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06/09/2012 | Rough Contact with the World | O Estado de São Paulo - CADERNO2 - By Rodrigo Naves

In the creation of Artur Bispo do Rosário, the word acquires a whole new meaning. In visual arts, Bispo is one of the most important of artists with a non-traditional origin. 2 September 2012 | 3:09 a.m. Rodrigo Naves - O Estado de S.Paulo. It is difficult not to get emotional with the efforts made by Brazilian men and women who, against all expectations, have created conditions to give a certain format to their own experiences of the world: Arthur Bispo do Rosário, Raphael Domingues, Carolina de Jesus, Emygdio de Barros, Cartola, Dona Izabel, Artur Pereira, José Bezerra, Nelson Cavaquinho, Clementina de Jesus, Cícero Alves dos Santos (Véio), and a host of others. This because, for us to achieve real possibilities for communications, the need to expand the scope of action of our experience does not suffice. For this, it is also necessary to acquire the appropriate means of expression, whether colours, sounds, words or wood. A country which has been so seriously afflicted by social inequalities like Brazil has produced a significant number of artists and athletes – I consider it important to bring them together – of poor origin who have managed to find a way of overcoming their social adversities through different means of expression. If social injustice has not found an effective political response among us – at least until the 1980s, it seems out of the question that artistically our cultural medium would be much less rich without the contributions of those who would have everything to remain silent, at the side. A short time ago I started to have more contact with the artistic production considered of a popular ilk, also considered virgin, raw or naïve. I do not believe that this whole type of art has common characteristics, apart from the relative exclusion to which it has been led. I also do not think that the difficulties amid which these works were produced would justify a relapsed assessment thereof, even though in many cases we are not able to locate them well. However, there is the presence therein of recurring elements: a rougher experience of the world, a distance in relation to the idea of a reality converted into an image (an assumption for a considerable part of contemporary art) and also the lack of respect for set standards and regulations which, for better or worse, end up permeating a significant part of institutional art. Everything suggests that these were the characteristics that led to the selection of Arthur Bispo do Rosario (1911- 1989) for this Biennial Exhibition. In the visual arts, Bispo is one of the figures that has stood out most among the artists with non-traditional origins. The fact that he has distanced himself from the traditional artistic techniques – painting, drawing and the like – has brought him closer, at least externally, to contemporary issues and forms, thereby increasing general interest in his work. The path trailed by Bispo has a lot to do with the creation of a myth. “One day I simply appeared in this world”, he said. He was a son of God, protected by the Virgin Mary, and his task in this world was to recreate it for putting things right on the Judgement Day. He was a sailor and a boxer. He took care of the trams of the Light Company and was also a security guard at a medical clinic. He was admitted for medical care for the first time in 1938, having for a long time received the support of the family of his solicitor, José Maria Leone; as from 1964, he was almost a permanent resident of the Juliano Moreira colony, where he carried out most of his work. I believe that, for better or worse, his reconstruction of the world was more successful in his embroidered items – with which he embodied words, figures and geometrical shapes -, blankets, standards and miniatures, rather than in the work which, for the sake of convenience, we would call assemblages, collages or appropriations. Bispo do Rosário was required to rename or redesign people, things and creeds. Everything that was “transfigured” through the activities of his hands would acquire a new spirituality, becoming matter dyed, as it were, with a kind of archaic spirituality, strict and severe. However, the mere juxtaposition of mugs, shoes, buttons, combs or spoons has not, in my opinion, managed to produce a transformation in line with his project. This could be because in these very work projects his hands no longer tried to reconstruct things, but rather just put them in order. Curiously, I believe that no other Brazilian artist – Hélio Oiticica may have been moved by similar ambitions – could have handled such ample issues, with such complex questioning, even is supported by an orthodox and intolerant form of Christianity. The same Christianity which led him to frequent fasting, to abstinence from consumption of meat, alcohol and tobacco, in the morality in judgement of women. In his embroidery work – which could compulsively engrave names of people, religious excerpts or advertising texts – the word acquired a new reality. It would be difficult not to think of the Gospel of St John on looking at many of these objects: “In the beginning, it was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (…) And the Word became flesh and lived among us”. And there was also the combination, in the embroidery works, of more literary passages (“I shall now pass inspection fallen men’s bodies and of the dead revert their bodies…”) with passages that are almost pop in nature (“Alpargatas Havaianas flip-flops, “clean ears cotton swabs”, “ten 10-cent coins, one cruzeiro and one conto”) gives his embroidery works and standards some interest that partly blots out the gravity of his venture on Earth. The crude reality that Bispo gave to his words could suggest a new form of spirituality. I am convinced that the questions raised for his work necessarily involve some religious thought of doubtful value for the reality of our days. It was the efforts to materialise this in a new manner worthy of his ambitions that freed his work from a religious devotion that could make all his work be lost. SOURCE: http://www.estadao.com.br/noticias/impresso,na-criacao-de-artur-bispo-do-rosario-a-palavra-adquire-novas-realidades,924814,0.htm




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