The saddest nation
In the most rotten time
Is made up of possible
Groups of lynchers
Caetano Veloso, O cu do mundo
The program of dismantling the Brazilian State by the current government has brought with it a succession of acts and discourses of violence and stupidity, which are practiced as if they were the very exercise of politics. From there on, signs abound of a country on the road to barbarism. For example: when, for a period of two years, from 2020 to 2021, the number of daily deaths resulting from this ongoing pandemic reached shocking levels in Brazil; now, when attacks and murders with horrifying and revolting motives (due to racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, ideological differences, dispute over land and indigenous territories) multiply; and when authorities show a mixture of sadism and incompetence when dealing with these disappearances. It is Brazil being the ass of the world.
In this parallel country, there is a succession of official lies and blunders, coordinated actions to destroy the environment, the undermining of institutions and administrative procedures, repeated threats against the democratic rule of law, and the encouragement of citizens to arm themselves, in an array of crimes that hardly seemed possible. But in showing that they are, the horizon of expectations is being greatly reduced and the present is pressured into a state of emergency. One really wonders if it will be tomorrow or another day. Because just as resounding as the debacle are silence and inaction.
How can a public demonstration be made today, from the field of art, that is (not only, but also) a position that takes a stand before this grim scenario? With the fury that the context generates and which is demanded to confront it, and without the choices for the realization of the work being only reactive. With constructive operations that are robust and, at the same time, open to unforeseen meanings. So that the proposals address and are addressed to unexpected places, beyond the immediate, the judgmental, and the prescriptive, beyond the illustrative, the pamphlet, and the slogan. Without emptying the political sense of combat or betraying the internal motivations of the work.
Selva, by Fabrício Lopez, is an exhibition mobilized by questions of this kind: about the conditions of possibility of making an acute and relevant presence (despite the low popular reach of visual arts), which is sensitive and imaginative (beyond the dimension of purely subjective expression), in a scenario of urgencies. A disquiet that presents itself right from the start in the scale of the works, denoting this production’s public vocation and determination to be comprehensive. And it is not that these works are necessarily large in size, nor are they among the largest made by the artist. But they are large works, due to the proportions in which the relationships between image, medium, and architecture take place.
The fact that the operations of production fill and “bleed”, in general, the surfaces on which they intervene, does not go unnoticed here. Nor does the intensity of the elements, the lines, the figures, the suggestions of figures, sometimes intricate but always vibrant, go unnoticed. And it is not without reason that the distribution of this group of works in the gallery was planned to take up the walls. In fact, the exhibition is arranged in the space with vigor, with weight – and even with a certain saturation or brutality. In the overview, the works connect easily with each other. And despite the particularities of each, they all display a graphic dynamism whose traces ricochet in sinuous movements in all directions. In the environment, the threads spread, mirror, rebound, and complete each other, crossing the space, from there to here, from here to there. Almost as if an electric discharge ran through them and stimulated them into current, into virtual connections detached from the walls.
The restlessness and the breadth of interests are notable, also, in Fabrício’s dealing with diverse languages, materials, and procedures, favoring impure, hybrid solutions, formed by mixtures and intersections. (At this point, it is interesting to observe the strong link between Fabrício’s reputation and the practice of woodcut printing – in all, over 20 years of dedication to the technique –, when, in fact, this association is not due to any kind of traditionalist attachment, or concern with delimiting and preserving a specific, specialized technical domain, proper to specialists – on the contrary).
Among the main features of Fabrício Lopez’s work is the distending of the limits of printmaking. There are operations that incorporate resources from other expressions to the production of the print; as well as, over time, the appearance within the production of processes that do not even occur in printmaking. In any case, Fabrício’s work is usually known for its mural scale enlargement of woodcut prints; for reworking and presenting large format matrices as the final medium for printmaking, the work of Fabrício Lopez is a distension of the limits of printmaking. In any case, Fabrício’s work is usually referenced by the enlargement to the mural scale of woodcut prints; for reworking and presenting large format matrices as the final medium of the work; for exploring to the last consequences and in a heterodox manner, the materials, the tools and the different stages of the woodcut process; or even by incorporating, in these experiences, also the materials, the tools, the processes and the repertoires of other languages of the visual arts – drawing, painting, collage, relief, photography, installation – and of other manifestations – cinema, comics, literature.
