Prof. Dr. BeateReifenscheid
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2017.
Director, Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Germany, and Chair,ICOM Germany, Berlin.
Text written for the exhibition “Brute Flux”, from José Bechara at MAM-Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2017.
José Bechara is one of the most interesting artists within the Brazilian contemporary art scene. Initially, he started as a painter, with a radically reduced form of language that was – and still is – obligated to Concrete Art in the widest sense of the word. It is his deep sense and understanding of constructive structures that form the inner skeleton of his paintings, which modulate colors in a kind of floating, unlimited space. Based on square picture forms with strict line formations and grids, his paintings oscillate between the concreteness of forms and structures and the inconcreteness of space. Together, this seems like the moving of a pendulum between freely abstract brush strokes,color paint and geometrical forms, which themselves look like different layers within this space. However, it also becomes clear that his focus is always on penetrating the space and comprehending its dimensions in the perception. The concrete and non-concrete are based directly on the level of possible perspectives.
Some of the geometrical forms are exposed in Bechara’s sculptures, in his repeating square forms, which also play with the concept of serial structures. With their aleatory openness and movability, they offer all possibilities to be adjusted to the chosen spaces. This adjusting to any kind of space is a conceptual idea which directly addresses the viewer or collector, who are asked to “use” the sculpture for their own purposes. Whatever is changed by the viewer is part of the concept, which only circles around this idea of the space, which consists of multiple structure grids – visible and invisible.
Bechara’s new glass works are therefore a logical continuation of his previous work and are even more conceptual. Based as they are on the solid materiality of glass, they are both a factual element, and therefore a barrier within the continuum of space, and a seemingly invisible fact, which does not form any barrier between viewer and space. Thus, they are a contradiction in themselves which is only questioned by the various items that Bechara combines with the glass plates; e.g., a red grid, a silver-colored head (self portrait of the artist), or little colored, wrapped packages. Sometimes,several layers of glass plates form one geometric structure and an object at the same time, which makes the transparency not only visible but also reflects the solidity of the square forms. Within contemporary art, glass is a newly explored material, and famous artists such as Pierre Soulages, Gerhard Richter and Ai Weiwei have experimented with it. José Bechara’s glass works underline the conceptual perception of Brazilian Constructivism and transfer it into a contemporary approach.