“... but for sure there will still be those who, through the deaf immobility of these figures and color, 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 show. 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.
Loio-Pérsio was known by his radical stances. he coined a theory about the forgetfulness suffered by so many talents of his generation. According to him, the marginalization of his painting would have been an effect of the so-called economic miracle. In nearly 60 years of his career, Loio's response to the media and criticism of the press was to act as a tireless documentary-theoretician of his creative process. He left to the new generations valuable testimonies about the art of his time, and the effort was not in vain. Contrary to the figurative representation of reality and to the "mathematical formulation" of geometric abstraction, he defended the spontaneity of gesture and freedom of expression, a position that placed him among the greatest exponents of informal abstractionism.
The two abstractionist strands produced the great debate of the time, but the one who led the best was concretism and neoconcretism. The Brazil of 1950 was animated by the belief of industrialization and therefore needs common and clear repertoires. It had a constructive optimism. The subjectivity of abstract expressionism has value in the United States because there the house was already set up and the history of art still has to be done. Aware of the mismatch, some recent exhibits have been attempting to rectify historical absences and rediscover artists such as Loio-Pérsio who needs a complete ransom. He was always an artist of investigation of the matter and was not victim of the decadence.
Paula Alzugaray, Isto é, 02/02/2005
A man of vast experience and culture, with undeniable humanist militancy, he knows what he means. It was no wonder that in the 1960s, he was the first young artist to exhibit in MAM-RJ, breaking with the vicious circle of only presenting sacred monsters and the myth of a geometric and aseptic Brazilian art, more for snow than to jungle or backwoods. It was born an aesthetic, 'informal' for some and 'tachista' for the French. For contemporary Brazilian art, it was a break with both figurative and abstractist academicism, particularly that of geometric content. And that was how it came of age, ending with the pseudo-rationalism of the technological inventions of the industrial revolution.
Faced with the long, creative and profitable career of Loio-Pérsio, it remains to be added that he no longer has to prove anything to anyone. His trait and his color, which is what matters in the end and is essential in art, have attained perfection, self-sufficiency and vigilant maturity, which every master craves, displaying a stillness and placidity rarely seen.
Here are two more opinions of those who understand life and art:
"... From the beginning, in the mid-1940s, Loio-Pérsio's work ranged from painting of nature to the nature of painting .... Affirming painting not as a representation of the world but as an instance
through which one can think of it, abandoned the treatment of the elements that constitute it in the manner of mere predicates of visible things: the line as contour; color as an attribute of this or that object; the quadrangular field of the screen as a place where another space is simulated. In a word, he stopped treating them as adjectives to treat them as nouns. Thus, contrary to what makes us believe the disclosure of his name almost only within the narrow circle of art specialists, ... Loio-Pérsio is one of our greatest artists. "- Agnaldo Farias," From Painting Nature to Nature of the Painting ", Book" The Art of Loio-Pérsio ", Museum of Art of Paraná, Curitiba, 1999.
"For his position of moral, intellectual and political independence, and for his condition as a forerunner, Loio-Persian always presented unusual results in his office .... The beginning of this experience, at the end of the 1950s, the only way possible, conscious and methodical work founded on the tradition of Brazilian art. Having overcome the discourses and conflicts between imitative and abstract, concrete and informal, organic and geometric, what remains is the quality of his work, the expression of an unquestionable talent.The authenticity of his work expresses to each new exhibition a surprising current character. Loio-Pérsio is today, in full activity, a classic of contemporary Brazilian painting.