Through this practice, the artist arrived at the series of reliefs that gives the show its title, Selva. In these works, Fabrício presents for the first time a work with painting and carving on wooden plates (in sizes standardized by the trade) that havent been used before as a matrix – and that were, therefore, attacked from the start to be as they are presented now. The “jungle” here is a vast expanse of different planes, with operations that begin with markings made with charcoal, followed by watery India ink applied with a rolling pin and brushes, and then again by cuts in the medium made with a gouge. In the result, contrasts emerge: between blacks with different densities, from the charcoal and the more and less liquefied inks; between all the blacks and the rawness of the wood; between what comes from drawing, what comes from painting, and what comes from carving, at the same time intermingled and in constant negotiation.
The “jungle” thickens, thus, in the crossing and superposition of these stains, lines, and recesses, which converge to form what is perhaps a somber landscape, a bit like the German expressionist film sets of the early 20th century, with the projection of twisted or angular shadows; similar to the mountains and vaporous vegetation of sumi‑e; and similar to Japanese horror comics, in the lines that wind across the surface in wide, expressive, or repetitive gestures. The result is really quite allusive, suggestive of things at first nonsensical. The sequence of four panels, for example, perhaps even suggests the linking of images, of “takes”, the passages from one phenomenon to another, from plate to plate, but without establishing a discursive narrative, without fixing the representation of a scene. In the end, the insinuations, which are not few, prevail.
The strength of the line of drawing and the hybrid processes of realization also define Anotações. The exhibition presents nine works from the series, presently composed of a further 11. The works arise from drawings made with ballpoint pen by the artist in a daily notebook. The selected images are then scanned, enlarged, and printed, by means of serigraphy, onto fabrics. In these leaps – from one size to another, from one materiality to another – the drawings acquire ambiguous extension and intensity, as they acquire assertiveness, in projection with visual impact, while preserving the speculative nature of the rapid tracing, of probing and testing.
On each screen, there is the print of a couple of pages of the notebook. Each image consists of one or two drawings (either one that occupies two pages, or two that stand in friction or integration). These are the most figurative works in the exhibition, and this is only interesting because of the variety of motifs chosen for representation, which ends up reinforcing the diversity also of the graphic solutions involved in their production. On the canvases, human figures, animals, objects, domestic interior scenes, and landscapes are identifiable. The expressionist inclinations of Fabrício Lopez’s production seem to allude to Iberê Camargo, Marcelo Grassmann, and Vânia Mignone. The pluralism continues with an alternation between heavy, dense drawings and other, economical ones; between foliage and rustic, dry landscapes; between, on the one hand, phantasmagoric and monstrous creatures and atmospheres and, on the other, the objective, functional materiality of utilitarian objects.
By way of reversal, it must be said, towards the end of the text, that the exhibition begins with a non-conformist work right from its title. The Ass of the World is a work on paper that bears the print of sparse images from various sources and moments of Fabricio’s production, spread over a saturated field of shapes and colors, and printed from lost matrices. One can distinguish here the head and neck of a big horse, a small goat, a glove or a flattened hand, a seated human figure, the structure of a house, a small car in the lower right corner, maybe some tree branches in the upper part, maybe the silhouette of a reddish creature also on the right, but from then on it is guesswork…
Beings, pieces of beings, things, projects of things, appear diffuse and simultaneous on a surface with a vastness and a capacity for concatenation that are proper to dreams and memory – instances in which sensations, perceptions, and representations are built, added, mixed, and erased. Even the aspect of out-of-register printing in areas of work contributes to the idea that these are figures gathered together in a mental image: imprecise and blurred. Fabricio Lopez’s quality as a colorist also has a high point there. The ways in which pink, yellow, red, orange, green, blue, and black mark areas, outline and dye figures, the ways in which these colors juxtapose and overlap (not only by printing, but also in the use of the brush), or even by a veiling that seems to cross and lick part of the figure of the horse, on the left of the paper – all this maintains an active and uninterrupted game of successive bindings and unbindings, knotted and disjointed, in first, second, third, and fourth planes.
Besides this, two other works in the exhibition were made from lost matrices, Chama Maré [Call the Tide] and Dia Partido [Split Day]. The images refer to plants, leaves, flowers, to a disorder of vegetation – in the green, with freshness, in the red, with incandescence. But the development of what is presented is, by contradiction, a shattering of forms and figures; or, by the way it is shown, in the suggestion of impetuous movements, a violent release of energy. Because of the spatial configuration of the show, these fragments connect to those airy, nervous lines, half hanging, but in embarrassment, that are detached from the plates of Selva, the series. Selva, the show, closes, thus, as a circuit, a thick structuring, compact and, even against the wear and tear that the word goes through, resistant. Incidentally, the title of this exhibition bears a word that is the order of the day. Both because it designates one of the biomes, today under threat, and because of the reference, in the figurative sense, to this place where, through difficulties, people fight for survival. In both meanings, “selva” has a lot to do with Brazil now, the ass of the world, this place of ours.