Latitude Art Fair Advisor Picks: Fernando Ticoulat

Latitude Art Fair
Sep 23, 2020 5:03pm
About Fernando:
Fernando Ticoulat, art curator, is partner and director of Art Consulting Tool, an art consultancy specialized in advising and project development. In 2019, he was co-editor and coordinator of the book “Workspaces of Latin American Artists,” and in 2020 he directed the book “20 in 2020: The Artists of the Next Decade - Latin America”.
The Power of Art: Selections from the Latitude Art Fair
I believe in the power of art. I believe in art as language, but one that is not limited to grammar and vocabulary, to letters and words. For an image can say more than a 1000 page book, we all know that. When we say that art can open up to new modes of life, that it may surge new possibilities for us to think on how we live together, this is not shallow rhetoric. It is about a specific point of view on what (good) art is and why it is still relevant today.
Here it gets close to the idea of philosophy. Both are intellectual and creative human activities that has been undertaken for thousands of years. But why are people still doing art (and philosophy) in the social-media-image-era of the XXI century? Under the current context of permanent crisis - sanitary, environmental, political, the list won’t stop - we can actually argue that art and philosophy were never more important than nowadays. These are the tools to think outside the box, they are fundamental to probe the still unimaginable if we really want to make a better world for the future generation. It is a shame we can’t also call science to action here too, but it has long capitulated to the obsessive vulgarity of productive surplus.
As curator and art adviser, most of the questions I get from people beyond the bubble gets down to: what is art? Is this art? Is this art or b*s? These are very fair questions, and my typical answer would be something as follows. "What we are talking about is art in general, but contemporary art in particular. The term contemporary is not a temporal marker. It does not mean, for instance, art that was made recently. It means much more. It requires from art (and artists) an engagement with the ontology of the present, that is, with the overlapping tectonic forces of social, political, economic and ethical values that shape up our existence and formats our living together. Artists, therefore, acts poetically and politically on the cracks among these forces, shedding light on their shadows and obliqueness in order to expand our cultural horizons."
It is not about grandiose gestures, but small displacements, deviances and glitches. Yes, sometimes art is monumental, but it can also be completely immaterial and nevertheless just as powerful. Art will not, alone, save the world, but it can help in nudging people towards the right direction. It defuses prejudices, unveils the real behind our illusions, surpass the mind to speak to the heart and soul. It’s about the micro-revolutions that will not be televised. This proposal might get somewhat cheesy, but truth is the Amazon is burning and there are no numbers or data that manage to sensibilize the Brazilian government to act upon this tragedy. I believe art can pierce the ignorance; I believe in the power of art.
The following is a selection of 6 artists from the Latitude Art Fair, hosted on Artsy, which I believe makes my case.
Daniel Jablonski is a visual artist and professor. He currently lives and works in São Paulo and teaches the ‘Modern and Contemporary Art History’ course at MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo. His multifaceted output combines theory and practice to investigate the construction of modern mythologies and discourses of everyday life.
His series Hy Brazil is an investigation about error, deception, delusion. In a set of five works, the artist takes as its object a ghost island called “Brazil” (or Hy Bressail, O’Brazil, Bracil, Bracir etc.) long before the discovery of America. Usually located close to the coast of Ireland, it was virtually present in all nautical maps, from 1325 to 1870, until it was finally discarded by modern cartography. In the meantime, the isle of Brazil has occupied a privileged place in the imagination of the Age of Exploration and beyond – in literature, scholasticism, mythology and even ufology – as a wonderful but unreachable place.
By drawing a cartography of deception, as the artists calls, Hy Brazil points beyond the simple homonymy with the South American country. For, when seen from afar, outside or above, Brazil does not seem to be anything more than this desert island waiting for a colonizer, this virgin significant waiting for a redemptive discourse. Its concrete existence – with its own history, geography and culture – does nothing to change its essentially ghostly status. After all, today as yesterday, no reality has ever prevented the wildest ghosts of desire and the unconscious from flourishing and proliferating here.
Tiago Sant’Ana lives and work in Salvador, an important city in the northeast of Brazil which was the first capital of the Portuguese slavery based colonial process. Since 2009 the artist develops his research in the field of performance and explores its multiple possibilities. More recently he has also turned to painting and to act as an independent curator, developing projects that discusses cultural identities and political activism.
The main concern of his work is the questioning of colonial processes and the representation of Afro-Brazilian identities. Sant’anna’s seminal series discusses the relationship between slavery and sugar cane, which appears repeatedly in other works as a synonym for colonisation and violence against black bodies. In his work, the white of the sugar is black, whether because of the Africans and Afro-Brazilians consumed in the sugar mills or the sinister processes and effects of the culture of this sweet, sophisticated and white powder. It is not the white of purity and perfection, but a means of oppression, strain, disregard and extermination of its opposite: black – the color and most of all, the people associated to it. Besides critically unveiling what was intended to be kept hidden, the artist draws upon practices of Afro-Brazilian religions and uses the color white as a purifying element, aiming at purging places and things of the evil embedded in them for centuries.
