About glass

Luiz Camillo Osorio
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015.
Texto for the exhibition “Jaguares”, at Paço Imperial – RJ, 2015-2016.


From the beginning of his career, José Bechara’s poetics have been marked by incorporating and transforming day-to-day materials with an artistic intervention of marked constructivist content. Bechara’s recent adoption of glass seems to introduce a few novelties. I would like to discuss them here. It is important to stress that there aren’t any breaks in his trajectory- there are constant overlays of processes, procedures, and materials. His introduction of glass changes the way his installations act in space and generate aesthetic experience. Yes, what I am describing here is the measure to which these works invest in the singular presence of the artistic event, and how much it unfolds in the interplay of sensations and suggestions. To talk about experience is to discuss a process of formalization – a process which takes place in the disjunction between what we see and what is seen.

Unlike the truck tarps, glass is timeless, its surface repeals the glue of historic density, nor does it suggest depth. To the contrary, our eyes run over it, cross through it, and enter into contact with what is outside. If Bechara’s adoption of tarpaulins expressed an interest in the “innards” of the material, glass is all transparency and externality. Apart from that, if tarps accumulate signs of and resist the passage of time, glass is always on the verge of breaking, or rupture, of ceasing to exist. With tarps, the interest lies in what remains of its previous use – the stains, tears, mends, discoloring, breaches – but with glass, interest focuses on what it shows outside it, a pure interplay with space and other incorporated elements.

Bechara’s turn towards installations in the early 2000s, came from the accretions generated by the tarp’s oxidation. Over time, they engendered a compositional thrust that projected itself onto space and incorporated architecture. It was not by accident that Bechara began to work with houses, furniture, tables, and architectural elements reduced to a geometry that expresses a tense balance between brutality and rapture. His specific reference to things of the world, recognizable objects from daily life, was gradually transformed into a play between empty and full shapes that in turn drew their own spaces.

It is from this graphic aggregating gesture that Bechara’s recent incursion into glass and installations emerge. Many elements from previous phases are re-appropriated and displaced. Like with his paintings and installations, one action creates geometry, while another upsets forms; there is a play between equilibrium and instability. However, there is also a sense of bodily fragmentation, as if the coldness of the glass and the geometric interferences in space would have forced Bechara to channel expressive energy through these suspended fragments. The sense of controlled noise that in the case of the tarps came from the accumulated density of the material is introduced here through a sum of heterogeneous fragments that combine through conflict rather than through harmonious fusion – a suspended head, a bundled mass of paper, a tube of light, a graphic or chromatic projection on the wall. All this comes together around the glass that is the aesthetic catalyst of Bechara’s installation.

To a certain degree, we could say that these installations with glass synthesize much of José Bechara’s poetic trajectory. The installations transmit a sense of expressive compression; an interplay between aspects fragile and brute, impersonal and dramatic. These elements were already present in the tarps and their geometry brought in by oxidation, but become unceremoniously explicit here. It seems to me that the dramatic aspect of Bechara’s installation comes from his introduction of light, which takes on a decisive role. Not only because it warms the glass, thus giving temperature to the installation, but also because it introduces a play of shadows and reflections. It is also here that the aesthetic experience I mentioned at the beginning gains tones of affect that were unknown in his previous works – an experience that is more speculative, more symbolist, charged with the subtext of the stage; sensations that ceaselessly suggest feelings and ideas.