sexta-feira, setembro 04, 2015

The Collector's Eye (Joe Berardo): "Severambia" by Frank Stella (1995)

(13 ft high mural)

Art for art’s sake has no meaning. In itself it depends on us to make beauty so that it can live. Art validates our mortality. I know I’m here on Earth for a short time and I’ve an obligation to leave my footprint in the sand. What does it mean to leave something behind? It can be a poem, a novel, a tree, children, a firm, the way we conduct ourselves in life, anything that consubstantiates what I was. This is the only way I know to conquer the forces of evil. This is how I teach my children. Art is the thing that lives beyond me and leaves behind a little something of me. Art draws the knowledge from my life and gives it a way to be expressed.

This made me think what art is really about. Is a toilette sink laying in the center of an empty room "art"? I think it is. It all depends on the eyes of the beholder, and that's enough in my book. Art’s purpose arises from its being an end in itself, or more accurately, the embodiment of many different things that are valuable to me. As Andy Warhol said, art can be painting, sculpture, music, literature, theatre performance, writing, and whatever else. Art is a reaction to something in front of our eyes (in this case, Frank’s Sevarambia). Looking at this piece repeatedly like I did at CCB happened because I was fascinated by it, not because I thought the painting was saying something about politics, society or my human desires. When I’m fascinated by something, attracted to it, or repelled by it, my responses to that thing are all that matters; the making of art is one hell of a way of expressing such responses.

When something challenges me the way this piece of art did, I remain simply flabbergasted, and in awe. It captured an aspect of the world, drew attention to something about it by presenting me with a surprising angle on it, namely the colours of the object, as well as its eccentricity.

I always “measure” art by the response it provokes in me. In Portuguese there’s a verb with a difficult translation in English: “interpelar”. It might mean “to challenge”, “to tackle”, “respond to something”, “to question”, but in a sense requiring a response from deep within myself. That’s the answer I look for when I read something, when I watch something, or when I look at something, be it art or something else. It always provokes a response within me. And I feel the need to write about it, in order to process it internally. If I don’t write about it, the effect of that “thing” on me is partially lost.

I’ve recently read poetry written by a friend of mine (Helena). Her poetry also resonated within me in a good way. The impulse to make art, be it Poetry, novels or short-stories, can also result in the artist imparting a message, but the art lies not in the message but in the way it is conveyed. That’s particularly true when I think on the “purpose” of poetry.

At the end of the day, I define art by its relationship with me, because it can make something move in my domain of thought and emotion, where such movements embody life. 

Stella's "Severambia" looks like a 4-meters-high-living and deformed wave, bending itself and swallowing us whole with its organic and colourful motifs: it's majestic, and at the same time massive and aerial.

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