My friendship with Elisa goes back many years. I have admired the person and the artist for a long time. There was a mutual desire for us to do a project at Galeria Estação. The moment has arrived in the most natural way possible through the works presented in this exhibition.
The materials used by Elisa are mainly wood and clay. These are common elements used by the gallery's artists. They show as we have done on numerous occasions that there are no barriers between erudite and non-erudite art. Art is good or bad.
For us, in addition to the pleasure of working with an exhibition as complex as the one we present here, is also a learning experience and a challenge.
Elisa Bracher: No Man's Land
In her new exhibition, Elisa Bracher turns to the artisanal languages ??of the traditional rural world: the typical services of small towns and the country life. Some works are based on techniques used to erect buildings, shape commonly used artifacts, create tools through manual labor and surround the land. In a way, they are a representation of a certain life in small rural communities. They are to be thought of in counterpoint and opposition, for example, to the works made about these places by great Brazilian artists, such as Alfredo Volpi.
Two sculptures are clear representations of elements of Brazilian material culture. The first is a tall, curved wooden wall that seems heavily anchored to the floor but appears leaning toward the viewer as if on one foot. Although it resembles a bucket, it is actually modeled off of a trough used to store food and serve meals. Now standing upright, its utility becomes obscure and throws the viewer off balance. The object is out of context and devoid of all functional relationship.
The impression that things become useless permeates the entire exhibition. The other sculpture is an open and brittle cube made of wattle and daub like the houses in the poorest rural areas of the Brazilian interior. It is a cube not a house. Just as the heavy trunk that cuts through it has become a wedge, it is no longer a tree.
Both works are made using techniques common to the crafts that make daily subsistence possible. I think it's important that they are activities often performed by female hands.
The biggest work in this exhibition is an accumulation of leftovers from other works. The pieces of stone and wood probably came from the artist's previous sculptures. These are materials that would no longer serve such as joinery, stonework or carving. It's what's left of those activities. Here they look like chipped, broken stumps that pile up, similar to wedges, rail ties, stone pieces, columns and patches. They are like tools, work tools, building materials that have become rubble. The artist gathers them in a fragile balance. One part rests on the others, side by side and stacked. Together, they seem to form an enclosure, all broken, irregular, around empty, dry land. There's nothing else in there.
On a few columns, the artist inserts clay models: small dusty country huts, such as the wattle and daub houses that serve as a model for the sculpture. The houses are in that arid setting, isolated from one another, as if they had been abandoned long ago. They are the spoils of a way of life abandoned by most of those who were there. The figure is less the image of metaphysical painting and more of a ghost town. Those places where a social or economic activity has ended, dissipating an entire community.
The reference to more traditional forms of sociability is peculiar to the works that Elisa Bracher shows here. Lorenzo Mammì, in his text entitled “Maneira Branca”, states that there is a presupposed landscape, as an image of what is seen from a distance in Elisa's engravings and sculptures. In most of the sculptures made by the artist, the landscape was densely populated. The shapes were restrained, heavy, punctuated through heaviness, roughness and a certain self-restraint, through challenging fits and balances, a tense and congested public space. But they were a metropolis event.
Even though they always use traditional carving materials, such as marble and wood, in general, her sculptures are very urban. They are pieces with geometric cuts, industrial scale, architectural implementation and constructive fittings, learned from the work of artists such as Lygia Clark, Amilcar de Castro and Sérgio Camargo.
In sculptures, especially (the prints and drawings are different), there is little nature left. Rodrigo Naves, commenting on the large sculptures of embedded wooden logs, explains well this relationship between natural material and industrial treatment. According to the author: “Elisa Bracher starts from organic, vegetable materials, which were industrialized and which are now objects like any other.” Or, even more synthetic, he claims that of the trees that provided the wood for the artist's sculptures, only traces remain. These are pieces marked by their manufacture.
Nature is also residual in this exhibition, but it seems to be closer than in the monumental works made to be implemented in big cities. In a way, I believe that the works also bring greater figurative allusions. Cubes are not abstract geometric shapes. They represent houses. Other architectural reasons for rural, vernacular construction appear: columns, yards and fences. Even the voluminous Gamela resembles a retaining wall. In general, such elements are punctuation marks of an empty space, contained by the structural limits defined by the artist.
