Fortes D’ Aloia & Gabriel is pleased to present an exhibition of iconic artworks from the 1990s by São Paulo artist Luiz Zerbini. The second gallery at Galpão hosts four pieces that share a remarkable personal narrative and explore the concept of self-portrait, a classical genre from the history of painting.
As he delves deep into the theme, Zerbini seeks to bring something that utterly represents the sitter, though not necessarily in a hyper-realistic style. In this context, the skull is a recurrent way to picture others and himself, a direct reference to memento mori, another iconic concept whose Latin adage stands for something like “remember you are mortal.” For instance, Eu e a brisa (1997) and Iai Brother (1997) each feature a skeleton that stares back at the viewers.
The artist also dialogues with the landscape, a connection that becomes evident in Brasil Colônia (1993). The 20 ft wide canvas reveals Zerbini’s routine during a trip to the Art Cologne, in Germany, marking a turning point in his career. The title is a pun that echoes his feelings during his first visit to an international art fair. In the days he was in town, the artist established a routine of long walks and visits to museums. He then used the photos he took to reconstruct the landscape displayed, combining aspects from his daily routine that now gain a historical bias.
Those portraits and the figurative paintings presenting narratives of daily life have since developed into intense, highly saturated figurative paintings. The works were shown in recent exhibitions – Amor (MAM, Rio de Janeiro, 2012), Amor lugar comum (Inhotim, 2013-2018), and his solo presentation in the group exhibition Nous les Arbres (Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 2019). Self-portraiture, which is the primary focus of the current exhibition, remains a recurrent element in the work of Zerbini. Suicida alto astral (2006) and Pau D’água (2019) are examples of more recent paintings where traces of the artist’s body appear among geometric compositions.
Luiz Zerbini (São Paulo, 1959) Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. Recent important exhibitions include Fire, Stephen Friedman Gallery (London, 2021); Nous les Arbres, at Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Paris, 2019); Intuitive Ratio, South London Gallery (2018); Southern Geometries, from Mexico to Patagonia (2018), at Fondation Cartier Pour L’Art Contemporain in Paris; Amor lugar comum, Inhotim (2013-2018); Amor, MAM Rio de Janeiro (2012).