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Curated by: Mauro Trindade

The portrait is a subject dear to painting, a genre that Baudelaire noted to be so modest in appearance and in need of immense intelligence. Without the grandiloquence of historical painting or the effects of the landscape, the portrait allowed the construction of a certain identity today undermined by the subject's wandering personality today. In this context, the exhibition After today, with the most recent works by Paulo Vieira, can be understood as a great self-portrait. All my painting is self-portrait, he reiterates.


After today there is no program. It is evocative and random like the verse by Paulo Leminski that baptizes it. When we look at the finished set, we think it was born that way. But these works were not done by imagining an exhibition. I wanted to go back to painting with oil, which I hadn't done in a long time. And I didn't want to venture out on a big screen. But I started to like it, to move it, he reveals. As he preferred to work with small format screens, the set of images acquired a fragmentary character and, paradoxically, a strong cohesion.


There are many layers here. Both the dense matter of the paints and ideas and findings. In his thirty years of work with oil, acrylic and graphite, the artist has immersed himself in painting alien to temporary influences and fads. His art is entirely attached to the process of discovery and inquiry. It can be said to be obsessive, due to the permanent concern to be carried out with rigor, which explains his enormous knowledge of the kitchen of painting. It is not the hand that makes, but the eye, it observes. When she was a student of Lygia Pape, she always repeated that the artist needed to know how to talk about his work. Advice identical to what he heard from Celeida Tostes, for whom the artist must be aware of his creative process.


Paulo Vieira's paintings and drawings usually have several versions before reaching the result. What we see is the product of long and persistent sessions and each painting is usually preceded by experiments submerged in new layers of paints. In that one, I don't even know how the cotton resisted. I scraped the screen to get less material. But then the scraping pleased me, he says.


His work does not reveal itself in a simple way, because it brings images carefully articulated around the ideas of isolation, incommunicability and inner life. They speak inside. Each tells a story, but it is each spectator who completes it with their individual experiences, he adds. If something appears in an intuitive way, it is subjected to a pictorial intelligence attentive to the resources used by the artist. The images create pitfalls that you have to avoid. There are solutions that we develop that can be seductive, but that can also be harmful, because we end up repeating ourselves, he warns.


Logic and investigative work prevent painting from becoming an illustration of adapted theories and support it in its own conceptual thickness. This is the case with his donkey drawings, which break with the continuity of forms and confront geometry with irrationality. Drawing is a way of associating the animal with a line rigor that is totally external to it, which makes it seem that things can be reinvented, he believes. Paulo Vieira abandons the traditional conception of self-portrait, as a social representation of public life, for crypt-portrait, which in his case may be women, lampposts, dogs, street corners and a couple of werewolves. The exception is his sharp and disturbing image strangled by strings. There is a planned detachment from realism, grandeur and sentimentality that keeps you from a hurried figurative, in fact, from any figurative, just look at how your brushstrokes are combined with a background and figure logic. Evasive and silent as a Sunday street.


Mauro Trindade


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