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Júlio Villani - By a Thread

From the bestiary of Artur Pereira to the animals of Lygia Clark, from the Whale of Graciliano Ramos to the Burrito Pedrês of Guimarães Rosa, there is no shortage of prodigious animals in Brazilian art. It is now necessary to integrate Júlio Villani’s creatures into this fauna but care must be taken to preserve his uniqueness in the bosom of this imaginary family. His uniqueness or rather his fundamental hybridity occurs in many layers. They are objets trouvés in the Duchamp mode but they are also a laughing exercise of the gifts of metamorphosis that are characteristic of art. They are heirs of a certain Parisian surrealism, but they seem to refer us to the sensory memories of a boy from the country, who observes from his own perspective the objects of the house, the kitchen and the farm. Being three-dimensional, they are sculptures that do not engage those who contemplate the spectacle of the sculptor who strikes the gross gangue and extracts the form from the report; instead of chisel, the pliers, the hammer, the wire, and the discrete welding, in order to bend, fasten, tie and hang. In the latter sense, many of them are mobiles in the Calder motif – that is, they are and are not. For we continue to see the heteroclite parts that constitute them, as in a rabbit-and-hare drawing. And in this, by the way, they are very Brazilian. They are daughters of a swing and a quick-fix elevated to the condition of art endowed with that ethereal and awkward grace that the shuttlecocks have. If they arise from some simple, manual operations, they are not foolish at all. In each of them the long plastic reflection, the diving into the memory of children, and the subtle malice that amuses itself with the alteration of proportions or the deviation of functions and the original uses of the objects that serve as raw material. There is no doubt we are at the heart of the modern artistic field, but we are also at a delightful turn, in the Americas: master of the gentle sprain, Villani prolongs, smilingly, the old trickster tradition, that trickster deity, often of animal form (coyote, crow or fox) which, in so many mythologies of the New World, is pleased to deceive the other gods, to subvert their fixed destiny and to make room for life and transformation.


By Samuel Titan