Galeria Nara Roesler presents “Fragmentos do Real (Atalhos),” a traveling exhibition of paintings by Fabio Miguez.
The exhibition at Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo follows its presentation at Figuredo Ferraz Institute, Ribeirão Preto, Brazil, from March to May 2018.
“Fragmentos do Real” presents Miguez’s Fragmentos, an ongoing series which the artist has been developing since 2011. The presented pieces isolate elements present in Miguez’s practice, which are at once unique and repeated in sub-series that present formal and chromatic variations.
Selected pieces dialogue with art history through the presentation of fragments of paintings by artists, including Piero della Francesca, Alfredo Volpi and Henri Matisse. The series also engages with architectural forms, such as houses, walls, pavements of stones and bricks. The display of the exhibition seeks a linear arrangement, fostering the encounter between works that employ varied colors, textures, forms, and movements, fomenting a relationship between figuration and abstraction. According to Rodrigo Moura, Fabio Miguez’s works “are less like idealized pictorial spaces than fragments of the real.”
The book “Fragmentos” is supported by Galeria Nara Roesler, edited by APC – Association for Contemporary Patronage.
fragments of real*
To start somewhere, first I should point out the unsettled nature I perceive in the paintings of Fábio Miguez over the past decade-and-a-half during which I have followed it from up close. It is as though the artist had slowly and consciously put in question several assumptions from his own practice, thereby taking it to realms which, if not alien, are unexpected to say the least.
In 2002, for the eponymous exhibition at São Paulo’s 10,20 x 3,60 gallery, Miguez led his painting (which had by then already taken on more geometrical contours) outside the canvas, with transparent glass planes and bits of shape-color in space. Viewers were able traverse the exhibition as if they were walking inside a painting, and the whites in the pictures had transformed into the space itself. This gesture had a few implications in the works that followed. On the one hand, the empty spaces in his paintings grew denser, the chromatic masses standing out more evidently and giving compositions a more diagrammatic character. Another (literal) development came in the form of an implosion of space, in briefcase-shaped 3D pieces (Valises), intricate, diminutive architectural complexes of reconfigurable vertical and horizontal sliding and folding planes that bounce off and complement each other. The addition of words as fields of autonomous information in these works also creates new intersemiotic reading possibilities, the text assuming an important role in the interaction of the parts.
In 2012, Miguez published the book Paisagem zero [Zero Landscape], a compilation of his photographic work that provides clues as to the diffuse connections between his paintings and the representation of the real. Created since the mid-1990s, these images are like an auxiliary field to his painting practice, starting off with systematically-taken pictures of the atmospheric effects of fog over the ocean, and waves breaking on rocks along the Ubatuba coast (Deriva I, Mar Virado, 1993-95), reminiscent of his more fluid paintings from that period and culminating with fragments of architecture from the venues he exhibited in and pictures of his own works in the studio (Deriva VII – Paisagem Zero, 2008-2012). Regarding those, Miguez writes: “in the end, all is landscape.”
In Atalhos (2011-ongoing), something akin to this “all is landscape” assertion takes place. This extensive series of small paintings, which at the time of writing this text exceeds 200 works, is a vibrant condensation of Miguez’ recent output. The small-sized paintings evince a near-daily painting practice liberated from the extended time requirements of the large-sized pictures the artist continues to produce. Here, he isolates certain elements of his work, creating small units of language that are unique to each painting – and then repeat themselves in subseries of formal and chromatic variations. These small pictures also feature some experimentation in relation to surface, displaying and recombining techniques mastered over the years.
If on the one hand it seems clear that the small paintings aren’t studies, they still sustain a direct connection with the large canvases. Oddly enough, this connection is not hierarchical, but complementary – a praise of the small format, where challenges come and go, short-lived, without the gravitas of expanded temporal processes.
Many of these paintings refer directly to art history; they slice up and echo parts of pictures by Piero della Francesca, Alfredo Volpi and Henri Matisse, not exactly as quotations, but rather as humored comments on their sources. Others hark back to pictorial situations found in vernacular architectural elements, like façades of houses (which in a way also reverberate the artists mentioned above), surfaces of grouted stone, brick walls. The articulation of those references is what enables a hybrid relationship between figuration and abstraction that’s unique to this body of work. However, the geometric abstraction canon appears here more as a cultural reference than a lineage to which the work is affiliated.
The linearly-arranged paintings form sentences where they meet, and as a group they convey a great sensory vocation in their varied use of colors, textures, forms and movements. The ideal way to look at them is within this big group, revisiting elements over time and experiencing the successive interruptions, like a long strip of film.
Bringing Miguez’s pictorial research to a different place, they present themselves less as idealized pictorial spaces than as fragments of the real.
*Text originally written for exhibition Fragmentos do Real (Atalhos), held from March 10 to May 26, 2018 at Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz (IFF), Ribeirão Preto, Brazil.