In 2020 the artist earned an arts fellowship from the Open Society Foundation, a philanthropic organisation created by George Soros. The USD80.000 prize is destined to artists, curators, cultural organisers and researchers working at the intersection of migration, public space and the arts. The artist will use the funds to further develop his research and produce a major exhibition next year. Thiago is the first Brazilian to have ever been chosen fro this fellowship.
Warley Desali is very well known in the visual arts scene in the city of Contagem (Minas Gerais, Brazil), his hometown. He was raised to awareness at a national level after participating in the group show "36th Panorama of Brazilian Art: Sertão” at the São Paulo’s Modern Art Museum. This is a bi-anual exhibition which traditionally surveys a new upcoming generation of Brazilian artists (think of the Whitney Biennial).
The 35-year-old artist works with multiple languages: painting, photography, performance and video. The artist says that in his daily life, the displacements made between the center and the gheto allow him to create new connections and to think about new forms of production. The waste of the city and the smallest memories can have artistic value, and the artist’s interaction with his surroundings while walking around the city becomes essential for his work, which feeds on the encounters between the material, the social and the current political moment in which we live, becoming those into something unique.
His work usually presents a criticism of the closed system of visual arts. An example is "Piolho Nababo", an “antique store”, or an anarchist gallery, with activities including a seasonal auction with works of initial bid at R $ 1.99. If no one made the first move, the job was instantly burned. Desali creates a dialogue with the streets, presents influences of the daily life of the periphery and discusses the less favored social strata. The figures portrayed in collages, drawings and paintings take on a raw and direct appearance, in which they usually remove original features from the basic image for the works. The idea is to subvert the artistic and social hierarchies. Desali has a degree in Fine Arts from the State University of Minas Gerais and was nominated for the PIPA award in 2017, 2018 and 2019, an important award for young Brazilian artists.
Hudinilson Jr. was one of the most important Brazilian artists of his generation, influencing the entire national artistic scene, not only through his personal work - produced between the 70s and 2000s - but also because of his active role as a catalysing personality of artist groups and experimental exhibitions. Photocopy - the technique that became his favorite over the years both for practical and conceptual reasons - began to interest Hudinilson between 1977 and 1978. During this period, the artist learned to operate the machine to its limit, exploring all possible graphic possibilities; he enlarged details, cut them, widened again, distorting the images of his body to the point where they became pure abstract texture and which came to be seen as important artistic landmarks of the period.. He said that this exercise meant loosing oneself to seeing, an “exercise of seeing myself”, as he would latter name many of his series. Beyond centering on self-representation, homoeroticism and the countercultural gesture, Hudinilson took interest in other media, such as stencil (whose use he learned from artist Alex Vallauri), mail art, performance, graffiti and urban intervention.
Rosana Paulino is a Brazilian visual artist, educator, and curator. Her main conceptual and aesthetic references are those concerning social, ethnic, and gender issues, focusing in particular on black women in Brazilian society and the various types of violence suffered by this population due to racism and the lasting legacy of slavery.
Last year, São Paulo’s Pinacoteca Museum presented the retrospective “Rosana Paulino: A Costura da Memória” (The Sewing of Memory), the artist’s largest solo show staged in a museum. The exhibition celebrated Paulino’s twenty-five-year career focused on shedding light on the long-oppressed role of Afro-Brazilian women through the aesthetic experience of her installations, engravings, drawings, sculptures and collages.
To criticise the layers of violence and oppression perpetrated against women of color, this resilient artist orchestrates ancient crafts traditionally associated with female work, such as handmade sutures sewn with coarse black thread stitched over eyes blinded by society’s cynicism, and mouths unable to scream out their painful realities. Paulino's work deconstruct images and, beyond that, their memory and mythologies. She brings together female figures and their respective historical elements, supported by psychic traces that map colonial structures and their impact on our time's social and aesthetic fabric.
Falves Silva is one of the precursor artists of the Poema/Processo movement, alongside names like Moacyr Cirne, Wlademir Dias Pino, and Neide Sá, participating in its inaugural manifesto in 1967. The movement lasted only five years but is regarded as one of the highlights of Brazilian art history. According to curator Tobi Maier, Poema/Processo differentiates radically from the more structured and text-based visual poetry of the concrete poets. Where they rigidly insisted on the use of typography alone, the new movement was based on semiotic research and moved away from mere verbal, chronological and alphabetically structured readings. In place of these it sought out processes and languages that might be considered more open-ended.
In 1981, the artist participated in the XVI São Paulo Biennial, curated by Walter Zanini. During the 80’s, he became associated with the international network of Postal Art, maintaining an intense and fruitful dialogue with artists of different generations and nationalities, including Hudinilson Jr. which we discussed above. The practice of Falves Silva can be thought of as a convergence of two of the main axes of Brazilian art: concrete movements and conceptual art. The artist dialogues with literature, cinema and comics; manipulating communicative structures and images from the history of art and mass communication, Falves Silva creates his work by diversifying the approach and treatment of the materials he chose.