Maria Alice Milliet. Luiz Hermano: Construção de um imaginário. Publicado no catálogo da exposição, no Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. versão para o inglês: Building of one’s imagining – 1994 -
Arriving from Berlin, Luiz Hermano saw Duchamp’s bottlecase in the collection of Duchamp’s works, which received an impeccable treatment at Palazzo Grassi in Venice. It was the summer of 1993 and the program of the season included an obligatory visit to the Biennial. When the “vaporetto” approached the entrance to the international exhibition, the iron framework of Da Vinci’s huge horsehead accomplished by Ben Jakober showed itself half immersed in the waters of the lagoon. The trivial kitchen tool revered at the museum as much as the “Troyan Horse” thrown into the sea were ironical enough to put certainties and absoluteness’s surely out of balance. Seen from the boat, the city oscillated like a mirage, while the ground, tourist-laden, seemed gradually to sink. The heat, nevertheless, was unmistakable. Born in Ceará, North Brazil, Hermano did not feel uncomfortable, neither for the heat nor for the relativism of the relativism of the senses.
The toy, playing artifact, and by extension, the play-game without rules – constitute the key to understanding Hermano’s work.
Boy from the back country, Hermano has played with tops, kites, “reco-recos”, balloons, vanes, and “caxixis” (ceramic miniatures); he’s been to the “festas”, in which the mask, the costume and the ornament give life to the characters of the rich Northeastern folklore. In that culture, hand-made work was at the same time life-earning and fun. He grew up watching the craftsman’s ability to handle any available material – in nature or at the market – to provide for his necessities, either domestic or religious, Hermano’s work reveal affinity to this cultural universe, but that does not imply an archaizing movement, or even a reduction to the pure craftsmanship. The tressing he uses to build a volume only indicates that before the bottle-case, he knew the “covo”, the “caçuá” and the varied basketry of the Brazilian Northeastern region. Later, he went to Rio de Janeiro, studied engraving with Carlos Martins and in 1979 he moved to São Paulo and participated in the ’81, ’87 and ’91 Biennials. Then he went abroad.
In Hermano’s work, the line is the building element on the plane as much as in space. It is the thread that makes the web and captures the figure. In the drawing, core of his plastic discourse, the stroke derives from broad, sinuous and restricted movements. The gesture denotes voluptuous pleasure in the curves and roundness, in the repetition of motifs: it becomes graphic when it scratches on the surface, or even tactile when it manipulates the matter. It is the hand’s to and for, insistent as a child’s scrawl or the act of weaving. A certain automatism in this activity liberates the imagination; what remains are reminiscences, sensations, fragments of stories.
Among the recurrent signs of the artist’s production – drawing, engraving, painting and sculpture – two of them are remarkable: the spiral and Moebiu’s ribbon, either isolated or composing new forms. The attentive eye will discover that fauns, sirens, spaceships, larvae, algae, mollusks and other images are formed by an entanglement of lines which, in the engravings, substitute the regularity of the scratching. It is equally possible to recognize those signs in the weft that builds the objects. The works displayed at São Paulo Biennial in 1991 are monumental constructions, some of which, made of tressed, light and flexible wooden plates denote topographical intuition about the space. An enormous oblong object floats overhead: is it a balloon? A spaceship?
The organization of the composition on the flat surfaces is from dreamlike extraction, I would say “figurative” (in Lyotard’s sense): a center less dynamism conducts the floating of the elements. When the theme suggest a narrative (present in the engravings), the figures line up in a kind of parade, following a balloon, a car or a fantastic animal, looking as though surprised by a photographic flash. (Hence, one may think that they are free to exist out of that frame). The sculptures, by their turn, occupy the space with great freedom: lying on the ground, hanging from the ceiling, on the wall and, recently, connected to the body, the positions adopted are provisional and dramatic.
The works of the present exhibition are allegoric when used as body ornaments, fetishes when considered as objects of desire, and always plastic while forms in space. Using liana and wire in most of objects, the artist also handled metal screens, leather bands and even small bells to create a collection of intermediary objects, at the same time static and dynamic, the kinematics happens when the body gets dressed up. Body and object are then invested with new meanings, in an activity of which the food and fuel is the imagination alone. The eyes play a part in this game, Bob Wolfeson’s photos reveal a particular imagining: winged Icarus in reborn, radiant and emblematic: the woman, chaste in her nudity, is covered with the star-embroidered veil while the warrior brings in his shoulder the sign of this virility. The visitor to the exhibition will see the photos as a possible allegory and will view the objects conforming to his fantasy. Luiz Hermano’s sculpture urges the creation of senses in a simultaneous work of loss and recovery.