This is the first solo exhibition of the young and talented André Ricardo at Galeria Estação.
André has been with us since the end of 2019. We have been working together through the pandemic, anxiously waiting for the moment to show his most recent body of work.
Throughout this period we have become closer and straightened our ties. In addition to being an artist, Andre became a friend to all of us at the gallery.
He was one of the brilliant students of the painter Paulo Pasta.
André has chosen Tadeu Chiareli for the curatorship, and that honored us. Tadeu, who has been following his work for years has enthusiastically accepted this mission.
By exhibiting André’s works we show how proud and thrilled we are with this artist whose path we now follow.
André Ricardo: between what to paint and how to paint
Since the 1980’s, I've been interested in artists who use ready-made images to produce their work. In 1987 when I was responsible for my first curatorship (Second generation images at mac usp), I dealt with this problem then already part of the artistic environment in São Paulo. At the time, the use of ready-made images was known as “appropriationism” or “quotationism”.
Although some authors quickly decreed that “appropriationism” was just a fad, just another “ism”, it was seen as the neoliberal wave that relativizes everything. The fact is that the use of ready-made images was already part of the creative process of several professionals, a phenomenon that became widespread a few years later after the advent and popularization of digital media (e.g., pcs, cell phones capable of taking and sending photos, etc.). The use of appropriated images from these large digital image banks became the basis of the works of several artists, which for many of them does not remove the intention of producing paintings that question the relativism present in our lives. However, it is necessary to take into account that for many, the appropriation of images was not the only option for the creation of their initial works.
The recent trajectory of the São Paulo born artist André Ricardo is a good example. Despite being raised in a world reorganized by the internet (he was born in 1985), his initial works were based on drawings made during his daily travels between Grajaú (a neighborhood in São Paulo on the southern edges of the city) and usp (west of the city). Recognized as a continuation of exercises produced in classes at the Department of Visual Arts at eca usp, the drawings made on buses (sometimes stopped in traffic jams, sometimes at high speed), were gradually replaced by other drawings, reminiscent of those experiences in which André was impressed by the number of trucks with dump buckets and excavators scattered through the streets and avenues – and also the result of even older experiences.3
As time went by, these reminiscences began to be translated onto canvas, immediately demonstrating how much the young painter seemed to walk in the tradition of painting, echoing a specific formal universe: that of a constructive tradition.4
These first paintings by André did not mention specific works by the great names of those traditions. They looked like “enlarged”5 quotes from those movements, more or less what the Austrian/British Ernst Gombrich – speaking about other periods of art – called the schemata:
These tribes [...], rejected classical beauty in favor of abstract ornament. Perhaps in fact they were contrary to any and all naturalistic forms, but if that is true, we need some other proof. The fact that, by being copied and recopied, the image is assimilated in the schemata of its own artisans demonstrates the same tendency that made the German engraver transform the Castel Sant'Angelo into a wooden Burg. The “will to form” is a “will to conform”, that is, the assimilation of any new form by the schemata and by the models that an artist has learned to manipulate.6
A young artist who practiced representing the reality that surrounded him, when he translates the memories of his wanderings through São Paulo into the territory of painting, he translates them into schemes he understands as fundamentally current: the constructive schemata.
Involved with the formal issues that structured his work, André became increasingly concerned with that tradition to which he had joined almost by default. He let it invade his priorities, putting into the background another interest always present in his conscience: the need for a dialogue between his work and Brazilian reality. Thus, it was from the events that took place in the country between 2015-2016 that the artist established what would be the first "route correction" of his career: impregnated by the issues surrounding Brazil at that time, it begins to become clear to the painter that the structural concern he maintained with the constituent elements of painting – the plane, the line and the color – was no longer enough to appease his desire to establish himself more deeply in the social and political reality of his surroundings.
After all, his paintings had long since ceased to be characterized as abstractions of his experiences through São Paulo: limited to manifestations within the constructive tradition. It was from this awareness that André Ricardo brought into his poetics other aspects of his wanderings in São Paulo: he began to be interested in aspects of the vernacular architecture of the city – especially that which he found in his walks through Campo Limpo, another neighborhood in the city he had moved to – allowing himself to be impregnated by these forms. Little by little, André began to populate his paintings with forms taken from the façades of the neighborhood's residences, highlighting the constructive structures that still remained in his work.
