Brazilian artist Iran do Espírito Santo (Mococa, 1963) shows a selection of new works next to pieces by American artist Fred Sandback (Bronxville, 1943 – New York, 2003) at Carpintaria, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel’s venue in Rio de Janeiro, whose mission is to propose dialogues, meetings and think tanks, of various artists, expressions and discourses. The duet, performed in conjunction with the Fred Sandback Estate and David Zwirner Gallery, highlights the creative affinities of the duo’s vast artistic productions, even though their trajectories are separated by generation and geography.
One of the main names linked to American minimalism, Fred Sandback became internationally known by sculptures that outline three-dimensional space and create volumetric shapes. In the US in the 60’s, minimalism emerges as a reaction to post-war artistic expressions in visual arts. Artists like Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Agnes Martin used their work to question the principles of abstract expressionism, which they considered academic and already obsolete. They would keep away from the symbolism and dramatic charge of expressionist paintings, and highlight the material aspect of the often industrially sourced objects and devices employed in their works.
Iran do Espírito Santo initiates his career in the 80’s, in São Paulo, after graduating at FAAP (Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado). Moving away from neoexpressionist painting, typical from that decade, the artist starts to question visual representation codes in his own drawings, sculptures and installations, tightening the relationship between what is seen and what is understood by the viewer’s sight. That’s the question that is presented, for example, in Compressão horizontal [Horizontal Compression] (2018), a painting made straight over Carpintaria’s side wall. By creating a gradient of white, grey and black shades on a 50 feet wide wall, the artist broadens the exhibition room’s perceptive possibilities.
The relationship between the work and the environment it occupies is a fundamental question for Sandback’s sculptures. While stretching various lengths of acrylic yarn vertically, horizontally and diagonally, the artist develops a unique visual syntax, creating pictorial planes and architectural volumes capable of altering the experience of space. In Untitled (Sculptural Study, Ten-part Vertical Construction) (c. 1991-2018), ten threads precisely pinned from floor to ceiling reveal an artistic practice that merges accuracy and simplicity, precision and experimentation.
Their interest in lines becomes clear with the selection of drawings by each. In the new series UHT (2018) – acronym for “unidade de habitação temporária” [“temporary housing unit”] – Iran reorganizes geometric volumes while extensively and repeatedly drawing horizontal and vertical lines with a pencil. If, for many artists, drawing tends to occupy a place of experimentation and sketching prior to sculpture or painting production, for this duo the practice of tracing on paper seems to be a research of the inner possibilities of drawing as a platform itself. Sometimes using pastel, sometimes colored pencils, Sandback transcends the trivial use of drawing as a sketch, as a project; he seeks, instead, to transfer his sculptural mindset to a two-dimensional plane.
Streaking the air and the walls, Iran and Sandback’s pieces enter the immateriality field, transcending the frailty of its materials and making the light and the space between lines into elements of high visual solidity. Engaging in an installation-like situation at Carpintaria’s space, the duo’s pieces not only forge an active correspondence, but also establish a state of positive contamination between them. Historical circumstances and time gaps apart, here is a meeting of two art practices that converge into the delicate area of conceptual precision, technical meticulousness and formal accuracy.