Multiple - Felipe Scovino

Felipe Scovino

Instead of a critical text, Renata Tassinari and Felipe Scovino decided to publish a few points raised by Felipe after their conversation. These comments deal with the process through which Renata’s work develops, and the concepts that provide important vehicles for a better understanding of it: the plasticity of her paintings, independent of support; her influences; her research involving color; the coexistence and dialogue between the drawings and the paintings; the appearance of elements like softness and delicacy in the works on paper; and the use of collage and materials other than ink. All underline an original dimension of Renata’s work. Let’s proceed with these notes, appearing in blocks, separated by images of the works.

The paintings on paper, as I am calling them, and the works on canvas have the same "weight" in the work of Renata Tassinari. They are in constant conversation. They are very close because they fundamentally deal with the same issues. The paintings on paper are not "minor," nor a "laboratory" for the canvases, but, on the contrary, establish a perfect and uniform link. After an almost 30 year career we can witness, during this consistent trajectory, that the production on paper, be it in the late 1980s or early 2000s – to limit myself to what is being shown in the exhibition –, is the origin of the most recent works, which use the acrylic frame as support, alongside the canvases produced during these periods. The thread of white light, the thickness of the color, the virtualization of space using this layer of color that appears to float, the collage, among other aspects, are all present in every phase of her work. In this sense, the multiple specially conceived for the exhibition establishes this connecting thread. In this meeting between the multiple and the paintings on paper we can observe all the characteristics of her work and, especially, the research with color.

The group of works in the exhibition dating from the early 2000s has a closer relationship with North-American painting of the postwar period, especially Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Brice Marden. I refer especially to two circumstances: first, the appearance of this crooked, discontinuous, irregular line that magically renders everything slower and quieter; second, the transformation of color into light, a kind of chromatic field that advances beyond that zone where it is located graphically.
In the paintings on paper (and I use this term to establish an autonomy relative to drawing because I think that this is, above all, a discussion about painting) we perceive an index of experimentation that is striking in her work. Besides collage, there is the wax that, in this case, reinforces the material component of the color that lies at the base of her research, something pursued and remade in her work. I would like to think that Renata researches the thickness of color.

The experiments on paper and canvas have always occurred concomitantly in her work. At the beginning of her career, the appearance of cut wood and sandpaper already show this pulsating quality in the material, of leaving the plane and entering space, as if the canvas could no longer contain the amount of relationships established (with the color, with the form, and with its own structure) and, as a result, swelled and began to vibrate. In the paper works of the early 2000s, this relationship continues, but it is the color that stimulates this vibration. It is color-light, vibrating so strongly that the medium in which it is located is insufficient, unable to contain this experience within its limits, so that color ends up expanding beyond the support.

Canvas and paper, little by little, but consistently and precisely, cease to act simply as supports for the pictorial gesture and become constituent parts of the work itself. The use of collage, of wood cutouts and, later, of acrylic covered with paint to achieve a trompe l'oeil or an image that tricks our eyes, support the idea that it is right there, in the sacralized space of painting itself, using the elements that give it form, that it – painting – engenders itself. Maybe Renata’s work is not a kind of painting that converses with, or reinvents the constructive poetics but, instead, deconstructs it.

Still in connection with the previous statement, in spite – or perhaps because – of the constructive sign, what these paintings make visible are architectural spaces. We can see this circumstance in the canvases and paintings on paper created concurrently between the late 1980s and the beginning of the subsequent decade. Again, the use of trompe l'oeil emphasizes not an attempt to create a virtual and optical field for color, but elucidates that these vertical color structures are doors, walls, columns, windows, living spaces.

The works on paper made in 1990 veer towards an area in which the economy of elements is invoked and becomes itself a means. Something unlike the painting or drawing produced in Brazil up to that point, with rare exceptions such as the production of Mira Schendel. Renata’s works, therefore, touch on Zen Buddhism in their use of white space and the quick and strong strokes, but that is not exactly what guides them; they have a kinship with the constructive, but that is also not what represents them. It is this "middle of the road,” this state of indefiniteness, that makes the work of Renata so original.

Especially in her works on paper, the appearance of color is connected to softness or delicacy. I just used an expression that could also be translated as "silent forms," which would be equally to the point. But this softness becomes visible in distinct situations. In the works on paper of the early 1990s, especially those in which the white of the paper is more emphasized, the line is more fragile but, at the same time, rigid; however, in the works of the early 2000s, and particularly in the works from 2002, this smoothness of line turns into a color that dissolves on the paper, like light or an aqueous structure.

In the body of work produced in 1990 that can be seen in this exhibition, one notices an economy of gestures and lines; because the paper ground is not a secondary agent for them, that is, it is not only a support for the appearance of the color, but plays, as if this were possible, the "role" of color. In the intervals between the appearance and absence of color, white is the link that connects, participates, and activates a space-between. The white, or the support-paper, becomes an active space that connects and makes these color fields vibrate and interact.