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18/07/2013 | Geometry and Animism, by Aurelino Dos Santos | Arte!Brasileiros, July/August 2013, Issue No. 20

Geometry and Animism, by Aurelino Dos Santos | Arte!Brasileiros, July/August 2013, Issue No. 20

By REYNALDO DAMAZIO

The EXPRESSIVE SET of 21 paintings by the Bahian plastic artist Aurelino dos Santos, on show at the Estação Art Gallery until 31 August, allows a panoramic overview of metropolitan culture which is at the root of his research with geometric planes and strong colours.
Under the curatorship of art critic and professor Lorenzo Mammì, this exhibition reflects the singularity of Aurelino in relation to the handling of triangles, circles and rectangles, in a mixture with the presence of colours such as purple, orange, green, lemon green and pink. The painter avoids the concept of depth, rather working with planes, in a perspective which is closer to the sensitivity of an urban spectator, surrounded by a deformed and chaotic mass of volumes, superimposed combinations of colours, that makes the look more uniform.
According to the curator himself: “In this planarity, Aurelino has somehow recognised the expression of the deep conflict that threatens personally from close by, while at the same time a way, albeit a precarious one, of stopping this threat, which saved the artist from falling back on the decorative, like many artists have done before, including some with a greater cultural background.”
Painter Aurelino dos Santos participated in the art scene in his home town of Salvador as from 1960, when he had the opportunity to meet Mário Cravo and Lina Bo Bardi, but his temperament meant that he could not adapt easily to circles of renowned artists, and hence decided to trail his own path.
Also according to Mammì, “His production has a mixture of references which include Baroque, Concretism and even the Neoconcretist movement, making use of a series of artistic resources such as spot colours, collages, pointillism and strong strokes of the paintbrush.” The pictures that reproduce sets of buildings have become known as totemic, causing a feeling of dizziness on contemplating these works, as if the urban space as depicted there could unfold into a maze of concrete and symbols.
Faces and bodies emerge from the landscape and their contours get mixed up and undergo metamorphosis, contaminating the landscape with the human mark, even if in stylised form.
The superimposition of colours, planes and geometric figures, with primitivist strokes, creates a mass of different forms on the screen which drags the eyes to the worrying and diffuse movement of the streets, in a game involving contrasts and symmetries which are often close to an exaggerated symbolism, almost abstract. Aurelino incorporates the contradictions of the city space in pictures, thereby breaking the barriers of the trivialisation of concrete with chromatic friction.
“The buildings try to gain life: sometimes they may manage it, and the randomness of proportions denounces an urgency that geometry is normally not capable of; the quality of this painting lies in not hiding the conflict between the rigidness of contours and febrile animation of surfaces, geometry and animism, leading to a maximum moment of tension”, explains Mammì.
The inspiration for Aurelino’s paintings comes from his wanderings around the streets and alleyways of Ondina, the part of Salvador where he lives and from where he collects materials from daily life and also from the imagination, architecture and fantasy, until the extraction of a scenario that is moving and undergoing transformation.
Like a quick yet precise portrait, the paintings by Aurelino capture the true spirit of the city, its human heartbeat and also the risks of decomposition, representing a possible visual identity for the citizen, plastic and ethical at the same time, between the real city and the imagined one.




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