Fabricio Lopez: bond and openness

Fabrí­cio Lopez’s etchings on lar­ge plywo­od and planks pos­sess a monu­men­tal sca­le. It is a work that does not address only the eyes, but the enti­re body and the sur­roun­ding spa­ce. Likewi­se, the hand­craf­ted pro­cess of engra­ving and prin­ting requi­res tre­men­dous bodily effort. Lar­ge she­ets of wood are laid out on the flo­or and the artist’s strength and tools are appli­ed to them, lite­rally plun­ging his enti­re body into each matrix.

The way Fabrí­cio fixes the prin­ted papers direc­tly on the wall, assem­bled by parts and pas­ted with a brush, is ana­lo­gous to the lam­be-lam­be pos­ters so recur­rent in lar­ge citi­es. Howe­ver, his prints ste­er cle­ar of refe­ren­ces to mass cul­tu­re and adver­ti­se­ments that encou­ra­ge rapid con­sump­ti­on. On the con­trary, his work demands pro­lon­ged and atten­ti­ve con­tact from the public, as it is full of sub­tle­ti­es and has nothing imme­di­a­te or dis­po­sa­ble. Each of his wood­cuts invol­ves seve­ral layers and supe­rim­po­si­ti­ons of tones. Colors sus­tain the enti­re com­po­si­ti­on both in the lands­ca­pe exhi­bi­ted at CCSP as well as in other pro­jects. From the colors spring eva­nes­cent ima­ges, icons that hover in the back­ground and betwe­en the pla­nes, that from time to time rise to the sur­fa­ce and come to the fore­ground. It is from the rela­ti­onship betwe­en the sur­fa­ce of the ima­ge and its dee­per layers that the com­ple­xity of the prints emer­ges. The­re is in his work an inten­se rela­ti­onship with the gre­at modern tra­di­ti­on of print­ma­king. Some of his works, incre­di­bly, take up cer­tain dark and den­se envi­ron­ments like tho­se inven­ted by Oswal­do Goel­di, but on a com­ple­tely dif­fe­rent sca­le and with a com­ple­tely dif­fe­rent ran­ge of colors.

The work he pro­du­ced for CCSP’s 2011 Exhi­bi­ti­on Pro­gram draws, in a dif­fe­rent way, from another gre­at Bra­zi­li­an artist: Mar­ce­lo Gras­s­mann and his expres­si­ve drawings of the 1940s, that belong to the Cole­ção de Arte da Cida­de. Gras­s­mann’s ima­gery is full of sha­dows and fan­tas­tic beings. The artist took his pla­ce in art his­tory not only for being a part of the nas­cent Bra­zi­li­an graphic arts, but also for his refe­ren­ces to Hie­rony­mus Bos­ch’s hell and bes­ti­ary. His reper­toi­re is lin­ked to the magi­cal, mytho­lo­gi­cal, and medi­e­val uni­ver­se, popu­la­ted by demons, hybrid figu­res, and other mons­ters pre­sent in fables and tra­di­ti­o­nal stories.

The Gras­s­mann drawings cho­sen by Fabrí­cio indi­rec­tly con­ver­se with his lands­ca­pe in the wood­cut panel. Esta­blishing links and pro­vo­king clashes with works by other authors is fun­da­men­tal in this artist’s pro­po­sal. The pro­ject is the fruit of Fabrí­ci­o’s rese­ar­ch on the col­lec­ti­on hou­sed in the ins­ti­tu­ti­on and, besi­des taking into account the for­mal and the­ma­tic rela­ti­onships among the works, it also deals with tech­ni­cal con­ser­va­ti­on issu­es such as the amount of light, tem­pe­ra­tu­re vari­a­ti­on, and security.

In Fabrí­ci­o’s case, it is not only about using con­se­cra­ted or ins­ti­tu­ti­o­na­li­zed works as a refe­ren­ce or star­ting point for his pro­cess, even if the pro­ject assu­mes a tone of homa­ge to a cen­tral figu­re in the graphic arts. On the con­trary, the rela­ti­onship betwe­en his prints and pie­ces by artists such as Gras­s­mann is built a pos­te­ri­o­ri. This pro­ce­du­re is clo­se to the role tra­di­ti­o­nally assu­med by a cura­tor. Each work, when jux­ta­po­sed to another, acqui­res and gives mea­ning. This hap­pens becau­se works of art are open tota­li­ti­es, they are enough in them­sel­ves, but they dia­lo­gue both with their sur­roun­dings and with tho­se who see them. This is why the public can esta­blish a seri­es of pos­si­ble con­nec­ti­ons with what it con­tem­pla­tes, not just pas­si­vely recei­ving infor­ma­ti­on, but assu­ming an acti­ve gaze.

Fabrí­ci­o’s wood­cuts are not clo­sed in on them­sel­ves. Ins­te­ad of the artist clai­ming some auto­nomy, cons­truc­ting a neu­tral spa­ce, or trying to iso­la­te the inter­nal mea­nings of his work, he is inte­res­ted in the links that the print can esta­blish with the spa­ce in whi­ch it is exhi­bi­ted. Fabrí­cio Lopez fits into the tra­di­ti­on of Bra­zi­li­an print­ma­king, not only by taking up the his­tory and the work of gre­at mas­ters, but also by ope­ning the way for other expe­ri­en­ces, his own works and tho­se of artists yet to come.

Cauê Alves is professor of the course Art: history, criticism and curatorship at PUC-SP and curator of the Engraving Club at MAM-SP. In 2011 he was curator of the 32nd Panorama of Brazilian Art and joint curator of the 8th Bienal do Mercosul.