ArtNexus n. 102 | Sep – Nov | 2016

Sylvia Werneck

Miami, EUA, 2016
Art En Colombia


José Bechara/Galeria Marilia Razuk

Voadoras (Fliers,) a solo exhibition of works by Rio de Janeiro artist José Bechara, dialogs closely with the space of the Marília Razuk gallery, in São Paulo. The exhibition features nearly twenty previously unseen works, mostly paintings complemented with some examples of Bechara’s experiments with three-dimensional projection, an investigation that has intensified in recent years. Bechara’s exploration of painting is intended to inquire into the vocabulary of the language at hand: straight lines that reinforce their condition of intentional marks and a use of pigment (almost always pure and thickly applied, with no mixtures or nuances) that renders its materiality evident as a divider between fields. Also featured in this exhibition are several works in which solid color coexists with a shifting variety of ochres obtained through the process of metal oxidation imprinted on the truck tarpaulins that serve as supports. The orthogonality that dominates these works establishes a relationship of identity with the iron-beam frame of the space’s architecture, as if participating in the same process of construction; box, cube, and house are tightly connected elements in Bechara’s poetics. Behind it all, what is reaffirmed is the prevalence of human intellect upon the world, organizing it and giving it meaning.

“Everything here seems under construction, yet it is already in ruins,” protested Caetano Veloso about Brazil in Fora da Ordem (Out of Order), his 1991 song. Twenty-five years later, his protest still makes sense. Bechara’s work is situated in between those two instances: on the one hand, the drawing, the project, the construction of a shelter, the symbolism of the home, a place of repose and dominion; on the other, the deconstruction of painting, which is launched into space, and a surrender to the randomness that liberates the unpredictability of the oxidation stains. The rhythm of the lines, which respond to a calculated symmetrical spacing, sees its unending continuity broken by the oxidation process, testament to the inexorable passage of time imprinted on truck tarps that carry the memory of all the roads traveled.

After establishing himself thanks to a solid career as a painter, for several years now José Bechara has been extrapolating the two dimensional plane. In some of the works featured in Voadoras, he multiplies the pictorial plane in successive glass sheets with subtle insertions of lines and color fields that, on the whole, give greater solidity to the pigment and allow it, if not to “fly”, to at least be suspended beyond the wall. The materials chosen by the artist are those commonly used in home construction: glass, metal, wood. They are transformed into compositions after careful planning, a process that also involves consideration of the characteristics of the specific site where they are to be placed. But then, all that order encounters the fortuitousness of oxidation: the opposite of projecting, the reverse of control. Already in his series A Casa (The Home,) started in 2002, Bechara was playing with the inevitability of chaos, with furniture pieces “spat out” through doors and windows; in Elétrica voadora (Electric Flier, 2016), the reference to the home is more indirect. A marble disc imposes its weight on the lightness of the glass panels. The drawing in space occurs not only through the shapes of the solid materials, but also in the shadows of these contrasting elements, ultimately intensified by the light of the neon lamps. Other spaces are created in this interplay: the elements that give structure to the work, such as the steel cables attached to the ceiling, are all in plain view and integrated into the composition. The images of the surrounding area also come into play, reflected on the surface of the glass; now it is the world that is attracted into the work of art. In the same room in the gallery, Sobre amarelos (Over Yellows, 2014) operates more emphatically that same inclusion of the surrounding environment. The wall against which the installation is set up was painted in the same color as the cubes that float in front of it. Shadows are assumed as part of the work in both technical descriptions.

While the matrix for the development of his poetics is indebted to Constructivism, José Bechara goes beyond the boundaries of the universe of art and inserts the dynamics of life into his creative process, in a subtly evident way. The dichotomy between his Rio de Janeiro, his Brazil, and the issues of ordinary reality as a whole is there, in a ceaseless expansion of artistic possibilities and perspectives on how to be in today’s world. To judge by what we have experienced in social, political, and economic terms, not only in Brazil but across the entire world, our permanence on the planet tends to be like Bechara’s work: in sharp contrasts, precarious balances, and evident alternation between chaos and order, weight and lightness, shadow and light, planning and disarray. What will prove to be more solid, construction or ruin?