The eloquent shell of the heart

The seri­es of plywo­od boards spre­ad around the room form engra­ved wood walls. They are pain­ted reli­efs that were gai­ned auto­nomy as a work after the end of their use­ful life as big wood­cut stamp. Together, they allu­de to trun­ca­te nar­ra­ti­ves, frag­ments of sto­ri­es, modu­les of time, dis­pla­ced cha­rac­ters. Har­dly clas­si­fi­a­ble, The Elo­quent Shell of the Heart mixes ins­tal­la­ti­on, drawing, pain­ting and sculpture.

And it would not be inap­pro­pri­a­te to say that lite­ra­tu­re is also pre­sent — the work’s title has its sour­ce in a poem by Edmond Jabès: “The heart is an arc at the threshold of our age, an elo­quent shell (for itself) betwe­en the fin­gers of a clair­voyant.” Jabès’ wri­tings deals with sour­ce and des­ti­na­ti­on issu­es, whi­ch are unders­to­od not as fixed points, but as moving nuclei. So mova­ble and recom­bi­nant are the plywo­od boards of Fabri­cio Lopez’ work. Besi­des, Jabès’ poe­try is a poe­tics of the foreig­ner, who­se ide­as of pla­ce, habi­ta­ti­on, occu­pa­ti­on, iden­tity and belon­ging are inter­ro­ga­ted. Such ques­ti­ons are sha­red with Lopez’ poe­tics, not as foreig­ner, but as some­o­ne trying to appro­pri­a­te his own pla­ces in an incre­a­sin­gly ful­ler way.

The San­tos city’s his­to­ric cen­ter, the port area, the bea­ches and the man­gro­ve are the out­fall of the ima­ges the artist cap­tu­res and then trans­fi­gu­res into his work. A sin­king boat, a beg­gar sle­e­ping on the sidewalk, moths, a pas­ser-by with an umbrel­la. Cha­rac­ters somewhat simi­lar to Oswal­do Goeldi’s ones are enclo­sed in the shell of per­so­nal daily expe­ri­en­ce of the world. But they are not pro­tec­ted by this inte­ri­or: the figu­res are somewhat worn out, immer­sed into the sali­ne cor­ro­si­on of the salty air; the cut wood sur­fa­ce is meat without blood.

In the one of the many books pre­sent in Fabri­cio Lopez’ stu­dio, one can read the name Har­lan Hub­bard. This rela­ti­on also makes sen­se sin­ce, apart the con­tex­tu­al dif­fe­ren­ces, both artists have the wood­cut as a mean of expres­si­on, and for both of them the lands­ca­pe they sha­re spa­ce with is the base for their ima­gi­nary. In his Jour­nals (1939), Hub­bard wri­tes: “The­re must be a per­fect balan­ce betwe­en the abs­tract and rea­lity in a pic­tu­re. Every sha­pe, line and color must be part of the design and still be an effec­ti­ve part of the pic­tu­re, true to life.” Such gui­de­li­ne may also be seen in Lopez’ work, whe­re obser­va­ti­o­nal drawing, deve­lop­ment of the form and poe­tic cre­a­ti­on join for­ces to form the image.

Priscila Sacchettin is a post-doctoral researcher at the Museum of Contemporary Art, University of São Paulo (MAC-USP). D. in Art History from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) with an internship at Université Sorbonne/Paris Diderot. She holds a BA and an MA in Philosophy from the University of São Paulo (USP).