*By Wagner Barja
Quite timely was the quotation made in reference to Lúcio Fontana and Nelson Leirner in Cauê Alves’ text that addresses Geraldo Zamproni’s work. An individual who is mindful of the issues of his time and observes the ruptures brought about by his predecessors must be perceived as a language constructor. Therefore, such an artist must walk in the footsteps and follow the trail of those who preceded him, only then to tread his own path. Among many others, Fontana and Leirner left visible marks to follow.
With a simple slash on the surface, in a revolutionary gesture of synthesis, Lucio Fontana inaugurated a broader field of possibilities for a new aesthetics focused on investigating the other side of flat painting with concrete characteristics. This is a bidimensional style of painting in pursuit of the remote Renaissance depth of field contemporarily transposed to the unsteady terrain of environmental art ensconced in a space beyond the artwork, which provides the art object with an undeniable capability of being present in the world.
Nelson Leirner, recognizing the intensity and importance of the innovation introduced by that slash on the canvas, contributed to reaffirm these concepts with his own particular irony and humor in a Pop development of Fontana. Making clear reference to the original slash, Leirner added to Fontana’s aesthetic creation an opportune zipper, which interactively opens up to allow the eye to transcend the frontiers of the pictorial surface.
The aforementioned iteration is also convenient for Geraldo Zamproni’s work, which revisits this paradigm shift that is so prized by subsequent generations of artists in the recent history of painting.
Through the direct incorporation of the external world into the art object, Zamproni’s proposal centers on zipping canonical surfaces, which open and close by means of the interactive manipulation of the work and its externalities, elements that are not comprised of the art object itself, but of its inaccurate surroundings.
Interventions that dissect the essence of the earth with the scalpel of sight and with the practical and instantaneous nature of ideas and contemporary materials. Propositions that quite significantly and symbolically encompass this world’s surface and underground environments.
In spite of addressing architecture and landscapes, Zamproni’s interventions do not revolve around the representative universe. The artist searches for the unknown, the core of the elements he utilizes to transcend simple appearances, to transform the original functions of those elements into singular counterpoints that produce strangeness precisely in the details that are not perceivable to the eye, in the landscape and in the architecture. Therefore, the unimaginable becomes an elementary concept in his creative endeavors.
The subjective component is broadly manifested to highlight and make feasible, with the language of present-day art, the concept of unlikelihood. This notion is of the utmost importance because it involves the surroundings, the element that is not revealed in the scope of more traditional art, which is obviously upheld by non-prospective and representative and linear works. That being the case, the “B” side of an artistic proposition extends itself ad infinitum and gives way to other spacial possibilities, such as in Fontana and Leirner, who put forward a multidimensional spaciality that differentiates itself owing to the fact that it transcends the customary reality.
These approaches do not attempt to unveil the enigmas of the universe, but to expose them to the new and the impenetrable with the intent of connecting the created object to its surroundings, to the exterior elements that encircle it. Thus, philosophy is to come into play in order to perceive what one cannot visualize. A borderline language that connects the issues that find themselves on the boundaries, on the dividing lines, and then pours into the complex interior of the contemporary art work.
There is a tense relationship between strength and weakness that causes an intentional unbalance in Zamproni’s current proposition for the FUNARTE Marquee Project (Projeto Marquise FUNARTE). The diaphanous and Dyonisian inflatable material that curiously seems to support the entire structure of the construction, rather contrastingly, creates a metaphor with the Apollinean weight of the concrete marquee that connects the Funarte Cultural Center, located in the architectural complex created by Oscar Niemeyer, in Brasília.
The artist made the fortunate choice of placing his “inflatable elements” in a building designed by one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century. It is also interesting to highlight that the audacious poetic visions that single out Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture are, when compared to Zamproni’s propositions, coincidentally based on a very similar concept: make what seems impossible, possible. It is worthy of notice that Niemeyer’s bold conceptions, the huge free-spanning reinforced concrete structures made feasible as a result of structural calculations, become striking contrasts, a juxtaposition of extreme lightness and overwhelming weight. In parallel, both the artist and the architect establish a utopian aesthetics of the unlikely.
As for the “inflatable elements”, large red cushions that are a part of the surreal proposal of having light air-filled items apparently supporting a massive concrete slab over 320 linear feet long over several columns, there is a clear intent of making it appear as if such an endeavor is physically impossible, incompatible with reality. It is an ironic and contradictory intervention given the weight of the construction.
A design with such antagonistic elements generates discomfort because of the unusual sense of humor that unbalances the placid urban landscape. At first, the result obtained from the repetition of the images establishes a certain rhythm, in spite of the intense nonsense feeling caused by the sight of incompatible materials, and creates an element of surprise derived from the use of lighter elements to support the heavy ones.
Consequently, the artist fulfills the complex role of overcoming the massive and monumental modernist-city scale by directly intervening in and interacting with the work designed by an acclaimed icon of international architecture. Therefore, such an undertaking temporarily transforms the daily existence of this city into something extracted from the unlikely universe of art.
• Wagner Barja is a visual artist – Title of Notorious Knowledge in Visual Arts, Theory and History of Art, and Art Education – Director of the National Museum of the Cultural Center of the Republic in Brasilia.