A Beautiful Image
05 June 2021 – 17 July 2021
Critical text by Ulisses Carrilho
Kogan Amaro Gallery Sao Paulo
Alameda Franca, 1054
Jardim Paulista, São Paulo, SP
Smile at least / You can’t say no to the Beauty and the Beast
Words or images are always a taunt. The unconscious never ceases to self-inscribe: what’s fabled and imagined emerge at every leap taken by the individual. Conversely, reality doesn’t allow itself to be inscribed – it sneaks out, escapes and comes about in the world. It’s conspicuous in material life, turning up as a perceived phenomenon. Among the tokens employed by Bruno Miguel in his paintings and the abundance of color, paint and objects on the surface of his canvases, there’s also a double incidence: we flagrantly recognize an artist who presents hypotheses to the history of painting and, at the same time, an image regimen that doesn’t just develop around the art object, but on the expanded field of visualities. Borrowed from the inscription in the painting at the entrance of the exhibition, the title of the show, makes this connection clear: let’s talk about image.
Although in his work the artist roams around biographical references, there’s no memorial intention to it, since it doesn’t result from a desire of reflecting upon an individual’s private world. It seems to elicit the fact that the very primal matter of art is formed on a leap taken from a created image to a perceived one. Bruno Miguel has been a teacher at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage for over a decade, and his interest in creating a poetic research that explores the development of a certain view is notorious: the artist seeks to refine a sensibility towards ready-made images. On another occasion, it would be interesting to examine this hypothesis in view of his series “Marina Helps Bruno”, which deserves attention and an opportunity of being displayed, since it brings up an urgent issue that resets not only the idea of function in art, but also the controversial concept of quality. In the face of a society corrupted by overabundance, saturation, spectacle and by the exclusionary and elitist idea of a “good taste” a priori, would the visualities unrefined by the art system deserve the slightest chance of research?
The will to address a world that is foreign to him is remarkable in the artist’s rhetoric: the images that surround him, images of objects he collects, but are ingrained in his body. Such images are convened by the artist from a mere interest on representing them on pictorial grounds. Through painting, Bruno Miguel explores the images of a world damaged by disintegration; accelerated by entertainment; deceived by the promise of globalization.
Many of the objects embedded in the layers of paint on canvas and in the resins that allude to various designs of bubble wrap are consumer objects: patches indiscriminately bought in bulk from shopping platforms on the web. Used in the military for warfare purposes since the 1800s in England, patches started getting popular in the 1930s, as a way to identify armies and ranks – issues related to a sense of belonging. In the late 1950s and the early 1960s, they were taken on by “rebel teenagers” in the wake of the MOD scene, originated in London, England. The symbol chosen by the mods, a target, has its origins in a symbol used in RAF airplanes, air service branch of the UK armed forces in World War II. And, thus, they were included in the rock n’ roll dress code, through which they were disseminated into pop culture. Patches soon became a conduit for expressing ideas, political views and love for certain bands. These small objects are a sort of culturally operated crest, creating a sense of belonging and designating or confronting identifications. Such icons are a fundamental part of the works displayed in the show.
In Susan Sontag’s essay “One Culture and the New Sensibility”, from her book “Against Interpretation”, I find a reflection upon the profusion of these so-called simultaneous paths that give substance to Bruno Miguel’s paintings. Art is understood as an instrument for modifying consciousness and organizing new modes of sensibility. According to the author, we’d experience a suffocating pressure for interpretation that annihilates our sensibility through a causal, logical, reactionary and interpretative perspective of the world. This scientistic idea, according to some of Sontag’s hypotheses, has seized the artistic-literary field in modern times. How to resist logic and just trust what one feels when faced with stimulus? Is it possible get over the concept of taste and enjoy what is seen, perceived and felt by the body?
In the series of paintings here displayed, the artist shows color fields with plenty of references to a world which, although not foreign to art, is often underrated by artists on behalf of a so-called sophistication and intellectual refinement. Fortunately, Bruno Miguel’s painting insubordinately resist this idea, preparing the ground for devising other scenarios, previously suggested by culture theorists: the idea of a more generous culture, imbued with complexity, and barely binary. The many displays of color and shape erupt from the canvas with no intention of confirming tradition, but to update the issues formulated then. However, it’s not like his artistic strategies distrust painting. Instead, the artist ostensibly trusts this procedure.
No wonder this essay starts with the inscription and irruption of the uninscribable. With the inscriptions painted by the artist, he creates images. Words are displayed as visual elements which fundamentally integrate the works’ layout. In the 1960s, Sontag collaborated to the realization that art created back then employed elements produced by consumer society not as a result of visual interest, but mainly to create the opportunity for us viewers to reset our own preconceived criteria on what could and couldn’t be regarded as art. There’s no other way to end this essay: what is a beautiful image?
Learn more about the artist
Rio de Janeiro, 1981
Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro
Bruno develops since 2004 his research around the construction and representation of landscape in contemporaneity, active in several languages, he chooses painting as the main theme of his obsessive production routine. In recent years, questions about landscape have begun to give way to a greater investigation of painting as a language and its interfaces in contemporary everyday life. But above any rhetoric Bruno may develop to justify his choices, the real strength of his research lies in the work. Not in the work itself, but in the toil of the studio, where his curiosity and restlessness keep his painting in transformation. Where his compulsions seek anxious mistakes for unpredictable solutions, so generous that they hide behind the banal dazzle of easy images. His research is a kind of peripheral post-pop, always relating high and low culture. A vulgar and exuberant makeup that superficially disguises his condition of eternal search for beauty. Not of painting, but of painting.