In Fausto, Ester Grinspum (Recife, 1955) continues a reflection begun in 2013 on Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. The book is an adaptation of Goethe’s great tragic poem (which was also a focus of the artist’s research), in which Mann narrates the Faustian bargain that composer Adrian Leverkühn makes in order to create a masterpiece. It was from this context that Grinspum drew her inspiration to produce eight new pencil drawings and five objects in iron translating the singular flow between planar surfaces and three-dimensionality that is manifestly present in the work of this artist.
According to Grinspum, the works represent objects found in Leverkühn’s study, or otherwise found in an artist’s studio, since the idea is to bring the myth to bear on the uncertainties consuming contemporary artists. What Grinspum finds interesting in the book are the issues of modern man seeking to give meaning to his life, or, transposing the matter to her own setting, how artists should look upon the contemporary world and try to comprehend it. “The answer might simply be in endless questioning, in constant movement,” says the artist.
In “the book of the book,” a publication on the artist issued by Cosac Naify in 2015, critic Cauê Alves discusses the freight of idealizations, concepts and thoughts pervading Grinspum’s artistic production. As Alves observes, “Light, as it emerges in her work, also has a philosophical meaning. It is the metaphor for reason, just as in its illuminist origin, as well as the free exercise of human abilities to make the world a better place, while at the same time, it is an element free of any utopia or function, an object of the artist’s poetics integrated into the composition of each work.” At another point, the critic concludes, “We think about emptiness because Ester Grinspum calls our attention to absence, to the philosophical meaning of nothing, and shows us the difficulty of demarcating it. More than a spatial orientation, her drawings reveal to us the movement of time.”
About the Artist
Ester Grinspum (Recife, Pernambuco – 1955- ) ranks among the names of Brazilian contemporary art that emerged in the 1980’s. "As for her sculpture, by the end of the ‘80’s, it looks as though her drawings had escaped from paper to take over the world,” notes curator Paulo Herkenhoff, in 1991. Draftswoman, sculptor, printmaker, painter and illustrator, she studied with Luiz Paulo Baravelli (1942- ) and Marcello Nitsche (1942- ) at the Institute of Art and Decoration (IADE - Instituto de Arte e Decoração). At the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of São Paulo (FAU/USP), from 1973 to 1977, she had classes with the artists Renina Katz (1926- ), Flávio Império (1935-1985), Claudio Tozzi (1944- ), Flávio Motta (1916- ), and with critics Aracy Amaral (1930- ) and Luiz Carlos Daher. In 1981, she held her first individual exhibit with drawings and watercolors at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
At the beginning of the 1980’s, she took part in the legendary exhibit, Como vai você, Geração 80? (‘How are you doing, 80’s Generation?’) at the School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, considered a milestone in the emergence of a new generation of contemporary art. In the ensuing years, she took part in group shows in New York, California, Connecticut and Idaho, as well as her first biennial exhibits in Havana. After taking part in the 1987 MAM Panorama, she produced her first sculpture comprising the installation O Duplo e o Tempo (‘The Double and Time’), exhibited in 1989 at the 20th International Bienal de São Paulo.
In the 1990’s, among other honors, she received a research fellowship for artists from the Helena Segy Foundation, at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris; a European Ceramic Work Centre Fellowship at s'Hertogenbosch, Netherlands; and a Residency Fellowship at the Cité des Arts, Paris, during which she put on individual exhibits and took part in group shows at a number of locations in France. Highlights of the past decade include the show Ester Grinspum – Uma Antologia (‘Ester Grinspum – An Anthology’), at the Pinacoteca, curated by art historian Tadeu Chiarelli in 2004, and the Panorama dos Panoramas (‘Panorama of Panoramas’) in 2008. In 2010, she brought out the Livro do Pleno (‘Book of Fullness’), first volume in the Livro de Artista (‘Book of the Artist’) collection published by Editora Cidade, with an introduction by Lorenzo Mammi. In 2011, she held an exhibit of new works entitled Armas e Delicadezas (‘Weapons and Delicacies,” at Galeria Transversal, with wall reliefs and sculptures in iron and drawings – all freshly created. These latest efforts comprise a compelling extension of the work that Ester Grinspum has been producing in recent years.