ARTE!Brasileiros – What is the history of Unifor Plástico? How does it work, how is the selection of artists performed?
Denise Mattar – The 1st Plastic Unifor opened its doors in 1973, the year the University of Fortaleza was created, showing the vocation of the Edson Queiroz Foundation and its proximity to the regional and national arts and culture. From its inception, it worked through a public notice and the works were chosen by a notorious commission in the arts field. From 2013, a more curatorial model was adopted and started to operate every two years as the Unifor.
The first two exhibitions were curated by art critic and curator Ivo Mesquita. He did, in one of the exhibitions, a tribute to Sérvulo Esmeraldo, called A Constellation for Sérvulo Esmeraldo.
When I thought about the current exhibition, focusing on a cast of Ceará artists, I was careful to select a significant number of artists, but allowing an unpolluted show. With the help of Cecilia Dedê, and together with conversations with Bitu Cassundé, from the Dragão do Mar cultural center, which has a wide knowledge of Ceará’s history, I looked at almost 100 portfolios and ended up editing approximately 25 artists.
Do you feel that the contact with these artists brought you a differential?
I have noticed for many years in the North and Northeast production. In 2012, I went to Belém and met Emmanuel Nassar, born in Capanema, Pará, with a work that impressed me deeply. In fact, being out of the Rio-São Paulo axis, artists from the North and Northeast are harmed. I knew his sparse works and not the whole work. For the first time I made an important exhibit of him at the CCBB of Rio and Brasilia and I’m sure that contributed to his visibility. I saw several exhibitions by curator Paulo Herkenhoff who, in my opinion, was of great importance to make this understanding of Brazil as a whole, donated much of his time to know these new production centers.
What caught your attention most when looking at this set?
On this occasion, what caught my attention was the repeated use of the word. I saw in the works presented a common thread: the word.
Used sporadically throughout history in paintings and tapestries, the word was incorporated into the fine arts more steadily in the early 20th century, from the modernist avant-garde. Marcel Duchamp was deep in this idea and used the term “differentiated simultaneities” to define the articulation between the verbal and visual fields. One of the artists best known for this imbrication is Leonilson, whose work belongs to this ethos. This idea gave the name to the exhibition: Simultaneity – the art with the word.
Can we name some of its main features?
Some are more conceptual and others more visceral.
Francisco de Almeida has a special room. His work as a woodcutter is highly regarded. Son of a goldsmith father, embroidering mother and grandson of a lace-up grandmother, he grew up in an environment that founded his imaginary universe. Allegories, religion, a fantastic world, built by sometimes real figures: the beatos, the sertanejo man and the caatinga; sometimes for figures from the religious or magical world, such as saints and angels.
Attended university, participated in exhibitions in Fortaleza, traveled a lot, participated in the Panorama of Brazilian Art of MAM, in São Paulo, in 2005; the Valencia Biennial in 2007 and the VII Mercosur Biennial in Porto Alegre in 2009. In the words of the critic Pedro Costa: “The deal with mothers; its endless effects of engraving, inking and printing; its permanent reuse and arrangements will make Francisco de Almeida a researcher-craftsman, a recorder par excellence”.
But I would like to highlight several of the artists I chose who were the result of this dive. Henrique Viudez, a young artist, with a work of this kind that I call “more visceral”, works with painting, truck canvas and its interferences. It is more figurative and broadens research on beliefs, myths and religiosity. It also works gender issues and binary conventions male, female, with great quality of execution. It has a more allegorical work.
On the other hand, there is a very young artist, Iago Barreto, who works with the Tapebas Indians, a native indigenous society gathered in the village of Nossa Senhora dos Prazeres de Caucaia, and which originated the municipality of the same name, in the city of Fortaleza. He is fully involved in this truly dedicated culture. He lives with the community, and in an authentic, non-marketer way as some artists end up adopting. He uses the language of the body work of the Indians at the intersection with photography, brings the Indian to the present, in his own space, but attentive to contemporary issues.
Then you have an artist like Rian Fontenele, more consolidated, with a larger work, and who, however, does not have the visibility that, in my opinion, should have.
Therefore, I also tried to show works of various aspects. Haroldo Saboia, for example, made a video showing cities in the interior of Ceará whose names are Desert, Pleasures, Mirages and Passages.
Diego de Santos presents burned shells, small sculptures, bringing the idea of real estate speculation, where the advance burns the houses and the residents leave their “shell houses” leaving everything behind.
Bia de Paula too, with Every son is a motherfucker. When he began his work, he wanted to do something about his parents’ absence from home, but as he interviewed the women, he realized that this was not an issue for them. On the other hand, he found another, much richer story, the potency of these women, who had left it behind and faced life with their own strength. It has wonderful photos and testimonials.
I liked a lot of people. The Virginia Pinho that did the work on Maracanaú, where there was that necrosario who was later extinct, but who lived still there. People have bonded with that region and do not leave that place, which was a prison for them.
All the works were already existing, there was no commissioned work. Just Nivardo Victoriano, who had a smaller photo production, and then we made a suggestion to enlarge the photos. He works with pain.
What strikes me is that the production of Ceará is very poetic. All works have a concern to question the problems, the environment, the status quo, but with an unexpected poetic footprint for me. They have stories, twine, embroidery.
When I showed the works, they commented to me: “Wow, how it looks like Leonilson”. And I said, “No. It’s just that Leonilson belongs to this place”.