“Engraving is not a technique, it’s a language
Contemporaneousness eliminated the rigid frontiers between fields of knowledge a long time ago. In art, the sampling of content and the creative processes is even more evident. The more the image assumes the first plane of information, the more we observe how much the historically expandable territory of engraving amplifies its powers. Thereza Salazar explores with competence and precision a graphic environment of nature not only ambiguous and intriguing in materials, processes and supports, but also in the thematic, constructing over and under the enchanting content of myth and mythical figures. Myth is understood here to be the construction of culture and thus, the key to perceiving the elements that fill the stuffing and determine characteristics, semblances and mirroring of what is called real experience
In this individual showing, the artist focuses on personalities from fable and circus. From the moment of entering the exhibition, starting with the wall on the right, it is possible to observe a visual synthesis of the entire atmosphere of the showing; o Malabarista (The Juggler). With two feet on each leg and four arms, he is a radicalisation of the weirdness that can be traced to the world of the circus in the 19th century, when freaks with their congenital malformations and corporal deformities caused by diseases, were sought-after popular attractions, the most famous of whom were those who most diverged from the established norms of textbook human anatomy
The Juggler uses as his props bodies of animals, people and fabulous creatures, all silhouettes. The silhouette is one of the most ancient elements of representation and ultimately functioned as a portrait before the invention of photography. It is cultural code. From there, the good symbolic muscularity of the work: The Juggler can be culture itself or a metalinguistic operation placing the action of the artist in the context of the culture, being transformed (or deformed?) while manipulating concepts. Body as culture. Art as the producer of the body of culture.In the end, as Thereza observed, “a body has its physical-chemical nature and its socio-linguistic nature. A body is always imaginary, because it is inserted in the field of language”
There is in every exhibition, in equal and ironic measure, sweet and sour visual syntheses made not only from material derived from dreams, but also from nightmares. A perverse world emerges from imaginary crevices, helping to shine light on its nature. Nothing resists the dissecting scalpel. It was not by chance that the artist uses a scalpel to cutout her figures. Her production is grazed by a charm/non-charm, almost like that which occurs when a child resolves to eviscerate a doll or to take a toy apart to see how it works. There is a loss and a destruction that precedes perception
Some time ago Thereza began utilizing fantastic beings and persons from fables to arm her works. With special focus on animals. These, since Aesop and La Fontaine, are used not only to demonstrate codes of behaviour, but also to create climates of terror in infantile literature, that we have inherited over many centuries. The reflection of the artist on the predatory nature of the human species became very evident in 2008, when she created outlines in wood of silhouettes of animals hunting and killing their inferiors on the food chain: the eagle capturing the serpent, the wolf devouring the bird, etc…. Is there any doubt as to whether this circuit of signs adapts to the perfection of our urban jungle and the hunting territories of offices and other places of dispute of spoils and bloody trophies?
It is valuable to remember that a good part of the impossible anatomies of mythical beasts that we know from literature was immortalised in engravings and that these appeared especially to exorcise the mysterious. They arose mainly during the period of the great maritime discoveries of the 16th century, when unknown continents were also spaces for the imagination to unbind itself through exotic inventions.
Graphic thought enlivens all the pieces of the exhibition and leaps high, in relief, in the Aventura dos Corpos (Bodily Adventure) series, wooden cut-outs that bring to mind the circus not only as a stage of unpretentious and pleasurable spectacles, but also (if we observe from the wings)* the traps of thread that determine the action of persons to establish the direction of their endeavours. A result of movements that appear to be a decoupage and a sum of all the losses, contusions and fractures that exist in the lead up to a beautiful leap on the trapeze, for example. Or in existence, if you prefer the metaphor.
Just like in the traditional process to engrave an image in wood (woodcut), Thereza excavated deeply in the thematic of the circus. She searched not only for the enchanting answer but also for the extenuating and sacrificial that involves it. Without failing to revere, as she always does in her works, the ancestral fascination of myth, framework of the civilizational project. It is in the myth, as the artist observes so well in the Sortilégios (Magic Spells) series, that the human being seeks to measure herself, to check the height and spread of her dreams.
The chimera, mythical animal and synthesis of various species, is also synonymous with utopia. In fact, when the heroic dimension and the utopias run out of space, it is irony and the cold dissection of the material of our dreams that can point out to us the territory of the possible. Thereza Salazar helps us to reflect upon these harsh pathways.
Angélica de Moraes
(ou 5 notas sobre Atopias), Adolfo Montejo Navas