Tadeu Chiarelli. O minimalismo, a arte brasileira, o pós-minimalismo e a produção de Luiz Hermano, mas não necessariamente nesta ordem. Publicado no catálogo da exposição na Joel Edelstein Arte Contemporânea, RJ – versão para o inglês: Brazilian Art, Post-Minimalismo and the artistic production of Luiz Hermano. Not necessarily in that order – 1995 –
To think about Luiz Hermano’s work is to reflect upon a significant trend in contemporary Brazilian art as it relates to the minimalist art which the United States projected onto the international scene.
In their attempt to break away from subjectivity and the expression of the self in art, the minimalists (and some of the post-minimalists) brought to this same space the logic of industrial society: the depersonalization of industrial labor and the repeated use of modular elements were emphasized in the work of these artists. Seeking to break with the ides of art as a way of recreating the world through self-expression or the traditional rules of composition, North American artists conceived their works in accordance with the very structures suggested by the gestalt of the modules they used.
Although such a practice was already noticeable in post-pictorial abstraction (and even in Pop Art), it was the minimalists who internationalized the procedure.
Thus, Cari André’s “Lever” sculpture, for instance, indefinitely repeated the very structure of the brick which was its minimal unit. Donald Judd’s definition of the method of production in his own modular sculptures – setting one module beside another — might well be extended to all minimalist art.
In North American artistic production, the authorship of a work is subjugated to an action, which, though consciously recognized by the artist, has not been created by him. The keynote for the structure of a work is the module or, in the case of the post-minimalism, the very material employed.
In observing Luiz Hermano’s work, one realizes that the logic behind it is not the same as the logic which informs North American artistic production. Whereas in North America it is industrial society that supports the artist’s action upon the world, in Hermano it is precisely elements of a pre-industrial logic which structure his production.
If André is explicit about an external intelligence which he merely appropriates — in an operation which ultimately renews Duchamp’s concept of the ready-made — Hermano experiments the “handmade” intelligence behind his own production. Where André and Judd set one module beside another, or Richard Serra winds or creases, folds or accumulates, twists or cuts materials, Hermano connects, ties and sews…
Acting more precisely in the world or with the world than on the world, Hermano not only appropriates an intelligence or rationality previous to himself — he becomes part of it.
It is precisely this country’s non-erudite tradition of handcrafting that his production incorporates to Brazilian contemporary art, a tradition not yet extinct, despite (or because of) the discontinuous, vacuum-filled process of industrialization which Brazil has experienced for many decades.
On the other hand, despite their distance from the above-mentioned North American production, it is interesting that Hermano’s pieces possess a similar characteristic: they tend equally to obliterate expression of the artist’s self and perhaps even the notion of authorship itself, as they repeat procedures external to Hermano. Only not through the logic of the industrial process but precisely through its opposite — the logic of handicraft.
This contemporary quality, achieved through a negation of one of the principal foundations of contemporary art, is what makes Luiz Hermano’s production, along with that of so many other Brazilian artists, so significant (it is important to remember that Lygia Clark’s “Bichos” avail themselves of a similar logic).
In constructing his sculptures, Luiz Hermano obeys the standards and the internal intelligence of certain pre-existing techniques such as weaving, basket making, and other handcrafting procedures which have existed from time immemorial. Only in a country like Brazil, where industrialization failed to break with the mode of production which, in other nations, preceded it, would it be pertinent to find an artist who, in working with industrialized materials, retrieves with such intensity and propriety the age-old practices of handcrafting.
Furthermore: to the puritanical, affirmative, and nearly always authoritarian rationality of North American and international art, Hermano opposes a constructive logic based on the automatism of making, on a taste for the ornamental, on an interest in the possibility of manipulation. His pieces do not aspire to vast dimensions and do not impose themselves upon the observer. They seek instead to please and to participate in transforming the lives of those who observe or (better yet) who experience them.
Introduced to the heavy and self-sufficient world of international minimalist or post-minimalist art, Luiz Hermano’s “Cube”, for instance, problematizes some notions very dear to that same world. The greatest symbol of clarity, reason and Western logic, the cube is transformed, in this artist’s conception, into a sort of wire structure which is never self-supporting — a sort of tissue which requires the aid of the public to be fully revealed.
Instead of rolling, pleating, folding, twisting, or cutting, some Brazilian artists have been sewing, embroidering, connecting, and setting hinges between the non-erudite Brazilian visuality and the great questions of international art of the last few decades. This is the context which Luiz Hermano’s production occupies. And amplifies.
(*) The attentive reader will soon realize that some of the considerations in this essay have been influenced by readings of two highly significant North American texts: “Richard Serra/Sculpture”, by Rosalind E. Krauss, published in Richard Serra Sculptures (edited by Laura Rosenstock), New York, MoMA, 1986 and “Richard Serra”, by Richard Serra, published in The New Avant-Garde: Issues for the Art of the Seventies (edited by Grégorie Muller and Gianfranco Gorgoni), Washington, London: Praeger, 1972.
Equally as important as these readings, however, was Mário de Andrade’s 1928 essay “O Aleijadinho”, reprinted in Aspectos das Artes Plásticas no Brasil, São Paulo: Livraria Martins Editora, 1965.