My cat had been sick for a couple of weeks and my schedule was a mess. After a morning of intensive care for the sweetest twelve-years-old moggie, I arrived late to my meeting with Sandra Cinto at Galeria Casa Triângulo’s new exhibition space. She waited for me, chatting with the gallery staff and apparently not a bit upset with my delay. When I explained my domestic situation in an apologetic tone, she smiled and shared her own cat stories, in a lovely display of empathy—and a sincere one as, when we met again about a week later, the first question she uttered concerned my cat’s health.
This delicate woman with a soft, caring voice is without a doubt one of the strongest names in Brazilian contemporary art. For the last twenty-five years, she has been thoroughly developing a unique language within a career that holds no distinctions between art and life. Her latest solo show, “Chance and Necessity,” the inaugural exhibition at Casa Triângulo’s new location, celebrates her trajectory, which has been accompanied, in its full extent, by her friend and gallerist Ricardo Trevisan. “When Ricardo invited me to open the new space, I actually suggested a group show. After talking about it, though, I assumed this responsibility, much like a big sister,” says Cinto, who’s also the founder, with her husband, Albano Afonso, of Ateliê Fidalga. That initiative began as a studio in 1998 where the couple taught drawing and painting, but with time changed into a space for giving direction to projects. “Now, it is not even that. Albano and I are not teachers; we act as mediators in a horizontal debate between artists,” she explains. In 2012, when the couple moved to a larger studio, they kept the former space to create the Projeto Fidalga, which holds studio spaces, welcomes resident artists and hosts independent exhibitions, all without sponsors. “It’s much more about political will than money,” she explains.
Born in 1968, Sandra Cinto presented her first solo shows in 1992, in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Back then, she worked mainly with paintings of cloudy skies, but it didn’t take long before she would change her focus to drawing (considered by many art critics as her primary media). In 1998, when she participated in the famous 24th Bienal de São Paulo—the Anthropophagy Biennial, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and Paulo Herkenhoff—Cinto presented a major installation of drawings on walls, a dream-like landscape composed of trees, stacks of land, stairs and flying chandeliers. This research, which she had been developing for two years, included autobiographical elements and elliptic allusions to the human presence, which evoked comparisons to artists like René Magritte and Alberto da Veiga Guignard.
With time, these landscapes turned into the in-depth study of a single theme, continued by the artist from 2007 to 2015: the representation of vast tempestuous oceans. The elements that composed her previous works, like beds or references to childhood memories, gained three-dimensional space as sculptures and installations. At “Chance and Necessity,” a large object occupies the main exhibition room: a white, wavy Japanese-like bridge, with a horse swing on the one end and a swing chair on the other. “The bridge is a recurring element in my work, a symbolic object for transience, passage and connection,” she says. Here, the bridge links the two ends of life. “The swinging movement appears both in childhood as in advanced age, and, despite their differences, they are both joyful. The child swings with the life ahead of them, unconscious of future worries, and the elderly swings contemplating his past, knowing that most concerns are behind them.”
Two paintings of 750-by-300 centimeters and a few works on paper complete the show. These pieces inaugurate not only the space, but also a new phase in the work of Sandra Cinto who, after many years of graphically representing water, begins to use water itself as a material. Now, her small, delicate lines are a complement to a painting that embraces chance in the core of its making. After spending some months in Japan last year, just near the region where they grow the indigo blue plant, the artist learned traditional tinting processes and started working with Japanese paper. The drawing of waves gave space to blue areas created with the aid of a sprinkler and, of course, of gravity. After applying the blue on the canvas or paper, she draws the elements that will complete the landscapes—a monotonous and long process, that is not only an aesthetic choice, but also a political statement: “To make such tiny drawings is to act politically, is to refuse the craziness of our time that demands everything for yesterday. This work requires time to be made, and to be perceived,” she says.
Being the daughter of an iron worker, granddaughter of immigrants and a woman in a developing country have assured that social concerns are in her DNA: “I’m always concerned about the political content of my work, but the art that is only political gets small, a piece that is literally political gets dated,” she says. The utmost political power of art would be, then, to open new forms of perception, and ways of connection with the sublime.
At Casa Triângulo and many of her former installations, the minuteness of the drawings and the large dimensions of the works force the visitor to take time to assimilate the whole beauty and complexity of the works that stand before him. In an era where virtual images are often confused with experience, Sandra Cinto maintains the craft aspect of art, which is allied to deep conceptual and aesthetic concerns and is, by itself, an act of resistance. “My life is larger than this,” she said at one point, grabbing my mobile phone, which had been recording our interview, in her hands. And she’s right. Everyday, our time gets shorter and our screens get smaller, and most of society doesn’t take a second to reflect on it. Standing before one of her works is a poignant experience not only due to its beauty, but also because it allows our getting in contact with an alternative way of experiencing space and time, a way that requires an active and daily choice by the artist.
Through April 2, 2016
Galeria Casa Triângulo
Rua Estados Unidos 1324
Jardins, São Paulo