Delson Uchoa, sailor of the light
In the Canto 2 of the Divine Comedy, Dante narrates the moment in which, getting out of Hell, still on the beach of Purgatory in Virgil's company, he saw a bright light coming out of the water: it was an angel that led to port the souls recently arrived from Earth. The Brazilian poet Jorge de Lima alludes to this same character in Book I of The Invention of Orpheus, called "Island Foundation". In both books, the angel-sailor does not use sails nor oars: the ferry has the force of its wings and moves by the strength of its light. Delson Uchoa is a reader of the two stories. From the state of Alagoas, just like Jorge de Lima, the painter gave the name of Dante to one of his sons. When looking at the set of his recent work, maybe we can see the brightness of this creature at the same time winged and submarine, an enchanting presence that allows us to navigate the river that runs different worlds.
A flow similar to the water appears directly or indirectly in all major paintings of this exhibition. Another point in common is the notion of transit, of an image or a message that is conducted from a space-time to another, seeking new settings and experiences. There is also the superposition: ink and color layers that settle on each other and bother each other, creating horizons and plans to unravel. In two earlier works, Oceano [Ocean] and Equinócio [Equinox], both of 2012, we can see two different and equally potent approaches of these issues.
In Equinócio, the tissue that before was used for umbrellas in China, also used in the photography and performance Bicho-da-seda [Silkworm], helps shape the four plump bobs. Each of them is divided into semicircles, creating two hemispheres. These rounded body needles are at once the four cardinal points and a tangle of possible references to art history: the spears of Ucello, the Turkish minarets, the towers of the Russian avant-garde. The colors that alternate between yellows and reds and roses, light and dark, day and night, reveal that the balance of these bobs does not come from centimeters or magnetism, but an idea of cycle. In Uchoa’s work, the game among colors is always a dance with the sun and therefore a conversation with time. Its color is not raw ink, pure pigment, but color-light, light impact on the landscape, both that which is outside as the one that forms inside our bodies, retina and memory.
Oceano makes it quite clear: the work brings the remembrance that the underwater world is populated by fluorescent colors and tones able to illuminate the abysmal darkness. Uchoa builds an abstract and geometric network, but he subverts the notion of a modern grid to infiltrate its web with imperfections and shuffling - times that fray apart and are not complete. On the network bottom, there is the ocean, which we only see a part of it on the waterfront, on the painting surface. What can be seen is the superposition of layers of color light. These light beams seem to overwhelm the expansion of blue. As winged fish, they heat up the network in shades of yellow, orange and pink, and seem to be able to almost break its way - the architectural veil memory of a musharabi panel. There is in this painting a nearly yellow gold, evoking Klimt and his kaleidoscope painting. Like Uchoa’s work, his work was on the borders of abstraction and figure, anchor of his time and nostalgia of what there was before; painting that is eaten by its borders. The tidal between these two artists could happen on the Byzantium waters with the investigation of the limits of painting beyond the Renaissance window. Painting as a light event, as it creates a multitude of plans from its color reverberation capacity.
In the elliptical travels offered by Uchoa, a sailor of the light, we went until Klimt, but we could reach Matisse. What there is in common between the Alagoas artist and the French painter is the transformation of color into body, line and stain indiscriminately gathered, and a shameless and successful tendency towards architecture in what it has most useless and most beautiful: the ornament. Entretela [Between Canvas], 2014, illuminates these characteristics. The resumption of the Equinócio plumb bobs and the network idea of Oceano gets here new possibilities of interpretation, with the construction of the foundations of a virtual architecture on a canvas that came from the true architecture. An explanation: this is a work which Uchoa calls "grown paintings" [pinturas cultivadas]. It deposits layers and layers of ink on his studio floor and so begins the "cultivation", creating the canvas from sowing the pictorial matter. What we see on the wall as a mirror and a horizon was the floor skin once before. The three-dimensionality that appears in the plans created by diagonal and geometric patterns have as a foundation the real architecture of the artist’s creating space. It is a work created from the process, painting made of paintings – and the Entretela title emphasizes this in a very complex and happy way.
Neurocondução [Neuroconduction], the most recent work in this exhibition, emphasizes Uchoa’s relationship with a color traveling and changing in time. The title is one of the many biological and clinical references that the artist, graduated in Medicine, uses to populates his history in the visual arts. However, Neurocondução highlights once again the dislocation and the metamorphosis, which in this case is the result of a new investigation. The artist has prepared a very thick canvas made of fabric and has fold it like an origami. The drawing in black is made from the fold lines, memory of this foundation, this body-painting. Uchoa exposes this surface outdoors to the action of sun and rain. The pink ink on first plan of the composition is a kind of rainfall watercolor: a drawing done by the clouds and their precipitations, a color lagoon which has dried on the geometry and has reconfigured it. This is a painting that opens up new paths for the relationship of this restless artist with the landscape and the topography. New waters, other luminous and spiral travels.
If we ended this text also in an ellipse, we could come back to Jorge de Lima: "I am the Light but I was sent / to witness the light / flowing of someone else’s poem”.