At the age of 40, the artist André Komatsu collects a series of important exhibitions in his curriculum, having participated in the Brazilian delegation at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and two Mercosur Biennials followed in 2009 and 2011. The artist divides a space with a friend in Belem, at the beginning of the East Zone. The 400m2 shed is basically used for ideas to take shape, ideas that pop up anywhere, whether in a hotel room or even during an exchange with the public.
Komatsu is a questioning artist, and he is not afraid of it. Its anti-system (or even plural) positioning is an important factor in its work from the outset: “We need to understand that the social structure has never been altered. Understand that what we live today, for example, this ultraliberal uprising, is a development of mercantilism, of the bourgeoisie, when they began to understand that the state could be a vehicle for accumulation of capital”, comments the artist.
He came from a group that did a lot of performance early in the career, between 1999 and 2000: “It used to be a lot more visceral than I was from a group that grew up at a time when the art market was not as big as it was now. it was a group of artists who had no money”, he says. Since then, he has worked with various modalities, from engraving to performance to installation: “At that time, you would turn around with anything, material I would pick up on the street, or perform because I did not have to spend money …”. Until he really started making a living from his creations, Komatsu worked as a private driver, teacher and bartender.
Voluntary servitude, labor relations, the systematization of actions, the objectification of the subject are some of the points that André works as an artist, posing as a thinker who investigates ethics, politics and society. He often uses reflections on architecture and civil construction to talk about it, for example in works such as the Perishable Reality series, in which he presents texts written on thin canvases made of concrete that simulate a type of curtain. So fragile that they are undoing over time and handling, disintegrating terms like “progress,” “the new world” and even the phrase “today as yesterday”, taken from a Nazi newspaper. The structural and the crumbling of the structure appear as analogies, since he admits: “I believe that things only change with the breaking of structures”.
Another series linked to words, more specifically to communication, recently shown in the individual exhibition Estrela Escura, in the Vermelho Gallery, Social Agreement shows newspapers collected from several countries whose “names establish a slogan”, independent of the editorial line: The World, the Republic, the Manifesto. Komatsu covers the newspaper with lead plates, leaving only the name visible: “I isolate the information, making a relation with the reflection of today, where the information is there but is veiled, which are the truths that end up directing the public.”
The discussions that the artist seeks to bring are closely linked to his theoretical basis. “I rarely read things about art”, he says, fearing that readings about art will reduce everything to a microcosm. : “I try to understand something else, and I use art for it”. For this, he focuses on authors such as Michel Foucault and Vilém Flusser.
André’s questions are summed up in a representation of reality, seeking to keep up with the issues of the contemporary and looking at the past as well. From references to the candangos that built Brasília to those that surround the recent water crisis in São Paulo, André is involved with a kind of preservation of History, after all: “When you erase history, you erase the understanding about reality”.