Ana Mas Projects (AMP) presents in Barcelona the first solo exhibition held in Spain by Brazilian artist Laercio Redondo (Pa- ranavai, 1967). The project, entitled Restauro (Restoration), develops a conceptual and aesthetic discourse that questions elements related to the (de)formation, construction and evolution of Brazil’s collective memory and identity, taking as a starting point the social, geographic, economic and politic changes experienced by the country in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The exhibition consists of two installations, Restauro, Desvíos and Lembrança de Brasilia. Both installation highlight paradoxes and idiosyncrasies that bring into question the official and supposedly undisputed status of Brazilian historical constructs. From his deniable artistic and intellectual commitment, Laercio Redondo revisits a collective memory (the official one) affected by social and political interests. His main aim is to raise debate around different issues such as slavery, nationalism, modernity and urban imaginaries1 .
The discourse, as usual in Laercio’s work, is developed in parallel with the display. Nothing is randomly placed, every artwork has its own place, from which acquires its value. The different artworks of this artistic quebra-cabeça in which the artist addres- ses his proposal are arranged in a space where the spectator is included as another element of the discourse. This way, taking Herbert Bayer’s contribution as a reference, Laercio Redondo establishes the bidirectional connection that gives meaning to his work.
This heterogeneous display is inspired by the early avant-garde movements, in which photography, film, design and architec- ture were interrelated. Laercio’s collaboration with experts from complementary disciplines is precisely one of the mainstays of his production. As the artist claims: “Colaborações têm desempenhado um papel importante no meu método de trabalho e tudo começou quando ficou clara a necessidade de aproximar disciplinas e campos que se relacionavam com a minha prá- tica.”2 In the case of the exhibition housed by AMP, it is necessary to emphasize the presence of one of his longest-standing collaborators, Birger Lipinksy, exhibition architect and furniture designer.
Laercio Redondo’s proposal recovers (restores) two prominent figures in the history of Brazil, architect and self-taught urbanist Lota Macedo Soares (Paris, 1910 – New York, 1967) in Desvíos, and artist Athos Bulcao (Rio de Janeiro, 1918 – 2008) in Lem- brança de Brasilia.
the first one, public and private, natural and urban are connected through the story of two constructions conceived 3 by Lota, Parque do Flamingo 4 (early 1950s) – “one of the largest-scale urban and social interventions in the geography of Rio de Janeiro 5” – and Casa Samambaia 6 (1951), where the artist lived with Elisabeth Bishop (Massachusetts, 1911 – Boston, 1979), the North American poet who was her partner for 15 years. Redondo’s video installation shows the 72-kilometres distance between both spaces. He brings back the story of this controversial artist, who was a key figure during the urban and cultural7 deve- lopment of Brazil- At the same time, the artist draws attention to some problematic issues that have (de)formed his country’s collective memory through the years.
In Lembrança de Brasilia, Redondo emulates the tile panels built by Bulcao8 in collaboration with workers, whose role in the construction process was crucial. Bulcao considers these artworks the “perfect combination of art, life and architecture”9. In dialogue with other works (silkscreens on plywood, natural plants and a video), the installation highlights matters related to so- cial class and cultural and aesthetic values. Then again, Brazilian landscape is presented as a reflection of some key elements of a collective memory that, in spite of being partially veiled, remains present, waiting to be discovered by unquiet and critical minds like Redondo’s.
This way, Restauro emphasizes the importance of recovering events and figures that contributed to shape history (whether Brazil’s or other’s) leaving a lasting imprint. This imprint, although ignored and undervalued, remains noticeable to the watchful eyes that still question hegemonic discourses. Because, in order to understand the present expressed by Bulcao and Lota, a time when problematic issues10 still persist, it is necessary to carry out a process of revision and updating, in conclusion, a process of restoration.
As an artist, Laercio Redondo has held several exhibitions: individually in Cuba, Germany, Brazil and United States, and also collectively in countries such as Hungary, Argentina and Sweden, where he has lived for many years. Some of his recent solo exhibitions include O que acaba todos os días, held at Museo de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ) between 2015 and 2016, and Past Projects for the Future, on display from the 18th of September 2016 at Dallas Contemporary. His work can be found in collections such as Andrea & José Olympio Pereira Collection, São Paulo, Brazil, Gilberto Chateaubriant Collection, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Museu de Arte Contemporânea da USP, São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Kunsthalle Göppingen, Germany.
- Jesús Fuenmayor, Displays flexíveis, pg. 98.
- Laercio Redondo’s words for Justine Ludwig, Em Conversa, pg. 109
- Lota was invited to participate in the construction of the park by Carlos Lacerda, who was then governor of the State of Guanavara. Over the years, Lota’s original idea and, consequently, the memory of her participation in the construction process have vanished
- In the 70s, the park was named Park Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes (Brazilian politician and military figure). The intervention of the park began in the 1950s. The project intended to cover an area of 1.2 million square metres destined for public use.
- Laercio Redondo. Text included in the video installation Desvíos.
6.Designed in 1951 by architect Sérgio Bernades, with whom Lota actively collaborated during the building works of her house.
7.Because urbanism is ultimately the reflection, the imprint of the culture where it is developed.
8.Brazilian painter, architec and sculptor that took part in the creation of urban designs that remain nowadays fully and harmoniously integrated with the Brazilian landscape.
9.Laercio Redondo. Exhibition at Casa França Brasil. 2013. Pg. 102.
10.The origin of the commented issues are as general as colonialism, social classes or gender inequality but also, there are some concrete, such as urbanization of new cities, respect for nature or the creation of spaces destined for the population to enjoy them (physically and aesthetically).