Forgotten objects, memories found - Reynaldo Candia's searches

samba arte contemporânea
Jul 22, 2019 2:49PM

by Ana Dantas

Nublado, 2016, oil on wood.

Reynaldo Candia, visual artist born in São Paulo, Brazil, once quoted a passage from a poem by Ana Hatherly, a Portuguese poet and artist, who wrote: "Memory is a silence that awaits”. No wonder the verse was striking to him. These silent memories, waiting for the relationship with the other, are present in his creative processes, in its several phases and throughout diverse techniques.

Candia began his career in the early 2000s, creating works from old photographs. Inspired by surrealist artists, he did assembly using photography as an object, appropriating them and creating new meanings. In these early pieces, the artist was interested in breaking the bidimensionality of the medium, displacing the photographs from their original content and creating layers of meaning. Both at this stage and in the subsequent ones, the artist appropriates images and objects which contain memory, then works on them, revealing layers or creating new possible stories.

In 2015, during a riot in favor of public schools in São Paulo, Candia entered one of these schools and, as exploring the space, he found a practically abandoned library. The books he found there were in a state that seemed to lead to their ruin, and were similar to the production that the artist had been developing since 2011, in which he built books in plaster. In these works, the book was already its own ruin.

Tríade, 2016, plaster and acrylic.

In Candia's trajectory, books are recurring objects, being used as a support as well as to construct what the artist calls “livros esculturas” (book-sculptures). The research around books began with visits of the artist to second-hand bookstores, where he sought to find these forgotten objects. Candia was interested in working with old books, which carried stories themselves. "The books inhabited another house one day," says the artist. Story, therefore, are not only in the content of the book, but also in the trajectory traversed by this object. In that sense, Candia does not care about the "aura" of the book, not fearing to cut it, to paint it or to remove its cover.

The process of production of these works consists of successive circular cuts that begin with the cover and then go leaf-by-sheet the book, performing a kind of excavation, which is interrupted by an image, a word or something that draws the attention of the artist. Although it is a book, the excavation of Candia is not a search for information or knowledge, but a search for meaning. The search for something that refers to a memory. Once the excavation has ceased, that fragment of memory found or constructed is fixed and eternalized, insofar as the artist seals the books inside acrylic or wood boxes.

In Candia’s ouvre, there is a certain play between revealing and hiding. With the books inside acrylic boxes, for example, the observer who comes across the work is confronted with an ambiguous situation: if on the one hand the transparency of the acrylic allows him to see the book, on the other, the box is limiting its contact with the object - it prevents the book from being manipulated, explored. The ambiguity also occurs with the cuts made by the artist himself. These cuts reveal the contents of the book, but only part of it. Only certain parts that were selected by Candia. Once this memory is shaped, and the books are sealed, the spectator is forced to see only what the artist has determined. On the other hand, through these circular windows constructed by Candia, we also find a possibility of diving into the imagination, exploring associations between the elements evidenced - or inserted by the artist - that create an infinite channel of elaboration of stories and memories.

Fin de la princesse, 2013. Book (1950s), photography and cutouts.

The books in plaster are constructed by the artist from molds made with the books he uses in other works. Candia made five different molds, all containing a circular hole in the middle. The use of plaster, a brittle material, evokes a relationship between construction and destruction. This relationship highlights a peculiar characteristic of books: their intention of solidity, of being a physical object that gives body to the thought and that is wanted eternal, but that inevitably undoes over time. Thus, in constructing these sculptures, Candia does not use a material that counteracts this transitoriness - such as marble, for example - but chooses plaster, precisely reinforcing its subjection to the action of time. Like books and plaster, memory and thought are also fleeting, difficult to contain and eternalize. Construction and destruction are part of the natural process of life. They occur continuously and in a circular way.

Painting has never been outside Candia’s creating process, but in recent years it has become more evident. In his last compositions, the artist retake the canvas as a support, or paints on books, thinking the ink as matter. Having done in earlier works his "excavations" in books, the artist is now interested in painting on them, creating new layers of matter and - why not? - of memory.

Janela, 2016, oil on wood.

Both in his canvases and in paintings on books, Candia combines organic and geometric shapes, which he understands as similar. Horizons and clouds, frequent themes in previous works, are taken up again and now confronted with the forms of rulers, or architectural forms. In more recent paintings, Candia inserts architecture as a prominent element by reproducing the façades of houses he observed on a travel to northern Brazil. Once again the memory appears, in a new attempt to place itself as materiality.

The shape of the circle is a recurring element in Candia's ouvre, and not only do they, as other elements of his research return circularly in his works. So it is with memory, which, even when distant, is still present, silent, waiting to return or to be retake.

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