Fabricio Lopez, the impure existence

Fabrí­cio Lopez is one of the most impor­tant Bra­zi­li­an print­ma­kers, in addi­ti­on to main­tai­ning, with Fla­vio Cas­tel­lan, a sig­ni­fi­cant acti­vity of tea­ching print­ma­king at the Acaia Ins­ti­tu­te, an NGO that has been deve­lo­ping very pro­mi­sing young artists.

His most recent exhi­bi­ti­on, whi­ch runs until August 26 at Gale­ria Marí­lia Razuk, dis­plays qua­li­ti­es rarely found in print­ma­king exhi­bi­ti­ons. It is not unu­su­al, espe­ci­ally in metal engra­vings, for artists to be enchan­ted by the tech­ni­cal pro­ce­du­res – often com­plex – invol­ved in the­se works and lose them­sel­ves in a vir­tu­o­sity that seems to sum up all the limi­ta­ti­ons of abs­tract works of lit­tle quality.

Sin­ce the begin­ning of his more matu­re pro­duc­ti­on, around 1994, Fabrí­cio Lopez opens his figu­res in a frank and deci­si­ve man­ner, without being car­ri­ed away by a tech­ni­cal refi­ne­ment that tends to exhaust itself. In the cur­rent show, a kind of col­la­ge of ima­ges stands out, obtai­ned by supe­rim­po­sing drawings from vari­ous matri­ces, as if it were a cubist ope­ra­ti­on per­for­med by supe­rim­po­sing memo­ri­es, gazes, and ima­gi­ned things.

The simul­ta­neity of events of a very dif­fe­rent order, becau­se they pre­sup­po­se dif­fe­rent rela­ti­ons with rea­lity, can bring a diver, ampho­rae, and tre­es together. And a half-dirty but pre­ci­se arti­cu­la­ti­on mana­ges to give the dif­fe­rent ima­ges a sta­tus that allows the obser­ver to expe­ri­en­ce them in their par­ti­cu­la­ri­ti­es. In fact, a tree seen dif­fers gre­a­tly from a tree remem­be­red or imagined.

The impu­re mix­tu­re of whi­ch our cons­ci­ous­ness is made acqui­res in the­se works a sedi­men­tary visu­al repre­sen­ta­ti­on, a pre­ca­ri­ous (and plau­si­ble) orga­ni­za­ti­on of events that we assi­mi­la­te in a totally une­qual way. After all, the kni­fe we use to eat our lun­ch and the one that wounds us, although iden­ti­cal, will be expe­ri­en­ced in a very dif­fe­rent way. Rou­ti­ne and time also depo­sit their sedi­ments on facts and things.

What really makes the­se works effec­ti­ve to the eye – and not just another dull nar­ra­ti­ve – lies in Fabrí­ci­o’s abi­lity to visu­ally reve­al this impu­re allu­vium that we are made of. And this resi­des in the very plot of his etchings, whi­ch are also a somewhat ran­dom depo­si­ti­on of ima­ges. For this rea­son it seems to me that pain­ted matri­ces – whi­ch the artist calls “pain­ted sculp­tu­res” – have a lower capa­city to reve­al our pro­ces­ses of for­ma­ti­on. In them, simul­ta­neity only shows itself due to the fact that the forms are arran­ged on the same surface.

The absen­ce of the supe­rim­po­si­ti­ons gives the vari­ous regi­ons a simi­lar inten­sity, whi­ch is har­dly plau­si­ble in rela­ti­on to our expe­ri­en­ce of the world. I also beli­e­ve that the drawings on ace­ta­te she­ets fall short of the ove­rall level of the show by redu­cing the com­ple­xity of our rela­ti­onship with reality.

All this con­si­de­red, we should remem­ber that, in gene­ral, we are not all Fran­kens­teins, although the­re is no lack of imba­lan­ces of all kinds among us. As in the engra­ving with domi­nant blue and light brown, some figu­res stand out, such as the two birds that seem to fall, shot down in mid-flight, or the bran­ches on the upper part.

Hap­pily or unhap­pily, we are not what we want. The will needs to ope­ra­te in a world whe­re the­re are other wills and a den­se rea­lity. The­re is a simi­la­rity betwe­en our for­ma­ti­ve pro­cess and the wood­cut tech­ni­que. The drawing that is tra­ced on the sur­fa­ce of the wood is not mar­ked by the gou­ge like a cir­cle tra­ced on sand.

Depen­ding on the wood and how the wood pla­te was obtai­ned (in wood­cut jar­gon, ‘topo’ wood and ‘fio’ wood), the results in an engra­ving will be different.

I am con­vin­ced that the abi­lity to depict the com­ple­xity of our bonds with rea­lity comes very much from Fabri­cio Lopez’s own artis­tic trai­ning. It was not exac­tly in the uni­ver­sity that he found his path, but in the col­lec­ti­ve work at Espa­ço Corin­ga, whe­re he wor­ked, among others, with Fla­vio Cas­tel­lan and Ulys­ses Bos­co­lo. In this stu­dio, wood­cuts were often made by 4 or even 6 hands. The effort to unders­tand and give con­ti­nuity to the work of others may in fact be the best way to learn to look gene­rously at the world.

Rodrigo Naves is a critic, art historian, and professor with a PhD in aesthetics from the Philosophy Department of the University of São Paulo (USP).