Scarlet. Afonso Luz. 2002.

It isn’t enough to say that the red we see is a colour. What is before us is like a living pigment, a chromatic act, a kind of blossoming of the red seen by our eyes. Here we intuit the mobility of this energetic pulse which expands like light, like a flame. Sensual and alive like fire or flowers. It is this vitality of a transitory body, of a body which is imperceptible in its duration, that feeds the pictures, the almost-paintings of Gabriela Machado.

It would be absurd not to view them in their singularity and classify them as another example of an art deriving from the American vogue for action-painting . Undoubtedly, a definitive moment in the formation of our contemporary sensibility. It happens that in these works of Gabriela’s the action is almost residual, lacking the power imparted by those brushstrokes. If we descry a dance of hands in the distrubution of the colour on the background, it is animated by the profound silence of the white paper that captures it. There is something of an original reserve in these gestures, a turning back on oneself, a refusal to expand arbitrarily over the whole space which remains.

It is this tense play established between colour and form, between the energy of a colour which seeks to extend itself and the containment of a gesture which resists its dissolution, which ignites the art of these works. In them we sense something of the pulse of our own lives.

Afonso Luz is an art critic. He worked as a researcher at the Univeristy of São Paulo and also at the Centro Universitário MariaAntônia. He has edited magazines such as Dicenso, Rapsódia and Número, and contributed to others including Novos Estudos CEBRAP, Bravo and CULT. He was a consultant for the UNESCO / Programa MONUMENTA for Economy of Art and Contemporary Culture. He currently runs the Culture and Reflection Program and is an adviser to the Ministry of Culture for the Visual Arts and Critical Culture headed by Gilberto Gil.