ZürichSérvulo Esmeraldo: Jouer avec le cercle
Curated by Ricardo Resende, Jouer avec le cercle exhibition reunites works produced between the 1950s and 1970s, the time in which the artist lived in France.
Sérvulo Esmeraldo (1929 – 2016) swayed among drawing, engraving and brush strokes, all with the same constructive geometric rigor. Born in the town of Crato, in Brazil’s northeastern state of Ceará, he lived in France for almost two decades, from 1957 to 1970, and not by chance, the work produced during this period is highly shaped by lyrical and gestural abstractionism that prevailed in Paris back then. A set of these works is exhibited at Jouer avec le cercle, which will be on display beginning January 10 at Kogan Amaro Gallery in Zurich.
“This exhibition sheds light on Sérvulo Esmeraldo’s rich and creative process, the coherence of a work that took him over six decades to develop,” explains Ricardo Resende, curator of the show and artistic director of the Gallery.
Sérvulo moved from figuration to lyrical abstractionism, to finally reach geometric abstractionism. Even in the rigidity of geometric shapes such as squares, rhombi, triangles, conical shapes and circles, the artist invites the audience into playful, light and fun experiences in ways of a game utilizing crayons, gouges, and acrylic shapes in curves and folds of an aerial line.
The title Jouer avec le cercle – in English “Playing with the Circle” – highlights the humorous feature of the artist and alludes to the graphic traces found in his work. These are drawings scrawled on paper, prints in which the artist molded his graphic research’s support, even sculptures which he experimented by means of three-dimensional formattings.
“Sérvulo’s works are essential when it comes to geometric art. The artist observes the constructive and functioning aspects of objects with a graphic thinking while ‘geometrizing’ and ‘encouraging’ form,” reflects the curator. “This is a delicate work in which we witness the refinement of shape, the delicacy of the stroke, the texture of the metal engraving lines, to finally reach the pure geometry of subtraction seen in two sculptures that make up the show,” he adds.
About the artist
Designer, sculptor, engraver, illustrator and painter, began his professional career in the late 1940s, attending the free workshop of The Cearense Society of Plastic Arts (SCAP) in Fortaleza. He moved to São Paulo in 1951. Performed temporary work at the Brazilian Engineering Company (EBE) which nurtured his interest in mathematics and resonated with his future as a sculptor of colossal works. An illustrator of São Paulo’s Post Office from 1953 to 1957, he devoted himself hard to woodcutting, works he exhibited individually at the Artist’s Clubinho, under artist Flávio de Carvalho’s guidance, and in 1957, at São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art. He exhibited a collection of prints of a constructive geometric nature which he believed to have been fundamental for French government’s granting him a scholarship that same year. Studied Lithography at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts and attended John Friedlaender’s workshop, working with Metal Engraving, technique that led him to develop a language of utmost interest, particularly in the so- called “Paris School. A stubborn researcher, early in the 1960 he took on magnet-driven and electromagnet-driven objects’ projects, since Mr. Esmeraldo no longer desired to be a 24/7 engraver, as he would later state in interviews. The arrival of the series “Les Excitables” placed him in a most significant place in the international kinetic scene, due to his original works that employed static electricity. In 1977 he started moving back to Ceará, as he liked to say, working on public art projects that included monumental sculptures in urban landscapes of Fortaleza, where he settled in the late 1970s. It houses today some forty works of his own. He was both creator and curator of the International Exhibition of Ephemeral Sculptures (Fortaleza, 1986 and 1991). With several exhibitions held and being involved in important halls, biennials and other collective exhibitions in Europe and the Americas (Realités Nouvelles, Salon de Mai, Paris Biennale, Milan Triennale, São Paulo International Biennial, among others), his work can be seen at important museums and in public and private collections in Brazil and abroad. In 2011, the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo organized an important retrospective of the artist’s work, followed by other no lesser important exhibitions. An honored artist of public support agencies CNI SESI SENAI’s 6th Edition of Marcantoniuo Vilaça’s Award for Plastic Arts in 2017-2018, his work was exhibited in five different Brazilian state capitals and the Federal District. In recognition of his great legacy, the State Government of Ceará passed a law in 2019, at his would-have-been 90th birthday, instituting 2019 as The Sérvulo Esmeraldo Cultural Year.
Courtesy of the artist and Kogan Amaro, Zürich