the aerial perspective, without the whole complex being jeopardised by such an unusual combination. The same is the case with materials used, which are of all kinds, from the arsenal of the painter and the artisan – apart from producing the screens, al frescos and paints, Lorenzato can use putty or even mix oil and wax, like Leonardo in the Last Supper!


In any case, it is worth registering: it could be this classic Italian heritage which awakens, in some cases, a paradoxical feeling in the spectator, that of feeling, in a Belo Horizonte slum or the mountains of Minas Gerais, an undefinable impression of burghs and citadels, a highly subtle reference to the hills of Tuscany, as if fragments from the backs of the Renaissance al fresco works could have detached themselves from the mythical and religious figures and flowered within Brazilian scenery, characterising the work as one of our own paintings. Indeed, we see no traces of the Europeising idealisation of the Minas Gerais landscape, whether natural or social – the painting of Lorenzato is not in any way nostalgic of another moment in space or time, physical or metaphysical. The fact is that the pure view of the present opens in a view of concrete reality being modulated by the whole the pictorial equipment already seen and assimilated, which had been constructed for the understanding of a different world, but is now able to transform the view of what is ours, into pure painting.


The most interesting aspect is that the Renaissance references in Lorenzato’s paintings do not make him an academic artist, as one could naively believe. This, because her appropriation of modern painting is also extremely relevant. His closeness to Cézanne. the forerunner of modern painting, has already been mentioned, this being through fidelity towards the “study of motive”. It will also be valid to remember the love that both devoted to the most important masters, that are investigated with a lot of attention – in the case of Cézanne, more by the Venetians than by the Florentines. In addition, both give great importance to the preparation of the canvas: Lorenzato often in copper with a blue or white background; Cézanne regrets that the modern artists “no longer know how to prepare the secret soul of what is underneath, like the grisaille in Veronese. Finally, it is worth mentioning a certain family relationship between Lorenzato and the French artist, in relation to the colour issue. This is because even though they have diverse style of painting, they both prioritise colour rather than the drawing; both of them only paint in the morning (the most beautiful time, when the objects seem more graceful – says Bourdon),[15]) and also both model by colour – there is no shady area, and the colour itself makes the contours.


Let’s look at the implications of this parti pris favouring colour, through the comments by painters R.F. Rivière and J.F. Schnerb, who visited Cézanne in his studio, one year before he died. “’I am


[14] Ibid., page 128.


[15] Bourdon. Septième Conférence tenue dans l’Académie Royale. [Seventh Conference held at the Royal Academy]. In Félibien, A., op. cit., page 112.


not a valuist’, said Cézanne, and he really modelled more based on colour than on value. In his view, the opposition of light and shade were, first and foremost, opposition of different hues that observation and reasoning allow the painter to reproduce. The parts directly reached by light and those that are only illuminated by reflected light get coloured in a different way, but according to a uniform format of law, whatever the local tone may be. It is through the opposition of warm and cold colours that the colours available to the painter, without any absolute light quality present therein, can represent light and shade. The lightest colour on the palette, which is white, for example, becomes the colour of the shade if the painter can oppose to it an even more luminous hue. ‘We do not make light, we just reproduce it. We only reproduce its colouring effects’.”[16]


Well, this option results in a style of painting that has its core central point in its “coloured sensation”, a lot more than in format. In addition, this concept of chromatism transforms the modelling operation into a modulation. “The concept of ‘colourism’ – writes Gilles Deleuze – is a set of colours that interrelate with each other (as in any kind of painting worthy of the name) but not alone.; it is colour discovered as a variable relation, the differential relation on which the rest depends. The formula of colourists is: if you take the colour over to your pure internal relations (hot-cold, expansion-contraction), then you shall have everything. If the colour is perfect, this meaning the colour relationships developed by themselves, you shall have everything: shape and background, light and shade, light and dark hues.”[17]


The treatment given to colours by Lorenzato means that he is, indeed, an authentic colourist, and it is not by chance that he makes his own paints, using pigments of colours such as black, green, yellow, blue or white (cement or bicarbonate), Xadrez colourings and linseed oil (and also use of egg yolks, a very old technique as Cennino Cennini teaches). It has already been observed that he is a painter with only a few colours, giving priority to the different shades of blue, ochre and green, the colours of earth and sky, the colour of the landscape. It is undeniable that the paintings arouse in the spectator, first and foremost, a “coloured sensation”, created by the basic colours, which conduct the concert of all other fundamental components of painting – lighting, composition, proportion, expression and also the harmony of the complex as a whole. This is the “coloured feeling” that opens up Lorenzato’s world to us.