The artist's progression was interesting. Through his interest in the reality he saw around him during his time as a student, it led him to abstractions in dialogue with the constructive tradition. At a given moment, this path no longer satisfied him when he was removed from the impregnation of that reality that had initially motivated them. As an antidote, André looks around again to extract fresh juice for the development of his poetics.
The set of works that make up André Ricardo's exhibition at Galeria Estação brings together those that reflect the reference from ornamental elements of suburban houses – decorative and naive forms, modest swallows of art deco,7 to images he sought in the visual universe of the most diverse artists.
In these works, André adds to the structures from the beginning of his career: signs coming from various origins. It is as if he, after his real experiences through São Paulo, now developed a virtual, continuous transit through the history of images. If in some way, he preserves the schemata inherited from the constructive tradition, it is undeniable how he punctuates these allusions with quotes that immediately refer to those universes of erudite artists who scrutinized/scrutinize popular visuality, as well as to those that sprang from it.
But if André's painting were limited to just these characteristics, it would be little different from the production of several artists of his generation: a well-informed and “creative” painting, with various signs drawn here and there on the internet.
It so happens that André's works differ from that of many of his colleagues in that, with each brushstroke, he reveals a precious knowledge about how to act in the pictorial field. For example, André only refers to Alfredo Volpi and Eleonore Koch through forms and/or spatializations; he also mentions them developing in their canvases a sophisticated and highly erudite pictorial knowledge learned in the close observation of the works of those and other artists of the most respected canon of Western painting.
The concern with the vernacular is visible in the direct or indirect (conscious or unconscious) allusions that André makes to the works of Emmanuel Nassar, Gilvan Samico, Antonio Maia, Véio, Alcides and many others – although André demonstrates to be more interested in what overflows of these so peculiar visual universes, than just in the signs used by all these artists. But let us not be fooled: such references to this broad visual culture of popular extraction are anchored in a pictorial tradition in which “how to paint” is as or more important than “what to paint”.
1 “Considerações sobre o uso de imagens de segunda geração na arte contemporânea”. chiarelli, Tadeu (cur.). Imagens de segunda geração. São Paulo: mac usp, 1987. Republished as “Imagens de Segunda Geração" in chiarelli, Tadeu. Arte internacional brasileira. 2nd ed. São Paulo: Lemos Editorial, 2002, pp. 100 et seq.
2 I start the discussion on the subject in the text: “About Bruno Dunley's mirrors or in search of the lantern of the drowned”. Thadeu Chiarelli. Text for the solo show by artist Bruno Dunley – No meio – held at Galeria Nara Roesler, between June 23 and August 11, 2018. <https://nararoesler.art/exhibitions/137/>.
3 André Ricardo never forgot the few months in which, at the age of 11, he worked in a construction material store. Since that time, these vehicles have interested him as shapes that move, creating unusual angles and planes.
4 It is important to clarify that, here, I understand as belonging to the “constructive tradition” all those artists who, since the beginning of the last century, have been discussing the constituent elements of painting (the plane, the color, the line). In this universe I encompass, from neoplasticists to hard edge artists; from Russian constructivists to Brazilian concrete and neo-concrete. This large universe would also include two important artists in André Ricardo's education: Marco Giannotti and Paulo Pasta, exponents of “Paulista painting”, who, each in their own way, taught the artist in training to know and value the painting of Alfredo Volpi (another “constructive”).
5 The Italian critic Roberto Pasini was the one who coined the two types of quotations: the “punctual” and the “extended”: pasini, R. “Il falso viaggiatore”, in Anni Ottanta, Milão: Mazzotta, 1985.
6 gombrich, Ernst. Arte e ilusão: um estudo da psicologia da representação pictórica. 7. ed. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1995, p. 79.
