Agnaldo Farias


2005 – Agnaldo Farias. Luiz Hermano: Ludens. Publlicado no catálogo da exposição “Discover Brazil: 21 Contemporary Positions”. Ludwig Museum, Koblenz, Alemanha

There are those artists whose poetic project entails the construction of a territory governed by fixed rules, a stable realm recognizable from the distance and possibly portable-a project we could take home and keep readily at hand, so we could view it anytime we needed to, that is, anytime our spirit called for a bit of solidity. Luiz Hermano’s creative challenge, in turn, entails the foudation of a realm the statutes of which are frequently reshuffled-a realm based on the establishment of ongoing, mutant relations between different things; a creation by someone who, like himself, sees the world as a kaleidoscope of times and images that, at each changing event, teaches us how to improve our capacity to view and play.


Luiz Hermano is an artist who plays, in the tralatitious sense of this expression. He plays with the same earnestness of an adult who-unlike a child enthralled with the logic of a game -, is capable of pondering rules and objectives before proceeding to change said game. Hermano plays with toys and games he invents, or with toys and games he appropriates and then reinvents. This is the way he has worked for a long time now, beginning in the 1980s with paintings, engravings, and drawings noted for their intense colors and well-defined freehand outlines-quite disconnected, therefore, from rules and compasses. With these lines he created unusual and fun machines, implausible apparatuses resembling fat-bellied boats, spaceships, and submarines equipped with rounded windows and propellers that only stressed their clumsy looks and precarious functionality placed at the service of dream, rather than necessity.


Over time the artist has expanded the scope of this playful disposition, taking up an in-depth investigation into the notions of toy and game. Nowadays, the artist’s research yields distinctive results, as shown for example in his miniaturized renditions of characters taken from everyday life-dolls, cars, plastic horses, pre-historic creatures, bikers etc.-, a boundless repertoire of small devices through which, since our childhood days, we have grown familiar with characters, protagonists, and activities from the adult world. Luiz Hermano is a compulsive collector who gathers toys, takes them apart, and then puts them back together into new configurations by sewing them, linking them through rubber hoses, dipping them in an entanglement of aluminum threads, thus creating complex circuits the purpose and activation of wich we ignore. Thus, it is as if the earlier docile toys now were transformed into strange organisms.


Hermano’s production also includes those works that belong in a more abstract order, situated between object and game. Their references are, for example prosaic tops, boards used for darts and archery, and wooden squares used in word games, with imprinted letters and numbers-all of wich require attention and dexterity. They are toys and games that prompt children to associate logic reasoning and accuracy, that is to say, they teach players the subtle relationship between the aimed result and the procedures involved in achieving it, the concatenated actions that restore the unity of the whole, and the manner in wich to follow clues and deductions so as to fit together the mass of pieces of any puzzle game. As to the top, for example, we all remember perfectly well the anticipation of the perfect casting: the arm stretching out in a quick motion, then suddenly halting and springing back, pulling the string from around the compact wooden cone, and allowing it to spin on the ground-thus attracting the viewer’s gaze to a dancing body whose swift rotation for a moment could be taken for stillness. Any one of us clearly recollects the attempt to conjugate the estimation of a dart’s weight, the way to grip it at its point of balance, and the adequate arm motion to toss it so that the thrown dart will describe an elliptical trajectory towards the bull’s-eye. Finally, all of us have at some point occupied the spare time of a rainy afternoon with a word game, trying to arrange a small number of letters into words. As one letter drew another, fragile syllabic molecules were formed and then dissolved to favor an interlock pattern of letters that yielded meaningful words.


For their better part, Luiz Hermano’s works actualize the surprise factor contained in each game. To him, art is an idle practice propped on and fulfilled by the sheer joy of building, beginning from the very soil in wich this art takes roots and germinates, and proceeding along the fabrication of clever nexuses of parts to conquer the heights;that is, by creating busy surfaces, and planes that gently bend to the point of forming volumes hollowed by air and light. This is precisely what we find in the third order of toys and games that Hermano creates: objects derived from an interpretation of engineering as a playful and entertaining activity that involves melting down geometry and treating it as the source of flexible structures on the verge of tumbling. This is the case, for example, with Hermano’s several versions of “towers” built with boxwood folding rules. Always slender and elegant-looking, the towers take advantage of the malleability of this measuring tool, a straight line segment that can be bent to form all sorts of angles, to rise into forthright elastic impulses, and to proceed as gently impending, piled-up layers. This holds true for “Intrínseco” (Intrinsic), a set of white plastic squares fitted one inside the order and fastened onto the wall in such a way as to be at the mercy of gravity, clashing and scrambling, as if mocking the effectiveness of certainties and figures.