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The Drawing Center's

A driann e C al l i n ari \7all Drawings

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rt Ad rianne Callina ri Wall Drawings

The Drawiog

Centerts Dna.*/rNc Roou

November21-December20. 2000

40 lvooster streer


A d r i a n n eGa llin a r i' sWa ll Dr a win g s A writer of imagesand a drawer of words, Adrianne Gallinari composesvisual poems that defi. easy legibiliry. Applying black crayon directly to the wall, and sometimesto the floor and ceiling, she enactsa drawing performancethat engulfs the viewer. Her installationsare comprisedof an expressive massof words intermixed with groups of human figures-most often suggestedthrough simple contour-inscribed on the wall with strong gesturalmarks. From cacophonyto silence,there is a visual rhythm in place betweenthick and thin lines, betweenfigures that are scratchedinto the wall and ones that appearto hang from the background.Likewise,imagesmove back-and-forth betweenthe seemingly naiVely rendered (recalling cave paintings and childrent drawings) and carefully depicted details that, in their exactness,expand suggestedmeanings:recurring figures drawn within whirlpools indicate either the longing for an alternativeworld, or the spinning sensationof vertigo. The visual directnessand simplicity of the words recall the surrealists'automatic drawings and the anti-art concepts of Art Brut-modernist impulsesthat were strongly inspired by diverseforms of "primal" drawing. Yet further observationsuggestsothe! more elusive,conceptsrelatedto existentialconcerns, including the fragility of life, love, and the trials of communication. Gallinari was born in 1965 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and currently lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she moved in order to participate in a residencyprogram overseenby the artist Guillermo Kuitca. lVhile Gallinari may presentlyresideoutside of her native country, she remains closelytied to important twentieth-century figures that shapedits art history. A closerlook at the work of Brazilian artists of precedinggenerationsprovides a context for Gallinarit practice, especiallyif we situate it in relation to the late 1950s neoconcreteworks of Hdlio Oiticica (19371980), the 1960sdrawingsof Mira Schendel(1919-1988),and the obsessively sewnfabric works of A r t hur B i s p od o R o s d ri o(1 9 1 1 -1 9 8 9).' Despite its short life, the resonanceof the neoconcretemovement, formed in Rio de Janeiro between 1959 and 1961, was enormous. Involving both poets and visual artists, it "simultaneouslymarked the apogeeof a constructivementality in Brazil along with its explosion."'Artists set forth experimental proposalsthat avoided the material consumption of art as a marketableproduct and involved the spectator'sbody. They sought to "establisha dialogue benveenart and the public by incorporating the space-timeof lived experienceand by transposingthe object and the pictorial plane into the social world."3 These premisesinformed the seminal works from the 1960s of the movementt most well-known figures Oiticica andLygia Clark (1920-1988), both of whom sought to shift the emphasis of artistic production from the art object to the viewer'sexperienceand participation.aGallinari's drawings, informed by this important legacyof experimentation,are perhapsmost closelyrelatedto the mechanismspresentin Oiticicat Metaesquemas of 1957-58, abstractgouachedrawings in which the structuresof geometric abstractioncentral to the earlier formalist concretemovement break apart. Oiticica describedtheseworks as "structuresthat are born without continuiry nor beginning re-beginning."t Gallinarik drawings presenta different take on this structural suspension;her complex compositions refer to purposefully jeopardizedlinguistic structuresand to the ambiguous relationship between the figures xnd 1sx65-in some casesthe figures seemto accompanythe text, in others to float in-between-increasing the effect of a "hovering" meaning. The emphatic rendering of Gallinari's work is far from the extremedelicacyof Schendelt minimal/conceptual drawings. However, her practice does relate to Schendel'sMonotipiasfrom the l. \X/hen asked about other anists that she feels related to, Gallinari mentions the BraziliansAlfredo Volpi and the Alei.jadinho, and such varied international figures as Saul Steinberg,Alexander Calder, and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as the drawings ofJoseph Beuys and Henri Matrsse. 2. Ronaldo Brito, Neoconcretismo: Wrtice e Ruptura do Pajecto ConstructiuoBrasikiro (Rio de Janeiro: Funarte/lnstituto Nacional de Arres Pllsticas, 1 9 8 5 ),4 4. 3. Rina Carvajal, "The Experimental Exerciseof Freedom," in The ExperimentalExerciseof Freedom(Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999), 39. 4, Rina Carvajal describesthe way in which Oiticica's work "was influenced by geometric abstraction and by the quest to rupture traditional notions of the pictorial plane. He was particularly inrerestedin transporting color and form out of the medium of painting, thereby giving rhem corporeality and structure and integrating them into the space-timeof the spectator,who would then live the experiencethrough his or her body and senses."(lbid.,40) Oiticica's works include, for instance, the numerous Parangobs(7964-1974), whlch he defined as a structure-color, made of fabric, which could take the form of a cape, a banner, a tent, or resemblethe architecture of the fauelas(sltms), etc. When worn or used by the spectator,he or she would enact the artistic proposal, giving shapeand senseto the creativeact. In this way, the human senseswere conceived as able to generatea shifr in consciousnessabout the nature and place for arc in sociery. (1957158) rn Hilio Oiticica: Metaesquemas 5. Hdlio Oiticica refersto his neoconcreteworks Metaesquemas 57/58 (S5.oPaulo: Galeria Ralph Camargo, 1972). Republished h Hllio Oiticica (Rotterdam: Witte de With, center for contemporary art, 1992), 27 .

