“... but for sure there will still be those who, through the deaf immobility of these figures and colors, can realize the simple joy of looking and, strangely, be able to see.”
“In art, there's only one thing that matters: that which cannot be explained.”
It is with great honor that Galeria Mapa presents a sample of Loio-Pérsio Navarro Vieira de Magalhães's vast pictorial production for this edition of sp/arte. A pioneer of informalism in Brazil, Loio-Pérsio (1927-2004) begun his first experiences in abstraction in 1957 and from then on, kept firm and uncompromising in the elaboration of his artistic language: his body of work, comprehending paintings, drawings, preparatory studies, prints, poems and theoretical writing, constitutes an indisputable heritage for culture.
Born in Tapiratiba (São Paulo), near Minas Gerais' border, Loio-Pérsio lived his first years in Muzambinho (Minas Gerais), where he absorbed from his early days the literary environment of his father's house (a recognized poet and professor), as well as the crafts and popular culture of a country still to be industrialized. His family changes to Curitiba (Paraná) where Loio-Pérsio precociously debuts in the city's cultural scene, writing in newspapers, gathering with intellectuals, drawing and painting. Visiting the first São Paulo biennials, he gets to see European modern art in flesh, while in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo he furthers his learning of traditional painting techniques in local artists' studios. His first solo show is in 1947, then with 20 years old. With the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna's travel award, Loio-Pérsio moves to Europe in 1963, shortly before 1964's military coup. From his extensive resume of more than 40 exhibitions, among solos and group shows in Brazil and abroad, we mention here: his 1960's solo exhibition in MAM-RJ; the International Guggenheim Award in New York; São Paulo's 5th biennial, Venice's 30th biennial; Mexico 2nd Biennial (where he was awarded the gold medal); Paris 2nd biennial; Brasil Sempre, his last solo exhibition alive, held in Rio de Janeiro at Galeria Anna Maria Niemeyer and in the Museu Nacional de Belas Artes simultaneously; and posthumously, his participation in Europalia art festival in Brussels, Belgium. From the many public and private collections his work is part of, we highlight the Coleção Roberto Marinho, João Sattamini, Gilberto Chateaubriand, Israel Klabin, Marcío Espíndola, among others.
The selection of artworks here presented belong to what one can comprehend as his last “phase” (the longest , most coherent and authorial), where the esgrafitos, the color lines, the almost geometric aspects and the reminiscences of cubism predominate. We don't intend to describe or explain Loio-Pérsio's art: the experience brought forth by modern art is an irreducible, untranslatable one – the only thing that matters in art is that which cannot be explained. The harmony, serenity and even joy that his paintings trigger, listed here in writing as abstract nouns, subjects activating predicates in a sentence, falls short of the real experience lightened within us by the color and form of the experience painting. But we can ask what was Loio-Pérsio's undertaking exactly? Perhaps unsuspected for being very rooted in the artist, like a fruit keeps ripening and getting sweet, unaware of itself in the tree (and it's better like that), but still, let's ask what moved or propelled this modern and non-programatic undertaking; with no manifestos, a stubborn, crafty and coherent undertaking, his taste for work? I believe it's the undertaking common to all artists: to resist time, to imprint or embalm the memories of the origin, to defeat or reverse oblivion (or, at least, to try to) and in Loio-Pérsio's specific case, this undertaking relates to the feeling of affection towards the land, the amazement of seeing colors and forms for the first time; it is the artist's wish to revive, through translation, in the painting, distant and practically forgotten memories and sensations. That which we practically forgot is frequently of great importance. I think his undertaking also relates to poetry – his father's artistic vocation –, that is: how can one produce abstract art that is significant? Loio-Pérsio alludes to the vernacular, though with non-anecdotal means: lines, colors, stains; that was his “jeu gratuit” .
The play here, of the adjectives and nouns (even if done with effort and with the best intentions), could only fall short of the “subtle enigma”, the mystery of color and the committed pictorial “cuisine” behind this œuvre, open and free of affectation.