Henrique Faria Fine Art is pleased to present In This Place, Elizabeth Jobim’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. The exhibition brings together a series of installations comprised of painting and sculpture that will be arranged as inspired by the wall and floor space in the gallery’s front room. However, upon entering the space the distinction between painting and sculpture becomes blurred as the viewer encounters an intricate grouping of color, geometry and three-dimensional form sharing the very same space. As the exhibition title In This Place suggests, the works exude a physicality that is meant to draw the viewer in and make him/her aware not only of the presence of the works themselves but also to how this presence activates both spatial and historical dimensions. As Jobim is quoted in the beginning of Juan Ledezma’s exhibition text, “The square is no longer an approximation to nothingness. Now the square has a history of its own.” Rather than eschewing the art historical legacies of modernist Brazil, Jobim has cultivated them and reinvigorated them, and infuses her works with their resonance.
As Ledezma begins his essay, he puts forward the idea of Jobim’s work exhibiting the visual concept of disjunction. As a disjunction designates the relationship between distinct alternatives, Jobim invokes this concept in each step from production to presentation: through the juxtaposition of different media, including cement, oil paint, rock, wood and acrylic; through her handling of the media with sharp cuts, long silhouettes, reflective surfaces; but also through the objects’ arrangement in space. In these choices the artist is able to elude the predictable and create an ever shifting map, a decentralized, “sprawling network of connections that viewers can chart in ever renewable fashions, depending on how they choose to distribute their inspecting gaze.” As in Minimalism, the viewer’s gaze and presence are also essential here as a means to understanding the work, but arrive at a different conclusion: rather than achieving a sense of unity, none of the various parts fit together.
These breaks in the visual circuitry are two-fold. By calling attention to the unoccupied space between forms, this negative space becomes charged with the tension of conflicting geometries, opposing colors and overlapping contours. But it also harkens back to a particular era in Brazilian modern art: to the dynamism of Willys de Castro’s Concrete graphic designs and the spatial interventions of his Objetos Ativos, to the playfulness of Lygia Clark’s participatory and tactile works, and to the theories and poetry of Ferreira Gullar and the Neo-concrete aim of bringing the harshness and sterility of geometry into the fluid, vibrant plane of the living and breathing, to the exploration of the interstices between art and life. As Ledezma writes, “Yet in retrieving [her country’s modernist legacy], Jobim reconstructs. […] Inscribed within a network—and hence extricated from their isolated, autonomous space—these works exist only in their relations with one another, yet such relations are now saturated by historical memory.” In this way, these works cannot be encountered in an experiential vacuum, free from any associations to the world beyond the exhibition space. The visual power inherent in the works thus demands a more holistic approach to viewing, one that allows for the welcome intrusion of memories and interrelationships in the midst of the phenomenological experience of viewing the works in the present moment.
It is this sense of openness in time and place that imbues the work with a feeling of endless potential. It is a potential that lifts and transports viewers through the expanses of their own minds, but ultimately brings them back to where it all started, with wood, with rock, with canvas, with paint, with the square.