Gallery owner Manoel Macedo, one of the most important collectors of the artist’s works and who has been familiar with them for over thirty years, calls attention to the “silence” that is present in these pictures. Indeed, they do not have any narrative at all, only a kind of “passional serenity” that is declared in pure contemplation. As if language suddenly fell silent, becoming unnecessary, as the “coloured feeling” makes one see, affects the spectator and gets consumed in the look, leading the person to want to see even more.


Last but not least, there is resonance with Van Gogh. It is obvious that Lorenzato knows the Impressionists: Picasso, Matisse, Carrà and many others. However, no modern painter is quite as close as the Dutchman, and this is not only because he honours him by painting sunflowers. The fact is that Lorenzato uses the steel comb in the same way that Van Gogh uses the paint brush… and the colour, thick and in furrows, then vibrates.


The discovery of the use of the comb occurred by chance; however, it seems to be a result that crowns the permanent passage from artisan to painter, as it is in this way that he acquires his very own form of expression. At one time, Lorenzato had his own collection of combs, that he had bought in Paris in his youth: “I was a painter, specialised in decoration using marble estambres, fake marble and wood; if I painted the background in oil and then the yellow veins, red, black, and the finishing touches with the comb [...] Then I returned to Belo Horizonte and did not use it any more. One day I had the idea, I lined a piece of cardboard and then, with the comb, I started to reorganise and do things. This was some ten years ago. And so I then started […] First I paint, then


[16] Rivière, R.P. & Schnerb, J.F. L’atelier de Cézanne [Cézanne’s Studio]. Envois. Paris: L’Echoppe, 1991, s/n.


[17] Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon – Logique de la sensation [Francis Bacon: Logic of feelings], La Vue le Texte. Paris: Editions de la Différence,1981, page 89.


I spread the paints of several different colours, and then I mix things with the comb. I use the brush to spread the paint and the comb to mix the colours.”[18] “This is a characteristic of my own. I am the only painter in the world who paints like this”.[19]


Sculptor Amílcar de Castro, who encouraged the artist’s work, used to say in a loving tone that he not only painted very well, but also Lorenzato combed the painting. The fact is that the handling of the comb  gives additional movement and vibration to the whole and also its constituent parts, as also the background and the figures. One must therefore pay attention to the exquisite variety of skies inhabiting the screens. There the air circulates, sometimes ejecting them afar, to the rear, creating distance, or interposing themselves nestled within the mountain ranges, or even filling the spaces between these and the trees that take up the foreground, with different vibrations here, there and everywhere. This all occurs because the movement of the comb is neither repetitive or uniform, but rather is undergoing continuous variation, as Lorenzato passes from sky to mountains, then from these to the trees, houses, people, paths and flowers. Painting with the comb in incisive or delicate mood, in continuous or interrupted movement, circular or straight, the artist brings about a kind of élan that is vital to cover the whole surface of the paintings, oxygenating them.


Lorenzati used the comb in the same way that Van Gogh used the brush. However, what brought them together also separates them, as the comb is a vector of breathing, while the brush is an operator of innervation; thus, the pictorial gesture that transports the passionate sincerity of the first contrasts with the firmness and the precision of the second. From the comb that is applied with firmness and precision, there doth emerge, in Lorenzato, the amorous contemplation of a pacified type of nature, which is near and distant at the same time; from the pathetic strokes of the nerved brush, of Van Gogh, there buds the tormented vision of a “pure and bare viewed nature, as is revealed when we know how to get really close to it”, in the understanding of Antonin Artaud.[20]


To conclude, it is worth emphasising the parallelism between Volpi and Lorenzato, with so many being the common points in terms of existential and artistic paths trailed. Both are of mixed Italian and Brazilian heritage: the former, born in Italy and raised in São Paulo; the second hailing from Belo Horizonte and having lived many years in Italy. Both are sons of immigrants who became working-class artists, carrying out several trades and, most importantly, decorative painting. Both are self-learners, having matured as painters when they were already in middle age or beyond, having their first exhibitions shown when aged over fifty. Both prepared the canvas and the chassis, and also produced their own paints. Both were also strongly influenced by the paintings of the First Renaissance – think of Volpi having paid eighteen visits to Giotto’s al frescos at Padova or, also, in the way he organises space. Both were modern artists but considered primitive – just remember the judgement of Volpi made by Frank Stella; in short, they are erudite and popular at the same time. Finally, both are colourist. As Volpi said: “You put the first colour. Then you look and put the second colour. Look again. If things are right, you realise it. If things are wrong, you also realise it, so you rub things out and start again.”[21]


