For his third solo show at Luciana Brito Galeria, Tiago Tebet presents a selection of seven paintings of varied dimensions and a sculpture, all from 2017.
The works have in common (which each other and with his earlier production) the motivation of establishing a dialog with popular culture, particularly that from the outskirts of São Paulo, and with architectural elements. Formally, they are unified by their creative process, which uses destruction and deconstruction as a constructive technique.
More than a research based on colors or themes, these paintings reveal the artist’s dedication to the performatic process of the painterly creation, which demands full abdication of any control held over the final result. The exhibition brings together works created following two essential procedures. The first set is produced through the preparation of the canvas with spackling paste, to which are added many layers of multicolored paint, which are subsequently sanded. The process can be repeated as many times as needed. Layers are added with the single intention of later being excavated, in a process that resembles a sort of present-time archeology, or the construction of a ruin.
The second group of paintings is made through the fixation, on the back of the canvas, of stones used for the construction and finishing of walls in the periphery. To the front of the canvas, Tebet adds oil paint of different shades of gray, which he later dilutes with thinner, revealing the relief of the stones fixated on the back of the piece. If, earlier on his trajectory, the artist illustrated or represented architectonic elements from the outskirts of Sao Paulo, now these essential references begin to integrate the body of the works, becoming materiality and leaving behind the domain of representation.
While destruction and deconstruction are used as a means for the creation of new paintings, they are not seen as critiques to art history or to the death of the genre; the artist is simply making use of techniques that are already established to reach a new point in his poetics. These procedures of destruction, widely accepted in the contemporary art system, are associated with popular construction methods (such as spackling, applying paint with spatulas and trowels, etc), creating an encounter between popular and erudite cultures – one that has always been present in Tebet’s work, formerly in the field of representation, now in the physicality and performativity of painting.
Beyond issues inherent to the painterly practice, by blurring the limits between scholarly and popular, and by observing the fluidity between counterculture and mainstream, Tebet shares of concerns that are pertinent to his time and generation, which he approaches through timeless strategies put in his own voice: humor as a critical form, and the revelation of that which is ignored through contaminations and hyperboles.