José Damasceno


Jul 25 – Aug 29, 2009

Galpão Fortes Vilaça

After four years without showing in São Paulo, José Damasceno is returning to the city with the exhibition Complementar [Complementary] at Galpão Fortes Vilaça. The show features never-before-shown works from the Projeto-Objeto [Project-Object] series, the sculpture Complementar (also shown here for the first time, and providing the exhibition’s title), as well as the work Satélite [Satellite] which participated in the show Coordenadas y Apariciones [Coordinates and Apparitions] at Museu Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, in 2008.

Each work in the Projeto-Objeto series is a three-dimensional object attached to the wall, consisting of supports/boxes with a substrate of graph paper. Within them, a succession of various happenings takes place by way of collages, assemblages, cutouts and color notations, often involving the idea of a game. In extraordinary ways, they simultaneously deal with issues concerning scale and systems of representation. Damasceno discusses themes involving sculptural thought, such as relations of opposition or complementarity among the shapes, volumes and textures. The use of graph paper – a material possessing technical characteristics related to geometry as well as to the representation of a “projectual” approach – is associated with unlikely elements, giving rise to surprising unfoldings and narratives in each new artwork.

Damasceno appropriates many curious objects, such as a small marble sculpture of
a female figure,  a 1920s flapper, or a small 19th-century bronze element; or even materials such as acrylic and felt, which when brought together pique the the viewer’s curiosity, lending the artwork a “surprising and mysterious” nature. The series Projeto-Objeto, which arose in 2006, currently reflects the artist’s full potential for entirely new developments.

Complementar is a strictly abstract and geometric artwork without any immediate figurative reference, composed of 56 solid white tablets made from industrial polypropylene by the processes of cutting, grinding and polishing. The tablets are distributed throughout the expository space, on the walls as well as the floor. This artwork simultaneously deals with concepts of drawing, sculpture and installation, since it is related with all these categories and problematizes them by “being all of them yet not fitting fixedly in any of them.” As it is arranged throughout an open space and is walked through, the viewer experiences it spatially, observing how it spreads across the wall, thus becoming situated “within the question and the indetermination that it bears,” the artist explains.
Complementar is the development of a field of questions opened by a group of previous artworks, Poco a Poco [Little by Little], 2005, A Gruta [The Cave], 2006, Flotante [Floating], 2006, From Another Distance (Morphic Flip Cart ), 2006, Figura-escala [Figure-Scale], 2008, and, primarily, Projeto-Objeto, 2006. As the piece emphatically advances into three-dimensional space, it presents questions raised by the projective and scalar space of the Projeto-Objeto series and their narratives, underscored by the aspect of spatial dislocation among the elements.

Satélite is made up of hundreds of identical postcards arranged in a metallic structure like the traditional postcard display racks found in shops and bookstores. Here, however, the rack is perched up so high that the viewer has no possibility to reach or handle the cards, each of which bears the identical black-and-white image of the rack itself on an empty beach, against a background of sea and horizon. Visitors can nevertheless purchase one of the cards and receive it through the mail after the show. A network of paths traveled by the postcards is thereby proposed, determining a sort of “set of orbits” around the artwork.