Luiz Zerbini´s new exhibition at Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel | Galpão features prints for the first time in his long career. Monotypes is the result of the artist’s immersion in such universe together with the printer João Sánchez. They left Rio de Janeiro in a truck towards Inhotim carrying a printing press. Once there, they searched for rare species that would serve as matrices for these pieces at the Botanical Gardens.
In his past ventures into printing, Zerbini never felt satisfied with the result. The pieces seemed adaptations of his paintings and this lack of autonomy bothered him. However, while developing his book Minhas Impressões (UQ! Editions, 2016) his relationship with the technique changed. The monotypes with plants come across as a subversion of such technique: a direct printing in which the plant species are used as matrices to the very images.
The compositions favor the contours and textures of each species in a reduced palette of browns, greens and blacks. The species fill up the paper – always vertically – in different movements. The distinctive Costela de Adão [Swiss cheese plant] is shown whole, frontally, as if in a close-up portrait. Ipê [Ipe] in turn, is deconstructed in positive and negative fragments that overlap in a grey cloud. Other pieces refer to images from the history of art. Embaúba [Cecropia] with a dry cut and high contrast, reminds us of Andy Warhol´s flowers and Jardim Japonês [Japanese Garden] aspires to different times and states of contemplation. If this technique emerges as a novelty, the tropical flora highly popular in his paintings reemerges as a central theme. The pieces reveal a sort of simplicity that only a long time of observation can provide. There is an evident and incessant exchange between the artist’s eye and these plants.
Luiz Zerbini was born in 1959, in São Paulo, but has been living and working in Rio de Janeiro since 1982. Among his recent exhibitions, the following solo shows stand out: amor lugar comum, Inhotim (Brumadinho, 2013 – present); Pinturas, Casa Daros (Rio de Janeiro, 2014); Amor, MAM (Rio de Janeiro, 2012). His work can be seen in different public collections, such as Inhotim (Brumadinho), Instituto Itaú Cultural (São Paulo), MAM Rio de Janeiro, MAM São Paulo, among others.
I’ve been wearing the same pants for three days. I was walking in the woods moments ago, before boarding this plane back to Rio. I was behind the botanical highlights that were introduced to me as stars. Botanical stars. Now just stars for me.
Thinking about the colors, I concluded that green is a kind of gray. When the forest covers the earth with green, it spreads a warm chromatic neutrality where animals, flowers, and fruits pop up shimmering as stars on a moonless night.
João and I left for Inhotim with the new press in the truck. Capable of printing on 42″ x 32″ paper. We went on looking for the largest and most beautiful leaves in the Botanical Garden. For a week we worked with exhaustive bliss in the linotypes that illustrate this book. We harvested the leaves and flowers with the help of gardeners in the early morning, we filled the cart and headed to the warehouse where we installed the press. If it were for me, I would subject the whole world to the press. João would tell me what was achievable and how we would do it. The matrices were leaves, fruits, barks, and thorns. They were printed by us directly on paper.
* Text originally published on the book “Artenatureza: Inhotim espaço tempo”. Instituto Inhotim, 2016.