Held at Galeria Nara Roesler's Rio de Janeiro affiliate, this exhibition opens yet another key front in understanding the visual thoughts of the consecrated Brazilian artist by introducing a new study conducted by curator Paulo Miyada. Focusing on material stored by Tomie in her studio-home, Miyada found notebooks of studies that were virtually unknown, even in the art circuit, containing small collages that reveal how the artist's pictorial experimentations began. By displaying these notebooks, the exhibition – which now features a new configuration of works in Rio after a run at the gallery's space in São Paulo in 2017 – builds a bridge between the studies, 13 paintings and a handful of engravings spanning from the 1960s to the '80s.
The delicate studies were created through a singular procedure: the ripping, cutting and pasting clipping of ordinary papers of everyday use, like magazines, invitations, newspapers, brochures, etc. “By paying attention to the nature of Tomie Ohtake's procedure here we are granted access to the connections her painting has with chance, gesture and chromatic boldness,” notes the curator.
Miyada points out that miniature studies are a consistent and recurring resource employed in the artist's work up until the 1980s. “The found compositions served as the guidelines for paintings and engravings that experimented with different sizes and chromatic combinations. It is as if the drawing board with clippings of paper were a mining zone for shapes and color combinations,” he adds.
For her compositions in the 1960s, Tomie ripped pieces of paper to create the genesis of her paintings. “The figures, in this case, resemble simple geometric shapes, though with fuzzy contours; they hold the memory of having been ripped with the fingertips,” the curator emphasizes. Then in the 1970s, when her paintings began to employ shapes with more defined contours, the studies also transformed, being that the artist went on to utilize scissors – never ruler and razor – to cut the paper. “It was a way to address the instantaneousness of gesture and impregnate the entire painting process with this balance between happenstance and control.”
Furthermore, according to the curator, the textures of the paintings, surprisingly, are often times born out of the collage itself, appropriated from a variety of photographic materials. “The chromatic palette also expands, mirroring the chromaticism of an era that flirted with psychedelia,” he concludes.