Paulo Brighenti – Cascata
Anthropomorphism is perhaps one of the oldest artistic manifestations of mankind, immediately after cave paintings. We have the fables in literature and, although Paulo Brighenti doesn’t rely on this stylistic approach, his sculptures seem to be ready to tell stories of long-gone times.
Paulo Brighenti has a solid artistic career and he’s represented in several international collections. His work is particularly devoted to painting and, more recently, his focus has been geared towards sculpture and its relation with painting. The Gallery Belo-Galsterer displays both, in vegetal and anthropomorphic manifestations. The title of the exhibition, Cascata, is related to a strong and crystal-clear nature, perhaps even noisy. But the gallery presents a murky and mysterious nature, in which we can even discern this fondness for classicism.
The exhibition is self-contained and drenched in poetry. If we consider that anthropomorphism is also a poetic way of reflecting on nature, diminishing the distances between us and it (for those who believe that they aren’t an integral part of it), then Cascata is educational. In the different works exposed, Brighenti alternates between light and shadow with the same ability with which he operates volume changes, transposing it from painting to sculpture. The diffuse gallery lighting is in tune with the elegancy of the shade, referring to old and poorly lit spaces, as opposed to the present-day light flares that we are confronted with in any public place.
Árvore (2019), a series of small oil drawings, displays stark-naked trees in something that resembles a wintry and barren landscape. Although the trees appear fragile and brittle, the technique used, the encaustic, appears capable of showing great resistance to corrosion and the passage of time. In the background, the technique is part of the work’s poetry. It’s as if Brighenti wanted to reveal that fragile things still have, in themselves, the ability to withstand the test of time.
There are two other paintings on the same wall, Bacchus #1 and Bacchus #2 (2019), which use the same technique to represent Bacchus sticking his tongue out. Francis Bacon comes to mind while looking at those grotesque faces with their tongue sticking out, not as an insult, but as if they were showing us proof of healthiness or illness, in the vein of Eastern medicine. These paintings refer to sculptures Bacchus #3 and Bacchus #4 (2019), heads that look like fossilized skulls, from which come copper sheets emerge, similar to oracles ready to reveal ancient messages. These heads are made of cement, but look like stone, or are these cement sculptures like stones that, in turn, look like heads? Brighenti plays with the different works exhibited based on a two-way interpretation.
The self-titled work, Cascata (2019), is a large-sized painting with two canvases folded over a pole that appears to be made of tapestries. Tapeçaria (2016/19), exhibited in a different room, contrary to what its title may indicate, resembles, due to its pattern on yellow background, one of the Rorschach tests. They all have pattern-like motifs that repeat themselves in symmetry.
Apparently fragile paintings, made with materials that withstand the passage of time, sculptures that resemble natural stones but are actually built with cement, the least natural friendly material, paintings that look like tapestries. Nothing in Cascata is what it seems, in a game that forces us to reflect on what we are seeing.
The whole exhibition unfolds like this, in a dialogue between sculpture and painting, figurative art and abstraction, fragility and resistance, background and form, natural and constructed, in a dimension that is equally divided by nature and the cascade surrounded by caves and fossils, and also by cement, wax and copper, in an conceptual artistic effort.