1960s,works that in some casesinclude linguistic components,such as letters or words, drawn againstthe void of an almost invisible Japaneserice paper. Schendelt works have been describedas presenting"a tensealternation berweentransparencyand opacity, betweenwhat permits and what impedesa reflectivestanceby the observer,"ua statementthat characterizesGallinari's practice as well. Yet, while Schendel'sexploration is intended to deconstructthe ideologicalelementsof languageand distill the gestureas the basic and elementalform of signifying,' Gallinari literally "incorporates"the various structuresoflanguage. She useswords, phrases,sentences,and their complex mechanismsof signification, to crearetension through an associationwith the figure that raisesquestions about lived experience. The emotional chargewith which Gallinari imbues her practice suggestsanother important Brazilian referencefor her art: the exquisitely-sewn"drawings" of Arthur Bispo do Rosdrio,a self-taughtartist who was diagnosedwith paranoid schizophreniaat the age of twenty-eight and spent most of his life secludedin the asylum Col6nia Juliano Moreira. Bispo used diversefound objects,such as shoes, and embroisheets,bottles, and hospital attire to createcaptivating sculptures,objects,assemblages, deries.His sewn works depict imaginary worlds, where figures and texts coexist,sometimesintermixed, sometimesdivided within distinct sections.W'ith an insistent interplay of words and images, Gallinarit wall drawings echo theseworks, assuaginga horror-vacui-or fear of the void.' These referencesto the work of other artists emphasizethe relationa/ascentral to Gallinarit practice, where the juxtaposition of text and image provokesa seriesof inter-relatedmeaningsin flux. It is interesting to note that Gallinarit words and phrases,for the most part in Portuguese(English and Spanishreferencesappearas well on occasion),exist on the borderline ofdecipherability. Even the Brazilian or Portugueseviewer, able to read some of the text, is forced to search through the drawings to createmeaning from what remains unspecified.Vithin this context, writing becomesdrawing, and vice versa.Like the imagery itself, phrasesare subject to repetition, superposition,and alteration. This purposeful obfuscation of languaget communicative function, together with the use of shifting metaphors, resultsin an enlargementof the poetic characterof the work. Similar to the mechanismsof the ideogram, sensearisesfrom the coming together of graphic components,and metaphorssurfacethrough signs that direct the viewer to an idea or thing rather than a word or of becomingher signs and phrase.In Gallinari's works, writing and drawing are set forth as processes symbols (figurative, abstract,and text-based)transform into charactersof an intimate and idiosyncraric personallanguagethat is in a continuously changing state.'When askedabout the relation of languageto image in her work, Gallinari stated: The text neither explains nor translates the image; it is aggregative, a parallel drawing.


live in

a culture that continuously mixes texts and images. The image adds to the word; the image underlines the word, and the word underlines the image. Texts wrap thoughts in images described in words. \Triting comes as a process of balancing the image-drawingt

pursuit as an extension of thought.'

What brings us to understand Gallinari's concept of "thought" are the specificsignifying details that the figures present (for instance,organs,such as the heart and lungs), which at moments are placed in relation to drawn referencesto space(a recedingcube, a tunnel, a whirlwind). This universeof figurative marks, which reappearsfrom drawing to drawing, suggestsa vocabulary of symbolic forms that leadsto an expansionof meanings.The veins and arteriesthat reach out of the figures,connecting one ro another, suggesta situation of extremesensitivity-of love, suffering, or sharing. Likewise, a figure emerging from a whirlpool could signify birth and purification or, conversely,death and mutilation. Gallinari createsworlds of marks-written dioramas-where scenariosin flux convey the poetic power of drawing. Victoria Noorthoorn

6. S6nia Salzstein,"Resisting the Present" in Mira Schendel:A Forma Voldtil (No de Janeiro: Centro de Arte Hdlio Oiricica, 1.997), 68. 7. S6nia Salzstein,"Mira Schendel:The Immersion of the Body in Thotghr" h The ExperimentalExerciseofFreed.oz,ed. Rina Carva.jal(Los Angeles: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1999), 215. 8. It is interesting to note that fabric, one of the main supports for Bispot works, is also the other main support for Gallinarit drawings. 9. E-mail exchangebeveen the author and Gallinari, July 2, 2000.

The Drawing Center is the only not-for-profit institution in the country to focus solely on the exhibition of drawings, both contemporary and historic. It was establishedin 1976 to provide opportunities for emerging and under-recognized artists; to demonstrate the significance of drawings throughout history; and to stimulate public dialogue on issuesof art and culture. This is number 15 of the Drawing Papars,a seriesof publications documenting The Drawing Center's exhibitions and public programs and providing a forum for the study of drawing. The Drawing Paperspublication seriesis printed on Monadnock Dulcet 100# Smooth Text and 80# Dulcet Smooth Cover. Support for this proiect has been provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation New York, and Alberto Sendros Janrez, Buenos Aires, Argentina"

Board of Directors Dita Amory George Negroponte Co-Chairmen FrancesBeatry Adler JamesM. Clark, Jr. FrancesDittmer Colin Eisler Elizabeth Factor Bruce'W. Ferguson Michael Iovenko 'Werner H. Kramarsky Abby Leigh Villiam S. Lieberman Michael Lynne Elizabeth Rohatyn* Eric C. Rudin Dr. Allen Lee Sessoms Jeanne C. Thayer* Edward H. Tirck Andrea'Woodner Catherine de Zegher Executiae Director *Emerita

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All works in this publication are: Untitled, zooo Crayon on paper Collection of the artist

for the Visual Arts,




Adrianne Gallinari: Wall Drawings