Love for the little one
“Its smallness is, at the same time, a whole and a fragment.
Love for the little one is a childish emotion”
Marcel Duchamp imagined by Enrique Vila Matas
Small paintings have a rich and celebrated past, averse to the grandiose visual statement in favor of a more domestic and localized reading. The minor seduces us for many reasons, among them the possibility of imagining that we are dealing with something disconnected from the main lines of common sense – the small as an antagonist of the majority, the opposite of what nourishes an opinion around a certain centrality recognized as evident.
But the minimal scale allows, above all, the easy circulation of objects, and portability as a promise of autonomy is something that crosses the history of creative production. Back in the beginning of men, the Paleolithic already carried the little terracotta venuzas from one side to the other, worshiping curves and desires. A lot could fit on this list: the Amazonian muiraquitãs, the Japanese netsukes, the Bolivian islands, the candomblé guides, the Catholic scapular, the Roman figa, the Islamic hamsa, the photo of the loved one in the wallet…. The little one makes us company, leaves us less alone.
In addition, the little demands a certain degree of intimacy, making us bring the body closer to the object, bring the eye closer, bend the spine and maybe sniff out a leftover scent of matter given to the field of vision. Small works invite audiences to abandon the sometimes fast and sweeping visual experience of the larger canvas for a more nuanced and measured vision. Acute vision replaces “peripheral” in the promise of more active involvement. In other words, it is often with small paintings that we experience a “body to body”, accompanied by the strange and seductive sensation that we are facing simple whispered secrets.
The small format also allows, in some cases, greater detachment and surrender to experimentation. On visits to the studios, it is not uncommon to come across miniatures that point to new chapters to come, like small cracks produced in the lexicon of artists. Unlike larger formats, the small one invites the hand to exercise error, that is, to trace and envision new paths within the research; it is the small as a sketch and a project, an authorized bet on the unknown. In another way, such freedom also brings us closer to children’s playfulness, connecting us to the imagination of toys, doll houses and small pieces of board games, and which, in turn, mentions everything that does not necessarily want to be official, passing unnoticed among suitcases, pockets, wallets, boxes, bottles overboard, messenger crows and carrier pigeons.
But there are few or no rules here – let us remember that something fundamental to contemporary artistic practices is precisely their impropriety and, therefore, it is up to us the sensitivity to dispute the improper in the transit between the collective and the particular, without further generalizations. If there are those who find the invitation to wander in the small, there are also, in the opposite way, those who assume such a format as a territory to exercise detail with even more fullness, controlling the path of each brush wire over the surface. Hence, we are not talking about the loose hand of the propositional draft, but the hand that cuts the jewel: the surgical hand.
Another confusion that must be cleared up is that the short form is, consequently, a synthetic form. In the visual field, there are small works that carry with them “immense cosmologies, sagas and epics enclosed in the dimensions of an epigram”, borrowing some words from Italo Calvino. The minimum also knows how to be noisy and ambitious, when it suits him. José Paulo Paes said that Manuel Bandeira was a “minor minorminorminorminor” poet. These little paintings that we see here are, in their own way, expansive and cosmic.
Finally, it is inevitable to recognize that the set that we present in this show inhabits, above all, a house, thus reinforcing the invitation to the domestic. When auroras was founded as an art space six years ago, it was with a group exhibition of “Small Paintings” that it all started. We follow exactly the same principle here. There are no narrative or thematic resources that justify the approximation of all these names. What unites them, what unites us, is the love for the little one, the desire to play with him and observe how many infinities fit in each of these fragments. We divided the set into two acts and we hope that the public can sew their own path, bumping into these strange little creatures from room to room. I reinforce that the small, in his intimacy, is what makes company possible – he often asks us for neighborhoods and groupings, the practice of being together. Here, in large numbers, the small paintings are a population of species still unknown to us, at the same time strange and nesting the house.