Gabriela Machado. Reynaldo Roels Jr. 1992

To regard painting (or drawing) from the point of view of gesture is something that has already been explored by art, since abstract expressionism and, before that, surrealism arrived on the scene. With these, at certain moments, the aleatory also made its appearance and represents a specific way of challenging the paradigms which preceed them. In the case of this exhibition, it is not a case of resuming the manoeuvre – which could result less in a resumption and more an emptying of history -, but of updating it within certain less evident principles, to rediscover a new order in a new whole.

Gabriela’s work begins with the gesture, marking the paper with a sudden and immediate trace. Not instinctive, but conscious in spite of being automatic. It does not end there, however: this is only the start of the process, with which we only need to partially engage. It is here that the work proper begins, where the picture simply performs the role of the raw material of thought. Hence, what is of interest are the serialized enfoldings which it elaborates.

An artist such as Milton Machado has shown that it is possible to deconstruct painting, not from within, from its constituent elements, but from a serial and combinatory principle beyond the original work (or rather, the initial work) and then incorporate it into the work as one of its primary elements. Like him, Gabriela has understood the possibility of remaking the work based on the principle of an “architecture” which is not to be found in the raw material, or in the initial painting (although it will depend on it to the extent to which the architecture offers a priori limited possibilities). Gabriela, however, has extended the architectural structure revealed by Milton to real architecture, that of the place where the spectator effectively experiences the work, with the result that the emphasis falls less on the former than the latter.

It is not necessary to insist that there is no intention of limiting the work to an existentialist situationism, where the work is valued soley for that which “gives life to the spectator”- ultimately, any work worthy of the name does this, with greater or lesser intensity -, but of incorporating within it an explicit sensual element, engaging with processes which do not necessarily, or only in an asystematic way, allow its explanation (it is important not to forget that there exists among all of us a neoconcrete tradition sustaining such an attitude). However, as is clear, we are not dealing here with a single work (an “installation”) but a group of works (an “exhibition”, in the traditional sense of the word).

What is offered to the spectator, thus, is a confluence of a series of postulates, all already present in the tradition of contemporary art (as such, historical), reorganized in such a way as to allow a reading where its pertinence is evidenced. So, between simply absolving a tradition, relevant as it may be, and giving it potential in the real, there is no doubt as to which attitude to adopt.

Reynaldo Roels

A critic and Professor of the History and Theory of Art, Reynaldo Roels was the director of the School of Visual Arts at Parque Lage, RJ. Between 1985 and 1990 he was the art critic of the Jornal do Brasil; coordinator of the Centre of Documents and Research of MAM, from 1990 to 1993, and curator of the Gilberto Chateaubriand collection for three years.