A possible approach to Brazilian contemporary painting
Ana Magalhães - Professor and Curator at MAC USP
MAC USP welcomes the exhibition Contemporary Art Designations in Brazil, having José Antonio Marton as curator. While selecting nine artists, taking painting as the medium and the
variety of Brazilian landscape as the basis for their works, the show reveals a thriving contemporary production.
In contemporary art history, the issue of the death of painting has been raised to talk about the fatigue, of the medium, or the fact that it could no more respond to contemporary experience. As a medium primarily associated with artistic tradition, against which the artists of the 20th century have always tried to break away from (though at the same time fascinated with it), painting could no more be the medium of contemporary art. The issue was also raised to talk about the end of the linear narrative of art, or the end of art history as the privileged discourse of artistic practice. However, painting remained as an important medium for contemporary artistic practice, in various parts of the world. In Brazil, there are many artists making use of it, in different ways, as we can see here. They all certainly combine it with other media, such as printing, photography, video, etc, sometimes to revisit traditional painting genres, such is the case here, since Brazilian landscape is the core of these artists' works.
Painting, medium, design: these three terms have a long tradition in artistic literature and as a matter of fact, have served a fundamental argument. This is the argument of art as a legitimate field of knowledge production, through the tool that unite the three terms above mentioned: drawing (or in the old meaning of the word in Italian - disegno - plan/project/desire and invention. This is probably why painting never dies. Therefore contemporary art, here and all around the world, have shown its vitality and its capacity to reinvent itself.
In the 1980s, MAC USP housed an exhibition (today understood as a pioneering show and recently revisited in a curatorship in the museum) of the young contemporary production in painting in those years. Though we are not working here with the category of "young painting, the selection of works propose by Contemporary Art Designations in Brazil gives us once more the opportunity to investigate and to start to assess contemporary painting in Brazil - as the show Pintura como meio [Painting as medium] in the 1980s had done.
© 2017 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo