"Eu tenho que ver a paisagem, as coisas. Se não vejo, não pinto."
Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato, when commenting on his creative process, states, "I have to see the landscape, the things. If I don't see, I don't paint." And the artist, by the way, has seen a lot: he was born and died almost at the same time as the 20th century. The transit he experienced between Brazil and Italy allowed him to follow both the construction of a new capital city – Belo Horizonte –and the reconstruction of devastated cities – such as the post-war Arsiero, where he worked from1920 to 1924. Lorenzato's body of work, however, does not necessarily focus on the rise of the industrial metropolis or the great struggles of civilization. Although he has followed significant historical events, the artist decided to dedicate his paintings to simple themes depicted with originality and vigor. Thus, as we can notice in the approximately 35 paintings selected for Lorenzato: Landscapes, his vocabulary consists of sunsets, lakes, mountains, façades, trees, rivers, still lifes, and related subjects.
Among the landscapes he painted, it is possible to notice variations between figurative and narrative pieces and works in which the figures are somewhat diffuse, emphasizing the interplay between shapes and colors, in a move towards abstraction. In addition, many façades transport us to the outlying areas of Belo Horizonte, made up of houses that are both colorful and melancholic at once. Even in his untitled, most describable works, such as those showing coconut palms among lakes and mountains from 1972, canoeists and bathers among rivers and trees from 1977 and 1987, and butterflies among trees and bushes from 1977, although they feature recognizable figures and actions, they are not presented as accurate reproductions of a scene. To verify this, it is enough to observe the proportions of the elements portrayed, their contours and correspondences: here, all the vision is mediated by imagination.
Among the works in which the colors, textures and lines stand out, Represa de Furnas (1989) is a remarkable example. The contours and the blue of the Furnas hydroelectric lake prevail in the painting, between the green of the woods and the brown of the mountains, in a way that each color assumes a metonymic function in the composition. The way this landscape is portrayed – from above – recalls the cartographic register, at the same time that, if we compare the painting with the map of this area, we can see that it is not exactly a realistic representation of a stretch of the Rio Grande (the dammed river that forms the lake). What, after all, is not surprising, since we can perceive throughout Lorenzato's oeuvre the conjugation of both a contemplative interest and a non compromising attitude toward mimesis – perhaps it is this seeming contradiction that demonstrates how his declared admiration for the Impressionists has influenced him. A similar phenomenon can be observed in paintings like Crepuscolo (1986) and other unconventional sunset sand/or sunrises, in which the layers and sequences of colors contextualize the scene portrayed, as in the untitled paintings of 1972 and 1989.
When painting people and façades, he is interested in banal scenes and places that are not at all sumptuous: just a gathering of individuals in a bar; just the multiplication of little houses in pastel colors going up the hill. What is neither discreet nor trivial in Lorenzato’s works, however, are the reliefs and textures that he gives to the painting's surface – aesthetic features that evoke his work as a wall painter. For such effects, the artist employed unconventional painting tools, using forks and combs on the canvas or any other surface he could use to paint – since, as he used to say, he painted "anywhere: on paper, cement, glass, tile, canvas, cardboard, plywood, Chapatex Eucatex sheets, etc."
The exhibition will also provide the public with a contact with these utensils, which were crucial in Lorenzato's creative process. They showcase, by themselves, a remarkable power of expression, and today are part of the Museu do Cotidiano's collection, in Belo Horizonte. The rustic and non-obvious items in the scope of artistic painting call our attention: a small iron comb that Lorenzato himself molded; a kind of tiny rake (a tool used in gardening); sharp and pointed objects such as penknives; large and imperfect brushes – all these instruments refer to an appropriation by the artist of his experience as a wall painter. From this, we realize the rich intersection of his craft with his artistic persona, and how these two spheres of his life both dialogued and enriched his production.
It is interesting to think that Lorenzato saw the entire 20th century happen but chose to look at the common side (both in the sense of the banal and the shared element) of existence. It is as if, somehow, the scale of everyday experiences and the perennial aspect of nature could appease the barbarism that occurs in major disputes of narrative and power, this being the core of the biggest conflicts he has followed. After returning to Brazil in 1948, he increasingly engaged in his artistic creation, built his house in the Cabana neighborhood, on the periphery of Belo Horizonte, in 1960, and produced there a large number of pieces we know today. Often, a butterfly in his backyard was enough for a painting to be born – at other times, long walks nourished the eye of the walker-artist, who, like all great creators, perceived and transfigured in his own way the extraordinary of the everyday.
The progressive and legitimate appreciation of Lorenzato is strengthened at this moment: the publishing house Ubu is about to release an important monograph about the artist, edited by Rodrigo Moura. Gomide & Co, therefore, reinforces the esteem for his production, marked by the realization of one of Lorenzato's first solo shows in the city of São Paulo E você nem imagina que Epaminondas sou eu in 2014. Lorenzato: Landscapes is, in this way, the fruit of expressive research, which for 8 years sought to group a set of distinct and significant works within its pictorial vocabulary. A unique occasion to celebrate the genuine art of Amadeo Luciano Lorenzato.