São PauloAugusto de Campos: Poemas e Contrapoemas
Luciana Brito Galeria presents Augusto de Campos’ one man show, POEMAS E CONTRAPOEMAS [POEMS AND CONTRAPOEMS].
The exhibition presents a synthetic selection of his poetry in large dimensions, organized by plastic criteria and encompassing six decades of the artist’s production, including from seminal poems to hitherto unseen works produced during the last few years.
Poemas e Contrapoemas
Augusto de Campos’ first CONTRAPOEMS, works that incorporate implications of protest and contestation, were published in the 1960s in response to the change in the country’s national political context represented by the Military Coup of 1964. They make up part of the exhibition at Luciana Brito Galeria, which includes works like LUXO [LUXURY], from 1965, built over the kitsch typography of a luxury real estate advertising, as well as more recent poems, some of them hitherto unseen. Such is the case of the ready-made CLÁUSULA PÉTREA [STONE CLAUSE], which is “the mere transcription of a stone clause included in the Brazilian Constitution which prohibits anyone from being considered guilty, and therefore deprived of their freedom, before the final decision by a last instance court is taken, a norm that is currently not being respected”, says the poet.
Be them new or from an earlier date, such as SOL DE MAIAKÓVSKI [MAYAKOVSKY’S SUN] (1982/93), the CONTRAPOEMS are included in the show as a form of opposition to the current Brazilian context. “Brazil’s present juridical and political moment has deeply traumatized me. I believe that it is tragic for the country the immense regression that has happened since the impeachment of our elected president”, he explains.
The production of the exhibition was preceded by an intense materials research, since all the poems are now presented in new finalization, including expanded formats and media, diverse from the ones from previous exhibitions. In this sense, the biggest highlight is the work LUXO, that is now for the first time exhibited in a mold considered by Augusto in the 1960s, which could not have been possible to realize then. Covering an arch of more than half a century, the show traverses several moments of his poetical evolution, emphasizing the plastic arts. It is a synthetic record of high material quality that intends to be faithful to the poet’s ideals, expressed by aphorisms by two of his favorite artists: Anton Webern: “non multa sed multum”; Emily Dickinson: “Few, yet enough.”
In the 1950s, Augusto de Campos created, alongside his brother Haroldo de Campos (1929 – 2003) and his friend Décio Pignatari (1927 – 2012), Brazilian concrete poetry, an artistic project that aimed to revitalize and update poetical language, with an emphasis on invention and experimentalism, through transdisciplinary criteria, taking on technologic perspectives that would be amplified by the end of the 20th century, within the digital field, continuing to significantly inflect the art of our days.
These criteria were stipulated in manifests published by them in 1956 and summarized by the trio in 1958, on the Plano-piloto para a poesia concreta [Pilot plan for concrete poetry], published on the magazine Noigandres nº 4, also founded by them: “assuming that the historical cycle of verse (as formal-rhythmical unit) is closed, concrete poetry begins by being aware of graphic space as structural agent, qualified space”. More than just graphic, it is about a “verbivocovisual” work, that is, a poetry that works all material levels of the word and isn’t a mere vehicle for something abstract and disembodied.
At the time, concrete poetry walked side by side with its counterpart movement in visual arts, led by Waldemar Cordeiro and Grupo Ruptura. Works by Augusto de Campos were presented in the National Exhibition of Concrete Art, realized at MAM SP on 1956, when the movement thrived.
As a contextual reaction to the grave changes experienced by the country with the Coup of 1964, his work let go of the orthodoxy that marked the first phase of the concrete movement. There was an addendum to the Pilote plan (“without revolutionary form there is no revolutionary art”, a quote from Mayakovsky), and the poets began to realize more politically engaged works.
It was then that Augusto and Waldemar Cordeiro presented, in December of that same year, their popcretes, when the rigor of the Bauhausian typology gave space to typography from newspapers and magazines; pop and kitsch elements first appeared on the work of the poet; and Augusto created his first ready-made poems. On one of those, a dissatisfied visitor wrote the word “lixo” (garbage), which inspired the poem created by Augusto one year later, LUXO.
Since then, as is attested by the exhibition at Luciana Brito Galeria, his production has been true to the initial desire of creating a poetry fit to its time. Augusto de Campos, an octogenarian artist that has been producing a prolific body of work for the past seven decades, remains to this day one of the most contemporary author of present Brazil.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)