Almost this or almost that: the charm of Go, Jac and Teresa. Frederico Morais, 1985
In the back wall of Petite Galerie, there is a painting by Teresa Berlinck in which she describes a perfectly trivial, domestic, mundane scene: someone before a TV set. Remains of pop realism recycled by the 1980`s painting. Drawing crudeness associated to the use of industrial ink on paper, which causes a certain visual annoyance, while attracting the viewer`s hand. Television, that modern-life totem, occupies the center of the painting, keeping the spectator paralyzed on the sofa. At first sight, everything is summarized there in this banal portrait of modern urban everyday. However, the significant detail is beyond the video, upwards: a half canvas, whose author, is, without a doubt, José Roberto Aguilar.
This detail allows a double reading. The first one refers to the very struggle (or a dialogue, certainly tense, but enriching) between mass culture and/or cultural industry, and other more refined or sophisticated forms of visual culture – painting, for example. It happens that in modern society what is at our hand`s reach, before our eyes, is a dense vegetation of appliances, the paraphernalia of electronic media, that exert a very strong influence on our way of being and acting, mainly on young people. To Teresa, as well as to Go and Jac Leirner, who exhibit at this time at Petite Galerie, rock`n`roll must have been a much bigger, or deeper, influence on their visual formation than the fine arts classes at Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation, in São Paulo, they live. In the same way, street graffiti is, at times, more visually exciting than the well behaved painting in museums and galleries.
The second reading is the homage, that, through Teresa, the three render to Aguilar, who introduces them in their first foray in the Rio de Janeiro circuit. All of them rock fans, the three had met Aguilar and his Banda Performatica. And Aguilar is, as we know, one of the first people in Brazil (since the 60`s) to use the language of graffiti in his paintings, which are a delirious gush of images or scribbles, sometimes quotings Oswald de Andrade or Bukowski. The citation, confounding with the homage, is a common place in contemporary production, which has, in history of art itself, its garden or dictionary of forms.
Go, for example, shyer and more intimist, perhaps even more conservative in her language, recurs to graphism, which was fashionable around the 1950`s, at the time of tachisme, and comes back now, when it happens a kind of neo-informalism. Go mentions a poet, Edgar Braga, makes verbal puns, transcribes long excerpts her favorite authors, but, in the end, it is not the text that counts, but the word while icon, while mass, while game of shades and lights, of deepness and surface. Now, for example, she enacts oriental calligraphies, but the half-dada side of her proposal cuts any spiritualistic pretense that always accompanies oriental art, or at least is what Westerners always imagine to find in a calligram or kakemono – the power of synthesis, the precision of the gesture, and so on. It is in an almost debauched way that she faces that tradition.
By the way, it is that almost that will mark Jac`s creation, perhaps the most refined of the trio, since she has art in her blood. The Leirners, since the 1950`s, or even before, command a good part of Brazilian art: they are patrons, marchands, critics, collectors and, above all, artists. Her father, for example, is an important collector, whose specialty is constructive art of the 50`s. And Jac Leirner, only 23 years-old, is almost a constructive artist, almost a conceptual artist. One of her objects is called, in fact, symptomatically, “Almost square”, a kind of Waltercio Caldas out of square, a little clumsy, a crooked angel on the wall. This “almost”, of course, is not incompetence or the fear of a tag; it is refinement, the intellectual component, the “dada” she puts in everything she does. Fruit of a visual, more than bookish, knowledge, which is at the same time a family inheritance. Thus she plays with the white of the wall, with the inaccuracy of lines and geometric forms, with ordinary industrial material, rubber, plastic, making flags or pyramids, all being in the plan of virtualities and visual ambiguities. In fact, Go also has art in her blood, being, in spite of her 24 years, an aunt of Tunga, and someone who grew up among Guignard paintings.
What we see at Petite Galerie is not a collective show, but three simultaneous solos. It is three different personalities. It is difference that unites them, but at least in one point they meet: the prevalence of a certain graphism that involves their creations. There is a black outline in Teresa`s paintings, Jac`s constructions are a line in space, almost three-dimensional, while the line is the very essence of Go`s work. They still have a taste for quoting, and this almost (Go is almost pattern, Jac is almost constructive, Teresa is almost what? I don`t know, it is almost-almost) makes for the charm of post-modernism. Finally, for their extreme youth, they are almost artists, they are being formed, are growing. Just wait.
Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, March 25, 1985