Sobre a exposição/About the exhibition
The world is my garden
In a statement given in 1993, Marcos Coelho Benjamim defined himself as a “maker of things”. The candour with which he explains himself does not contradict in any way the sophisticated integrity of his work. These “things”, that can be in the form of paintings, drawings, sculptures, or objects, show us how the artist portrays a sense of truth and free poetic invention in his work.
This invention stems from a fluent intuition, which, by making use of any material – be it raw, residual, or industrial – he creates something new, enforcing a sense on the things beyond what they originally had without needing to forego any of its primary physical or formal features.
However, by looking closely at his “work material”, contrary to what would seem at first sight to be a “precarious aesthetic”, Benjamim makes us realize that this praise to the fragile is only partial. There is, in fact, an elegant synthesis between material and plastic elements from a popular culture that is dear to him, with formal problems from the word of contemporary sculpture,( such as repetition, seriality, gesture, conciseness, the boundary between languages illustrated, form example, in his “graters” and paintings with zinc sheets, which have a sculptural presence but activate the two-dimensional – pictorial – surface of the wall) that invite us to recognize a connection between the most distinct motivations that pervade artistic creation, which can be both cultural and, – without wishing to seem trite – human, and that are evident from the studios of Soho to the workshops in Vale do Jequitinhonha(Jequitinhonha Valley).
In a way, it touches on the Brazilian part of his work; if the possibility of entwinement between academic and popular elements seems to be a first her an additional comment is necessary: we have said that Benajmim makes use of any technique or material, and some of them may or may not be exclusively local. A certain land or timber, yes; but many others are found throughout the world. His idiosyncrasy, therefore, is related to his being interested in anything and everything that is around him, whether near or far from the center of his circle. “My backyard is the world”, as he once said, takes here on emphatic sense, you know the world from where you stand. And things are created from asking the question what can you do with what you have available, as well as what these things can once again offer in a plastically interesting manner. The fact is that Benjamim does not follow rationalization or an arbitrarily defined conceptual program, using instead (as we have said) confidence in his exuberant, intuitive intelligence in regards to the material, allowing it to reveal its qualities, surprises, wealth and novelty. Commenting on his paintings from the last decades, the artist once showed, for example the challenge imposed to color by the zinc sheet – at first it was not very easy to paint, but its shine won over and the whirlwind of movements given by the cut-outs on the chassis made for a unique and special vibration – or the Rosewood powder, which makes the thinly applied brush stoke appear like a colour “straight from nature”, producing an opposite effect from that of the physically striking graters.
The issue of the materials and objects also presents us another essential factor. After all, they are not transferred “inertly” from one circumstance to another (as advocated by the ready-made). When we call attention to he artist´s physical transformative act, we noticed something in it from the early stages of Benjamim´s career. His early drawings and paintings were already attentive to creating a fantasy atmosphere blended with imaging realism, in other words, how the unexpected infiltrates reality through a gap. They were landscapes of imaginary cities, cartoons with unusual situations (and many more scenes in which one hesitated to believe how they could be real or invented).
When we look at what he has done throughout the last decades, we realize that the “fantastical” that previously crystallized in a staged picture, now occurs directly on this kind of “transubstantiation” of the matters involved in the artistic act, or to be more objective, of how things, reworked by the artist´s hand, are able to create solutions that take us from the trivialized coexistence we have with ordinary things, the artist invents a new reality in the everyday world with what is close, and we do not discern anymore; his objects, unlike those utilities (designed according to a rigorously pre-defined project and condemned to increasingly impersonal contact), not only serve as “activators of the imagination”, but above all, have their own temperament with their respective moods.
The peculiarity of his artistic consistency is related to not being restricted to enclosure and not being led towards an inaccurate and easy association with chaotic dynamics. There is the organicism of his own system; a system where the edges are the center, i.e., how the artist extracts his forms from the junction of handcraft and other industrial materials, with similar provenance, but alternating which hand will attempt to experience which material and will be lost in the intricacies of unsuspected discoveries and luckily at hand, without the need for heroism. There is, again as seen in the recent paintings, the inquiry of how a specific formal procedure triggers results that envision pre-logic of composition, and require solutions. It is, ultimately, a conduit of an artistic experience that strongly wishes to leave room so that every day brings a new invention.
Informação(ões) do(s) artista(s)/About the artist(s)
Marcos Coelho Benjamim, was born in1952 in Nanuque, Minas Gerais. He has shown since childhood the gift for the visual arts. In 1969, he moved to Belo Horizonte, where he lives, intensifying his participation in the artistic and cultural scene. Since 1971, he has developed works in the graphic artsand cartoons, collaborating with newspapers. In 1973, the collector Gilberto Chateubriand acquires sixty of his drawings. In 1976, he made his first sculptural objects searching for popular artistic manifestations of the region, which marked his production profoundly in the 1980`s. During the last two decades, he has held numerous exhibitions in Brazil and abroad, took part in saloons and biennials, and received several awards. His work stood out for its singularity in the production of contemporary Brazilian art, being present in outstanding collections in the country and abroad. In 1989, he took part in the 20th International Biennal of São Paulo, and received the Itamaraty Prize. In 2000, the book “Marcos Coelho Benjamim” was published, focusing all his production, organized and written by Aracy Amaral.
Considered one of the most representative artists of contemporary Brazilian art, his work has been frequently presented in international exhibitions, appearing in many private collections, cultural institutions and museums in Brazil and abroad. Among them, there are the National Museum of Fine Arts ( Rio de Janeiro), The Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Palácio Itamaraty, Brasília), The Museum of Arts of Belo Horizonte, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum (Curitiba), the Itaú Cultural Collection (São Paulo), The Gilberto Chateaubriand Collection (Rio de Janeiro), the Luiz Antônio de Almeida Braga Collection (Rio de Janeiro), the Patrícia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (Caracas, Venezuela and New York), and the Latin American Art Collection of the University of Essex (England).