This could have all led to a kind of convergence of the paths trailed by the two painters, but this is not the case. In his reading of Volpi’s works, Rodrigo Naves has signalled the presence of an ambiguous modernity marked by a certain archaism present in more than one aspect, also in resonance with the preparation of al frescos. The critic understands that this problematic complexity of formal construction would prevent the resolute affirmation of the modern, making his art emblematic of the “difficult forms” that emerge both in the construction of the pictures as also in a highly peculiar chromatism, shown by the slight variations in hues in the tempera, through the


[18] Lorenzato. Statement, In: Lorenzato. Circuito Atelier, op. cit., pages 31 and 32.


[19] Unpublished Interview with Germana Monte-Mór and Solange Pessoa.


[20] Artaud, Antonin. Van Gogh – Le suicidé de la société.  [Van Gogh: The Suicide of Society]. Coll. L’Imaginaire. Paris: Gallimard, 2001, page 66.


[21] Hannud, Giancarlo. “Alfredo Volpi”, in Arte moderna no Brasil – Uma história do modernismo na Pinacoteca de São Paulo [Modern Art in Brazil: A historical look at Modernism in the São Paulo Pinachothèque] São Paulo: Pinacoteca do Estado, 2013, pages 104 to 110.


hesitant characteristics of colours, through the faded appearance of the pictures, together with the worn forms and tired memory. In this regard, even if Volpi was indeed “the first major modern Brazilian plastic artist to obtain public recognition[22], his work lacks the main modern requirement, which is a request for independence of art and the work of the artist. Therefore, Volpi would express our possible modernity, even though his work is considered by many as the opening of the path to abstraction.


Here we shall not ask if Lorenzato is fully modern or not, but rather stress that his commitment with art leads him past periods and the opposition between the classic and the modern, to enter the lineage of the forerunners who invented and reinvented painting: the Palaeolithic human who paints caves; Masaccio, the forerunner of the Renaissance; Cézanne, the forerunner of modern art… waiting for the muralist of the future. Why so much interest in forerunners? I feel that it is because, in his opinion, pure painting is, was and always shall be the gestation and the advent of the painting of what is seen and also what could be seen. In a certain way, loyalty to forerunners shows a commitment to the paradoxical dimension of art, temporal or non-temporal, historical or trans-historical. The forerunner is the party that takes into account the past, the present and also the future of painting.


This is not always understood. This is the second individual exhibition by Lorenzato in São Paulo. The first, in 1981, was organised by Roberto Rugiero at the Galeria Brasiliana.[23] At the time, despite the high quality of the exhibition, the gallery owner sold three paintings. What happened? Probably something like the phenomenon to which Proust is referring when he writes:


 


“The reason why an excellent work rarely gains immediate admiration is the fact that the author is extraordinary and few people are like him or her. It has to be the person’s own work that, fertilising the few spirits that can understand it, shall make them grow and multiply. It were the quartets of Beethoven [...] that took fifty years to give life and figures to the public of the quartets of Beethoven, thus carrying out, like all the major works, some progress, if not in the value as regarded by the artists, at least in the society of the spirits, today widely constituted by what was impossible to find when the masterpiece first appeared, which is creatures that are able to love it. This, what is called posterity, is in fact the posterity of the work. It is necessary for the work [...] creates its own posterity. If the work was preserved with reserve and only posterity would know about it, this would not be true posterity for the work at hand, but an assembly of contemporaries that just happened to live fifty years later. It is essential, though, that the artist [...] if he or she wants his or her work to follow his or her path, along a route which is very deep, in a full and remote future.[24]                                                                                                                                                                                   


[22] Naves, Rodrigo. A forma difícil – Ensaios sobre arte brasileira [The Difficult Form: Essays on Brazilian art] São Paulo: Editora Ática, 2.ed., 1997, page 194.


[23] Lorenzato – 25 óleos. [Twenty-five oil paintings]. Folder of an exhibition at the Galeria Brasiliana, from 28 September to 16 October 1981


[24] Proust, Marcel. À sombra das raparigas em flor [In the shadow of young girls in flower] Porto Alegre: Ed. Globo, 2nd edition, 2nd printing, 1960, page 82. Translated by Mário Quintana.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Laymert Garcia dos Santos

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Release

Lorenzato, the grandeur of modesty


 


AT THE ESTAÇÃO ART GALLERY


Opening: 11 March, at 7 p.m. – Runs until 11 May 2014


In 2014, when the Estação Art Gallery reaches its tenth anniversary, it insists on a continuous search for showing how the production with Brazilian roots is inserted in contemporary narrative. The São Paulo artistic space kicks off its commemorations with an unprecedented exhibition of paintings of the Minas Gerais artist Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato (Belo Horizonte, 1900 – Belo Horizonte, 1995). Under the curatorship of professor Laymert Garcia dos Santos, this exhibition brings 36 works that were obtained at auctions and also from private collections by gallery specialist Vilma Eid. During the opening ceremony, there shall also be the launch of the book “Lorenzato”, by Maria Angélica Melendi (191 pages, R$45.00).


Still largely unknown to the São Paulo public, Lorenzato’s paintings are the result of a special technique, hard to define but with spectacular results. For the curator, during decades, he was considered a regional artist, a naïf artist or a primitive artist perhaps, even though he never saw himself as such and preferred to self-qualify himself as a current artist. “Maybe his work could have been seen in these registers because Lorenzato was a self-learner, not included in any isms, not existing  for the Brazilian art market, and did not request any school or tradition”, said Laymert. The fact that he was poor and had carried out several menial jobs, especially that of wall painter, served to strengthen his marginality. “However, the man and his work were not restricted to clichés, as in the modesty of his life, and the commitment of his art, true greatness resides”, the curator stresses.


His exquisite works depicted issues and allegories ranging from portraits to landscapes – the sky, rural areas, cities and trees -, showing extreme skill in the combination of colours and also a synthesis in the articulation of the elements using the paint brush. According to the professor, another trade mark shown by Lorenzato lies in the finishing of his paintings, with the use of a comb on the canvas, never in a repetitive or uniform manner, always adding movement and texture to the works. Sculptor Amílcar de Castro, who loved the artist’s work, used to say that, apart from painting well, Lorenzato combed the painting. The act of working with the comb “causes movement and vibration to the whole, and also to its constituent parts, as also to background and figures”. The result is a variety of skies inhabiting the screens. “In these skies, the air circulates, taking them to afar, to the rear, creating distance, or interposing themselves between the different mountain planes”, Laymert completes.


About the artist:


Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato (Belo Horizonte, 1900 – Belo Horizonte, 1995) was a wall painter, a stonemason and a plastic artist. A son of Italian immigrants, he was educated in the capital of Minas Gerais and became a wall painter. With the epidemic of Spanish influenza, which hit the capital in the 1920s, Lorenzato’s family returned to Italy, where the young man went to the first specialised school, which is the Royal Academy of Art, in Vicenza. It was during this period that the young artist got to know, and was bowled over by, the works of the masters of the First Renaissance.


 


In Rome, he met the Dutch caricature artist Cornelius Keesman, with whom he travelled around Europe, going through Belgium and France, where he expanded his interest and his overall knowledge about art. In 1948, he returned to Brazil with his wife and son, and settled in Petrópolis, where he worked as a painter. As from 1950, Lorenzato started living and working in Belo Horizonte, in the construction trade. He carried out this trade until 1956m, when he broke a leg in a work accident. After that, he turned to artistic painting, a trade which he exercised through to his death in 1995. He has had several individual and group exhibitions in museums and art galleries in Belo Horizonte and also has works in the collections of the Clóvis Salgado Foundation and the Pampulha Museum of Art.


 


Service:


Lorenzato, the grandeur of modesty


Curator: Laymert Garcia dos Santos


Opening: 11 March, at 7 p.m. (guests)


Exhibition runs from 11 March to 11 May 2014, from Monday to Friday, from 11 a.m.  to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., admittance free.


Estação Art Gallery


Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 625 – Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil


Telephone: ++ 55 11 3813-7253


PRESS INFORMATION


Communication Pool – Marcy Junqueira


Service: Martim Pelisson


Telephone: ++ 55 11 3032-1599


marcy@pooldecomunicacao.com.br / martim@pooldecomunicacao.com.br


 





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