7 Still very common in the interior of the Brazilian Northeast, this type of ornamentation can be seen in other regions of the country, as well as in the interior of the state of São Paulo and even on the fringes of the São Paulo metropolis.
“ANDRÉ RICARDO: PAINTINGS” GATHERS WORKS OF THE ARTIST IN HIS FIRST SOLO EXHIBITION AT GALERIA ESTAÇÃO
Opening on October 19 and curated by Tadeu Chiarelli, the show brings to the public around 40 works conceived by the painter after two years of isolation, which resulted in intense moments of introspection and production.
“I can only talk about painting, by painting”. With this short sentence full of significance, the artist André Ricardo expresses what, for him, is the exercise of his art. At the age of 36, he opens, on October 19, a solo exhibition at Galeria Estação, his first in this cultural space located in Pinheiros. The exhibition puts together around 40 selected canvases under the curatorial gaze of Tadeu Chiarelli. In line with the artist's speech, the name chosen for the exhibition, “André Ricardo: Pinturas” – “André Ricardo: Paintings” is a synthesis that refers directly to his pictorial work and speaks for itself when presented to the public.
For Chiarelli, in the canvases that make up the exhibition, it is visible how the artist adds signs from various origins to the structures of the beginning of his career. “It's as if he, after his real displacements through São Paulo, was now developing a virtual, continuous transit through the history of images. It is undeniable how he punctuates these allusions with quotes that immediately refer both to those universes of erudite artists who scrutinize popular visuality and to those that sprang from it”, says the senior professor of the Visual Arts Course at usp, former head-curator of the São Paulo mam and former director of the Pinacoteca do Estado and mac-usp. Also according to Chiarelli, André's production differs from that of many of his colleagues. He ponders: "This is due to the fact that, with each brushstroke, he reveals a precious knowledge about how to act in the pictorial field, developing in his works a sophisticated and highly erudite knowledge learned in the close observation of the works of those and others artists of the most respected canon of Western painting”.
As a matter of fact, this opinion is also shared by the gallery owner and art collector Vilma Eid. “What intrigued and enchanted me in André's work is his power to impress truthfulness and demonstrate a great desire for life, in addition to his commitment to art. When I look at him, I see the artist and the painter. And, without a doubt, he is one of the most serious artists I've ever met,” she says. About his entry into the list of artists represented by Estação, she says: “André's arrival stems from a natural process of knowledge that evolved. Furthermore, he shares our ideals. André has been with us since the end of 2019. We spent the pandemic together working and eagerly awaiting the moment to show his latest production”, she says.
Aesthetic impacts and reinterpretation
André's story with Estação, however, precedes his arrival at the gallery. Initiated in the field of paints and brushes at a very young age, he has always expressed his art on canvas and shared his knowledge through private lessons in public and private institutions. Among the many visits to galleries and museums in São Paulo, he took his students to Estação several times. With so many comings and goings, one in particular, in 2017, when he got to know the work of painter Neves Torres from Minas Gerais, had a direct impact on him.
“At the Estação, I ended up having contact with an aesthetic language of a universe of artists that I had little or no knowledge of until then, inside and outside the academic world, even though I graduated in Visual Arts from the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo. Here, I immersed myself in an art history full of surprises and wit. A real refreshment of references where there was a bridge between popular and contemporary production. And it is this sense of art that interests me. In this context, and particularly after seeing the paintings by Neves Torres, by Alcides Pereira dos Santos, which is also another striking reference for me among the artists I met here at the gallery, I stopped to rethink my work in light of everything I've seen”, he says.
The identification with this pictorial grammar that he knew, says the artist, also helped him to access his references to life and memories. “Reviewing this trajectory that culminates with my first exhibition as an artist at the gallery, I assess the establishment of this connection with the collection as coherent. There was already a certain intuition that directed me to review my artistic production based on this collection of great names in Brazilian contemporary and popular art to which I was introduced”, he assesses.