It is interesting that the installation containing the remains emulates a fenced yard with an overturned gate and abandoned shacks. This is on display at Galeria Estação. The exhibition space first became known for showing works by great artists from productive contexts of non-canonical art. Some of them are self-taught artists who came from or live in rural areas in the interior of the country.
The artists formed their technical and visual repertoire in dialogue with professional craft services, popular narratives, ornaments from houses and farms. They use as a motive an imaginary that is constantly taught and reinvented by peasant populations. They have a strong relationship with nature, with the cultivation of the land, with what is good and what is frightening.
Artists like José Bezerra, Véio and Conceição dos Bugres take advantage of the raw roughness of the material as subject and quality, although they make different uses of such properties. Generally speaking, they don't smooth the material, they preserve the indomitable appearance on their surfaces and their figures. They do not conform to recognizable designations. Such wild appearance, in the work of José Bezerra, for example, lends an intermediate character to some sculptures. A piece of wood can be at the same time, depending on where you look, a fallen tree branch, plant, snake or person.
As an untamed and uncontrollable way of life, sculpture resists immediate identification. It changes according to the situation and looks ready for the next metamorphosis. Even its pieces of nature pulled on the ground continue to live according to a permanent transformation cycle. Objects, people, other animals, plants, houses and the road, everything is subject to a greater natural time, which will fulfill its cycle despite human projects and desires.
Elisa Bracher's works are not about that time, they are not about that world. Things here happen with a shorter deadline. Although her material is also raw, poorly smoothed, it does not presuppose a force that suggests the passage from one nature to another.
In the installation and in the sculptures, the materials cut the link from their natural origin. These are things. Only the traces of what they were are there like the bone of a dead body. Those elements, which are brought together in an irregular way, poorly arranged, in precarious balance, as is typical of rubble are not scratched or brutish from being wild in transformation. They are the way they are from being aged and weakened. Her material is lumpy because it's worn out. There are no forces of nature there. Everything has already been taken from the ground. What is left is the gate and maybe a few memories. The elements are not governed by a life greater than the short existence of people's lives. They are empty, dusty and abandoned.
The sculptures are a reminder of a life that existed there and is gone. Those things piled up look like the spoils of the rural exodus. With urbanization, the rural exodus, people left the place where they grew up. Along with them, all social ties went away: with their families and with their friends. Often, the activities that people have been dedicated to all their lives are left behind, left in the past. The way of life is no longer the same.
As in Elisa Bracher's installation, all that is piling up is abandoned. There are still little toy houses, tools and materials from handicrafts left and cluttered, giving limits to that piece of ground. These materials are also the memory of ways of working, knowledge that people who lived in wattle and daub houses could not take with them. Activities that ate dust when misery tightened its snare. In the more literal wattle and daub sculpture, the artist uses the metaphor of collapse. A roof that opens after the trunk falls on the volume. Everyone left. It is salty land, where nothing is planted, nothing grows. Those who couldn't stay tell the new generations distant memories more or less idealized.
In some of the drawings, we see those hills traced with thin, fragile lines. Strokes appear away from the edges of the paper. They don't seem to establish a determined ground which gives gravity to those shapes. They hover over a surface stained with a tinge of oxidation or clotted blood. They are visions from far, far away, from places that are out there, but no one sees up close.
1 MAMMÌ, Lorenzo. "White way (Elisa Bracher)". In: What's left: art and art critic. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012, p. 184.
2 NAVES, Rodrigo. "Elisa Bracher: Wood on wood". In: The wind and the mill. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2007, p. 344.
3 Ibidem, p. 333.
ELISA BRACHER: NO MAN’S LAND
With an installation, drawings, monotypes, paintings on paper, engravings and sculptures, Elisa Bracher's solo exhibition “No Man’s Land” at Galeria Estação, in São Paulo, proposes, based on her contemporary poetics, figurations and objects with traces of artifacts, raw materials and traditional manual techniques
Through the gesture of making, present in different ways in Elisa Bracher's production and artistic career, “No Man’s Land” solo exhibition by the artist at Galeria Estação, in São Paulo, presents figurations and objects of traces of artifacts, raw materials and traditional manual techniques based on her contemporary poetics. The exhibition, which opens on Saturday, August 28, at 11:00 am, and remains on view until October 2, 2021, features 35 works displayed in three gallery spaces. It includes drawings, monotypes, paintings on paper, prints, sculptures and an installation.
