José Resende’s solo show opens Bergamin & Gomide’s second exhibition space, the house projected by artist and architect Flávio de Carvalho in 1933. Having exhibited at Galeria Bergamin in 2005, this is the first of Resende’s exhibitions at the gallery under the direction of Antonia Bergamin and Thiago Gomide. The exhibition contains two works that Resende produced for the occasion, one external, on one of the side walls, and another internal, occupying the central area of the house’s atrium – apart from a selection of works dating as far back as 1975. José Resende, who is himself an artist-architect, is interested in Flavio de Carvalho’s work for its originality within the construction of Brazil’s project of modernity. It is with this in mind that the two works shown here were conceived, following from Resende’s production, which carries out an intense dialog with urban space and architecture.
The work conceived by José Resende for the outside area of the house, according to Rosalind Krauss’ site specific concept, seeks to interpolate the other who circulates on the street, so that the construction, which thus far had been obliterated by the surrounding buildings, may stand out to the gaze, given its presence amid a banal landscape – that is to say, the work, once installed, brings a previously nonexistent particularity. Furthermore, the piece directs the pedestrian’s gaze upward, making the circular awning on the house’s rooftop area more noticeable. For Resende, this is an important element of the construction since it bounces off the form of the volume above it – which, in turn, bounces off the form of the steps on the ground level, in front of the doorway. Highlighting this displacement between planes also draws attention to the column which starts from the ground, crosses through the volume and supports the small circular awning on the rooftop.
The work inside the house is situated in its main room. Whoever walks in sees only a part of it – later, walking up the stairway to the upper level, it can be seen laterally. When walking along the narrow balustrade that circles the mezzanine, it is possible to regard it from a circular perspective in movement. Thus, seeing the work implies following a course through all the main spaces in the House. Resende seeks to emphasize to the spectator the intention of, through his intervention, proposing a way of roaming and perceiving this place. The choice for brass as the material of both works gives them a more sculptural connotation – distancing them from the repertoire of civil construction and allowing them to stand out and individualize in the context of the House.
José Resende’s works, while made from a number of different techniques and dimensions, bear common procedures that, as Rodrigo Naves remarks in his text Mágicos & Trapezistas (2021) , give direction to his production since the late 1970s. Among these is the notion of structural continuity between works, built in such a way that each of their parts appear as a whole, without evidencing the sections or collages of combined materials composing a single piece – which can be seen, for example, in his “linear sculptures”, from 1980: “It is possible to know that the copper and rubber tubes belong to larger units, which have been cut, interwoven, etc. The direction and bending of the two tubes with differing points of malleability produce, then, a magic trick: it becomes possible to bend a copper tube without denting it, as if it were made of rubber”, says Naves.
What interests José Resende is the establishment of an authentic experience with matter and the tensions created when distributing it in space, without imposing exterior symbols and significations. It is in this manner that the artist exercises that which Naves identifies, this time in a 1985 text, as a “blockade to the prolixity of expression” – his synthetic power is what takes his work to new distances. And to what distances! Boasting a notable resumé, Resende received in 1985 the prestigious Guggenheim Foundation scholarship, has exhibited many times at the São Paulo Biennial (9th, 17th, 20th and 24th), at the 11th Paris Biennial, where he received an honorable mention, at the 43rd Venice Biennial, at Documenta IX, at the 11th Sydney Biennial and in important national and international institutions throughout his more than 50 years of activity.
That being said, the encounter between José Resende’s work and the architecture of Flávio de Carvalho is an event that draws our attention to the most valuable legacy of the Brazilian modernist project, which extends and transforms through original artists who still find in it new directions and meanings. For José Resende, Flávio de Carvalho’s Vila Modernista configures the historical mark of a modern project that sought to establish a new man, something crucial to be remembered at this moment of political regression in the country. Thus, Resende’s works, in dialog with our past, remind us of a future, that future in which we believe.