In this sense, that of reviewing his personal and artistic trajectory, he establishes an analogy using a verse from the poem “Às Vezes entre a Tormenta”, by Fernando Pessoa, which says: Because truly feeling is so complicated that only walking wrong you can believe you feel it. “For me, to understand it is necessary to make mistakes. In this verse, Pessoa profoundly summarizes the meaning of the poetic exercise. And the studio is this place where we have the freedom to make mistakes, to go wrong. But it's also the place where we can exercise perseverance, patience and, if everything works out, be surprised by something revealing”, he says.
The revelation, in this case, will come to the public from October 19, when the works selected by Chiarelli for the exhibition will be known. Works conceived in 2020 and produced, almost entirely, during four months in 2021. “Last year was a laboratory in the face of so many uncertainties. I did many studies, watercolors and sketches that ended up molding the necessary stuff for me to develop the work this year. The pandemic, with the social isolation it imposed, meant a moment of intense production and introspection that directly reflects on my technical, poetic and affirmative maturation process. The continuous coexistence and therefore the time in the studio created a time vacuum, opening a particular universe favorable to creation by activating memories and stimulating the poetic exercise that moves the field of ideas and reflections. These works, in my view, are extensions of my own body that materialize the energy that flows in this space of creation”, he says.
Affection and memory, as it should be, are impregnated in the poetics of his canvases and permeate his professional refinement as he mastered, in an almost alchemical way, the millenary technique of tempera. By combining different materials, solutions and pigments, André's creativity is expressed in lines and shapes that print a rich and varied color chart on the canvas. “In my work, color works a lot as a sign of celebration, which also refers to the opening of this exhibition. Color creates this party place, which is so present in both social and cultural manifestations. And the party, it is worth remembering, is also a place of resistance to popular knowledge”, he concludes.
ABOUT ANDRÉ RICARDO
Born in 1985 in São Paulo, where he lives and works, having spent most of his childhood and adolescence in the neighborhoods of Grajaú and Campo Limpo. Graduated in Visual Arts from the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo (2006-20120), he has held several solo and group exhibitions in Brazil, Portugal and Spain. In his compositions, the recurrence of everyday life operates as a trigger of a poetic process that unfolds as a kind of visual chronicle, exposing an imagery universe constituted in the displacement through the city, by the contamination of a repertoire of images that merges with the landscape or, not infrequently it comes from childhood memories. His painting is endowed with a chromatic and constructive intelligence capable of covering the most diverse themes in a schematic way, with a tendency to iconic form, characteristics that mark his approach to a certain popular visuality. The intersection between recognizable figures and abstract elements instigates the viewer to complete the meaning of the work, inviting him to design his own repertoire, not so much the initial theme, but the very familiarity of shapes as a guide for new perspectives.
ABOUT GALERIA ESTAÇÃO
With a collection among the pioneers and most important in the country, Galeria Estação, inaugurated at the end of 2004 by Vilma Eid and Roberto Eid Philipp, was renowned for revealing and promoting the production of non-erudite Brazilian art. The gallery’s performance was decisive for the inclusion of this language in the contemporary artistic circuit, editing publications and holding individual and collective exhibitions under the eyes of the main curators and critics in the country. The cast, which now occupies space in the specialized media, has also been conquering the international scene by participating, among others, in the exhibitions “Histoire de Voir”, at the Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain (France), in 2012, and in the Bienal “Between Two Seas – São Paulo | Valencia”, in Spain, in 2007. Emblematic of this international performance was the individual exhibition of “Véio – Cícero Alves dos Santos”, in Venice, in parallel with the Venice Biennale, in 2013. In Brazil, in addition to individual and prestigious group shows, the gallery's artists have their works in important Brazilian collections and institutions of great prestige and recognition, such as the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, the masp (São Paulo Art Museum), the Afro Brasil Museum (São Paulo), the Pavilion of Brazilian Cultures (São Paulo), Instituto Itaú Cultural (São Paulo), Sesc São Paulo, mam (Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro) and mar, in the capital of Rio de Janeiro.
ANDRÉ RICARDO: PAINTINGS
When: October 19 to November 20
Where: Galeria Estação
Address: Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 625 – Pinheiros, São Paulo
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 11am to 7pm; Saturdays, 11am to 3pm; closed on Sunday
Phone: 55 11 3813-7253