top of page



Curated by: Fernanda Lopes


Perhaps the first thing that stands out in Thais Beltrame's exhibition is the title. Firstly, forests have a strong poetic charge and since the beginning of time people have inhabited the most different imaginations, such as artists, scientists, writers, environmentalists, musicians and engineers, under the most varied aspects.


This exhibition begins in a forest. In September 2015, the artist spent 15 days alone in a house in the middle of a forest, in Michigan, in the United States, and during that period she made a series of drawings to observe what she saw and found around her. It was a way of trying to face this mysterious, melancholic space, located beyond the walls of the house where he was. The difficulty of being in a place like that made her think of the beginning of melancholy in humanity, which for many authors is linked to the separation between language and nature.


In First the forests, Thais Beltrame gathers about 30 unpublished works that take us to this forest. The drawings mostly keep the scale of our hands. They are accessible, close. At the same time, they are made from the point of view of those who are within that landscape. At the same time that she lets us see what she saw, it also puts us in the position to build our own forest. The melancholy character survives in these drawings. It was difficult for the artist to be there and now, in a sense, it is also difficult for us.


But perhaps the title draws attention not only for the image of the forest that it evokes. Even before entering the exhibition space, the viewer may be intrigued by the comma that is part of the title. "Forests first,". This is a punctuation mark that works almost like a wildcard. Changing your position in a sentence can mean changing the meaning completely, or even losing it. It is almost impossible to predict what comes after it: it can be a complement, a reaffirmation, a reservation, or even an opposition to the initial idea.


The playful dimension has always interested Thais Beltrame and has always been present in her work. As a child, the São Paulo artist already drew, and later, as an artist, children were constant figures in the stories and places built in her works. In this exhibition, children no longer appear as characters, but the playful aspect of the work remains present - whether in the way it deals with the image, how it constructs the landscapes (which here cease to be scenery and begin to take the place of main characters ) or even how it deals with the drawing itself. The body is still present in the artist's work, but it is no longer as a figure. If, as stated earlier, now our body is taken into the work, the drawing is also a body that is thought of as material here. What we see are drawings that do, they start from the two-dimensional surface and the traces made on that surface, but that go beyond. They also use the use of watercolor, engraving and explore different surfaces, using not only different types of paper, but also incorporating the materiality of a cut out of a tree trunk.


Cut - one of the verbs that have been conjugated by the artist since 2013 - is indeed an important action in this exhibition. Here the drawing leaves aside its two-dimensional condition and assumes a three-dimensional character. In some cases, they are simple procedures, such as the simple act of folding the sheet. In others, there is an almost sculptural process of clipping, collage, assembly. The result is drawings in the form of installations and objects that deal with the real space, which even use the light used to illuminate the gallery to produce and incorporate real shadows as part of the work.


And these are drawings that also deal with time. It is almost impossible to look at some of the works and not think that we are looking at a roll of film or a book. In some there is a hint of a sequence while in others, the simple fact of placing an image next to the other instigates us to try to establish a relationship between them, and then the possibility of narrative is born (a story that unfolds in time). Some works are actual books, including cover and back cover in some cases, reinforcing the interest that the artist has always revealed about the literary universe.

In First the forests, we see the different possibilities of construction of narratives. And here, the great character is the act of drawing.


Fernanda Lopes


bottom of page