At the entrance to Galeria Estação, a huge sculpture in angelim wood, curved on the wall and heavy on the floor, leans towards the viewer. In reality, this work starts from the shape of the troughs, those old utensils in which food and meals were kept, and in the exhibition space unbalances our gaze and loses its original functionality.
The second sculpture, an open cube made of wattle and daub – a technique used to build old popular houses in the interior of Brazil –, is now cut no longer as it was traditionally, by a tree, but by a cane. The third sculpture made of wood and ceramics materialized in three stacked wooden blocks embeds typical houses of the interior made of wattle and daub leaving only their facades visible. The fourth one takes up the plastic of the small houses embedded in the structures but this time with the blocks nailed to the wall and positioned side by side. The fifth sculpture features a sloping round earthen base, with a wooden structure resting on top.
The installation exposes the traces of wood, marble and ceramics, materials that appear supported on each other as if trying to delimit a space between the interior and the exterior of the work. As Elisa Bracher points out: “This exhibition presents works started more than ten years ago. Drawings and engravings show mountains and landscapes that dissolve and rebuild over time. The sculptures only happened when they found a place to be. The moment we agreed to have the exhibition at Galeria Estação, the works came into being. They already inhabited in me but the place that would welcome them was lacking. The installation 'Restos' in a new body is the transition”.
The five sculptures and the installation that will be shown to the public, and which bring elements of the tradition of Brazilian material culture, dialogue with the drawings. In her process, Bracher starts from the material, which suggests the form and construction of the image. Unlike the lines in the engravings, built with the precision of metal tools on rice paper, in the drawings the hills traced in thin and fragile lines suggest a detachment, a separation from the ground. “They hover over a surface stained with a tinge of oxidation or clotted blood. They are visions from far, far away, from places that are out there, but that no one sees up close”, says Tiago Mesquita in a curatorial text.
In turn, the work with the monotypes present in the exhibition starts from a dialogue with the conductor and pianist Rodrigo Felicíssimo. Bracher exercises in this visual language the spatial marking formed by lines detached above the curves and shapes of mountains. It is a plastic landscape that dialogues with the pianist's research.
Felicíssimo's research focuses on one of the methods of creation by conductor Heitor Villa-Lobos. For the composition of Symphony nº 6, entitled “About the line of the mountains”, Villa-Lobos composed the design of the musical score based on the observation of the curvatures of the lines that the tops of the mountains trace on the horizon. Both in the symphony and in Bracher's research, the form manifested in space is not disconnected from the abstraction of sonority; in Felicíssimo, the soundscape expands the senses through the perception of the plastic landscape.
Elisa Bracher’s solo exhibition “No Man’s Land” at Galeria Estação.
Opening: Saturday , August 28, at 11am.
From August 30th (Monday) to October 2nd (Saturday).
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 11am to 7pm / Saturdays from 11am to 3pm.
Address: Rua Ferreira Araújo, 625 – Pinheiros – São Paulo / SP | CEP: 05428-001
Phones: 11 3813.7253 and 11 3813.6355
ABOUT GALERIA ESTAÇÃO
With one of the most important collections in the country, Galeria Estação, opened at the end of 2004, was renowned for revealing and promoting the production of non-erudite Brazilian art. The gallery was responsible for the inclusion of this language in the contemporary art scene, by editing publications and holding solo and group exhibitions in the country as well as abroad.
Galeria Estação works with well-known self-thought artists from various regions of Brazil, such as Agostinho Batista de Freitas, Alcides dos Santos, Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato, Artur Pereira, Aurelino dos Santos, Chico Tabibuia, Cicero Alves dos Santos-Véio, GTO, Gilvan Samico, Itamar Julião, João Cosmo Felix-Nino, José Antônio da Silva, José Bezerra, Manuel Graciano, Maria Auxiliadora, Mirian Inês da Silva, Neves Torres, among others. Currently, the gallery has been incorporating to its cast artists from the contemporary artistic circuit whose works dialogue with non-erudite creation, such as José Bernnô, Germana Monte-Mór, Moisés Patrício, Santídio Pereira and André Ricardo. Having this rare competence as a starting point, the space manages to offer a historical and current panorama of a production that went beyond the limits of popular art, while investigating names that, regardless of background, work with elements from the same source.