Opening on June 3, a selection of mostly unseen drawings, paintings, photographs, graphic design pieces, videos, and objects created between 1981 and 1996 will build connections with the present by revisiting past decades, with curation by Marta Mestre.
Devised non-chronologically from extensive, widely unseen output by Ricardo Basbaum and focusing primarily on some of the more substantial strands of his 80s and early 90s work, such as a series of paintings and experiments in public spaces (1985-87), the “Cabelo” series (1985-86), the “Olho” project (1984-1990), and the project “NBP – Novas Bases para a Personalidade” (New Bases for Personality, initiated in 1989-90), the exhibition Ricardo Basbaum: corte-contaminação-contato will open on June 3 at Galeria Jaqueline Martins, in São Paulo, with curation by Marta Mestre.
“The show evidences the need to revise established accounts about art from the 1980s and 1990s, through a body of work that’s open to a constellation of cross-references, and broadens the Brazilian art world’s connections with the international context: from the work of Antoni Muntadas in public spaces to do-it-yourself (DIY) aesthetics, from Wlademir Dias Pino’s process-poems to Julio Plaza’s use of new supports and media, from Barbara Kruger’s slogans to Hélio Oiticica’s and Lygia Clark’s ideas about participation, etc.,” says Marta.
Spanning the gallery’s two floors, the exhibit encompasses the artist’s impasses and creative fluctuations, as well as his more consolidated projects, with special emphasis placed on the idea of “series,” which Basbaum employs to create sequences at once visual and discourse-oriented, and often prone to “contamination” or even “viralization” – a concept forged by the media culture of those years that immediately preceded the digital revolution that would ensue.
Featured on the first floor is arguably a guide for reading the artist’s lexicon. The drawings, sketches, books, annotations, documentation, texts, flyers, etc. laid out on work desks provide a window into the creation and thought processes of Ricardo Basbaum.
Gathered here are some of his “earliest writings,” as well as the conceptual landmarks of his “invention as an artist,” at once artistic and discourse-based, enabling an understanding of the lines of work he embraced as he grew critically further from the typical 1980s return to painting, proposing new meanings for art as an emotional and sensory experience of sociability and language – a work territory the artist delved further into as his oeuvre unfolded until today.
On the gallery’s second floor are three sections matching the three stages named in the exhibition title: “cut,” “contamination,” and “contact.” An early set of paintings from 1985 and one “installation/painting” (Raio-X series), from 1987, dominated by Pop symbols in primary colors against black or grey backgrounds, evidence a “graphic drive” built upon diagram-like lines and a media imaginary which, halfway into the following decade, would give rise to the long-term series project Diagramas.
Recently, these Diagramas were the subject of mid-career show at Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (2013, Santiago de Compostela, Spain) and released in book form by publisher Errant Bodie Press (2016, Berlin, Germany): Ricardo Basbaum: Diagrams, 1994 – ongoing.
A second section comprises a set of photographs – the Corte de Cabelo series, from 1985/86 – which evince the artist’s own body. The stages of a haircut and a situation where Ricardo Basbaum appears dressed in drag, like an Eastern-cum-comic book character, point out paths to “deconstructing” identities and cultural referents. The Corte de Cabelo series, from 1985/86, marks his transition from painting experiments and mass media interventions (by the Dupla Especializada duo) to the “Olho” project – a “viral” brand logo created by the artist in 1984, an omnipresent, contaminating element in postcards, stickers, videos, calendars, flyers, etc.
This section features a new diagram created especially for the exhibition, mediating images and words with a new connectivity tool that ties together the artist’s output from the 80s until this day. “This new diagram points to some interrelations between different stages of my work, updating them through the main lines of force that inform my practice today. I strive to show an artist’s practice organized through interest-generating nuclei which are at once visual and discourse-based, and which acquire greater density and thickness as they distribute themselves in contact with their reception, exploring regions of repetition and orality,” explains Basbaum.
Also featured is the first NBP capsule, dating from 1993: a body-sized sculptural object designed for participative use, which paves the way for the architectural-sculptural projects that Basbaum would resume from the 2000s onwards, and belonging to the series that was acquired by the Tate Collection and shown in the opening of the New Tate Modern in London, 2016.
Ricardo Basbaum (1961) has been in the artist roster of gallery Jaqueline Martins since 2016, joining the likes of Stuart Brisley, Hudinilson Jr, and the 3Nós3 collective, among others.
Galeria Jaqueline Martins (press release)