The place of painting in hundreds of images. David Barro. 2008

If anything differentiates between artists it is their way of looking. Many of them, although facing the most usual things, are capable of releasing a tense gaze, capable of going beyond simple formal appearance. Gabriela Machado belongs to that series of artists who do not hide the emotional element. A simple Mandarin orange rind can set off the decision to put the paint to work. And the rest, a product of the tension of the studio, is no more than the propagation of a painting capable of flowing forward on its own, without losing sight of that first gaze yet without allowing it to subdue the task of painting.

More than being formed, the final painting is revealed, something like that chance magic that led Meliés to discover the magic of the cinema; it allows itself to be taken by the very drift of that first gaze, like a turbulance that moves in search of its serendipity. Then a colour appears that requests another one, almost instinctively, until it forms a formal strucure that reminds us that everything started from that Mandarin orange rind, or from a flower, or from a roll of toilet paper that invades the space of the studio. Everything appears like a discovery, provoked and sought out, but capable of letting these image-shaped drifts form their own place: the place of painting.

Everything we notice takes place in the studio, although the gaze comes from outside. We should not tire of insisting on that idea: for a painter the tension happens above all in his own studio. The place of commitment: the time and, once again, the place of painting. All of the most well know photos os studios state this. Bacon’s, small, austere and ransacked in its disorder; Matisse’s, immaculate, almost virginal. In both cases the options appears to be the same: to pursue painting.

The atmosphere that characterises Gabriela Machado’s studio is projected into ther work. It is not difficult to recognise stimuli and signs of that universe in her painting, above all of hanging things that seem to float like her fields of colour on the canvas. Chromatic structures stand out from the backgroung thanks to a luminous studio that grants a certain calm to the act of painting. The particular light of a place like Rio de Janeiro, like the landscape of its mountains, also seems to expand behind her painting. For that reason in some cases the colour is more light than colour. Which is discovered later, curiously like on its own path, where after a domination of alizarin crimson a space is uncovered which contains all the colours, which responds to her current paintings. From the on, after a careful and slow preparation of those colours, she starts to paint; first on small canvases, like being careful over the size and not letting the tension get out; then on a larger scale, when the painting has been mixed and charged with impurities, with events.

For Gabriela machado the studio is the space of things, full of still-lifes and emptinesses that allow breathing, like perceptive fissures. Later on everything seems to fit into place; or rather everything seems to take its place. Like the ourse of a river or some natural accidente, capable of confronting the surroundings in order to construct the space of its poetics and make it appear that everything had been like this since a beginning, that everything was already there.

As in Gabriela’s paiting nothing manages to be a product a priori, the space marks out its own laws and acciddents. She herself accepts how that blind flight becomes the contemporany condition of her production, a production that does not allow any spatiality other than a propagation of ideas and acts.

Gabriela Machado’s gaze is curious, detailed. A gaze capable of being constructed. I Immediately think of Berger and of theses texts in which he describes the experience of looking when space and time come together. A curious one of his texts is about a meadow that stands out to him every time he comes back to his house from the centre of the city. For Berger, the pleasure he derives from deep observation of this meadow is a question of counterpoised contingencies.

The events that take place in it take on a special meaning because they happen during the two or three minutes that he is forced to wait at a level crossing that stops him moving forward when the barrier is down. “It is like those minutes filled up a zone of time that fits perfectly into the spatial zone of the meadow”¹, he tells us. Berger describes the moments in which we are immersed in experience, an experience that takes place out of time, like the relationship Gabriela Machado has with the forms of the objects. The experience of the painting does not only frame these objects, but also contains them. It is as if they were floating in the middle of the narrative time of real life. It is the experience of observing as the fruit of the tense gaze; the experience of the instant.

Alberto Tassinari correctly tells us about the existence of a centre that is not exactly the centre of the painting in Gabriela Machado’s paintings. The gaze would oscillate between both centres, in an intermediate zone, like the events in the centre of the meadow that hold Berger’s time and words. The gaze, now in the shape of a brush stroke, is disconcerted and explosed in order to once again be concentrated. In Tassinari’s words, “when a gesture is prolonged, it will gain expression, will draw out a destination, to”². It is the contained excess and the excess content of the expression. Because Gabriela Machado works from breaks in the form of approximation that do not allow one to see the totality of things; like a Sadian game of painted slides or a flirting with the impossible.

In Gabriela Machado’s works there is a need to hide (to dissimulate) and to discover at the same time. Such an impossibility leads us to the purest poetry. If I translate this into writing I think of how Blanchot cultivated the fragment of the real in order to make the poetic bloom, being capable of decomposing the order of the text like a game of sensual symbols able to veil concrete attributions or definitions; without certainties. It is language – paiting – as encounter and mis-encounter, as light and shade, as penetration into the unspeakable. And always from the paradoxical feeling of apparently constructing the same painting, the same emotion. The virtual abstraction emerges from the accumulation of obstacles, of obsessions. Because there is always something behind it, which is accumulated and which stands out, even in her paperworks with red brush strokes, where the colour oozes out from different intensities, as a product of someone forcing the gaze at the time of constructing the image.

The relationship that Gabriela Machado holds with paiting is thrilling. As if she crossed trough the mirror in order to live in a world dominated by objects; when the latter come to life. It is painting as drift, as taking place in the universe of the senses. Thus day to day life, living alongside the place of the painting will be, ends up being vital. The minimum opportunity can unleash a painting, like a vibrant still life. Once again, we come to excess from the cointained, from forms that are crossed with each other, colours, from gazes translated into stains, into aromas and tastes like those of that painting that Manet said he tasted.

We are talking about painting, bur we are also talking about drawing. Because Gabriela Machado’s painting is made from outlines, without ever losing that corporeal projection that is born out of a way of painting that is always intimate and pulsing, but also from an architectural making, from a spatial sense. Gabriela Machado admits that she literally projects herself into the space of the painting. The rest is no more than that above-mentioned turbulence that allows the painting to flow, being capable of wrapping itself in on itself, accumulating gestures and colours that are the stock of the final product. Thus appears that boundless density, unspeakable like poetry, disturbing and abysslike, as if it were something potentially the product of blindness. Thus in her painting it seems like the background and the figure have been lost; everything is now the same in these floating stains of colour. But behind it there is always that experience of drawing, of the line. The build-up of paint comes later, somewhat as if the painting were a game of Matryoshka dolls.

Gabriela Machado’s painting is a sort of ordered abstraction, capable of apprehending the movement of the real when seeking the pulsing of the painting. It is an event painting, which takes place before and during the act of painting. Everything comes to meet the paiting. Everything connects in that gesture of painting. “More than consuming the space, the gesture defines it. The absence is percerived through the presence. The abstract configuration advances trough the space like a brush; it moves in the emptiness, with the aim of creating, conceiving; to bring the drawing finally to life”³.

Containing the gesture, shaking the colour. The image is unfolded, twisting like a hedgehog trying to protect itself. The painting vibrates. It seems to float on the canvas. Meanwhile, Gabriela Machado goes on looking intensely around, seeking more objects, more colours, more matter and forms… Hundreds of images capable of uncovering the place of painting of us.

¹ John Berger. About Looking, Writers and Readers. Publishing Cooperative, Ltd., London.

² Alberto Tassinari, “Tinta ao Alvo”, 2006

³ Robert C. Morgan: “Passagens”, 2003

David Barro