PRAYER TO A WORLD WHICH, BECAUSE IT CANNOT BE RESTORED, MAY AWAKEN AS MEMORY

In opposition to his most recent, luminous, monumental canvases (still in his studio), with their synthesis of the experiment developing at both poles of Vergara’s work during the last years, the ones currently before us represent a passage or middle road. Therefore, the center cannot be the wise, pusillanimous flight from the abyss and extremes, but the necessary point towards an uncharted goal, one invented during the course itself. This a posteriori vision of the creative process always bears a trace of simplification, an ease which, when observed from a distance, draws upon the map the trajectory of an adventure which never took place.

What has been added and transformed in this group of canvases to make them different from the earlier, lengthy series of pigments imprinted in natura, occasionally subject to chromatic interventions in tones of blue, yellow or bright red, in strong opposition to the somber, burnt earth tones of the walls of the small pigment factory in the hinterlands of Minas Gerais?

It is not an open series, but a closed a set, a totality which differs from the preceding one, seeking to present itself all at once – beginning, middle and end. Earlier, we found ourselves before successive moments of an identical process whose limits can only now be defined. They come together in a small collection, seeking more systematic structure and another treatment of light or, rather, another dialogue with light.

This more evident internal organization does not constrain the presence of the entire previous process because it manifests itself through the artifice of juxtaposition of an element foreign to the pictorial surface. Let us say that the constructive will did not violate the elements which evoked the primitive manifestation of the gesture of impression of the marks of the pigments. To construct this architecture, the circle and the ellipse, elements of sculpture appear in all the pieces as an unchanging structure of the whole group. They develop the work, affording it spatial existence while paradoxically denying it volume, as if insisting on the memory of its origin – the canvases. Besides supporting the idea of interdependence among the various pieces, this helps to subtly highlight their differences.

But there is an additional twist in this painting, an additional problem in the opposition between opacity and transparency, between the thickness of the pictorial layers – its attributes of absorption of light through the earth as distributed in markings, quasi-icons of the various imprints – and the support.

One day in its history, painting moved away from walls onto wood and, later, onto canvas. Beyond its technical and social aspects, this victory contributed to changes of language and even to the acceleration of productive processes, with consequences for all pictorial philosophy which came after its introduction. In a mirror game with the elements of history, Vergara inverts this dimension, bringing to the canvases – support par excellence since the Renaissance – the marks of an ancestral support, the wall. These elements were already present in all the previous series. Now, though, the opposition materializes more obviously in the contrast between the opacity of the printed surface and the light which pierces the semi-transparency of the canvases. Without conventional chassis, they are being exhibited with vertebrae exposed, circles and ellipses opposing the square format. They take on a sort of fragility constructed so as to provide enlightenment to the praise of wall and pigment.

These are the walls of a cloister torn asunder by the secularization of life and the degradation of activities which demand dexterity. Whether hanging in a chapel or in a room, they require a silence which is not ceremonial but prayerful – prayer for a world which, because it cannot be restored, may dawn as memory.

Paulo Sergio Duarte - Rio de Janeiro, May, 1993

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