From Concept to Drawing: MANIFEST

The drawing performance is the artist himself. He holds the lines directions, the fluidity of the ideas and the symbolic universe: in fact, the concept is born on him. First and last depositary of the experience he also needs his craft, its physicality, for it’s his meaning. Inalienable cerimony, the drawing consolidates the interior monument that is built in the very moment of the language humanizing concretion– it’s not the action of the insight instant, but the result of countless hours of work – essential for the creation of the moment.

The image manifestations of the moment allied to the propagation of recent interpretations about concept of mimesis and “representation” are producing a dialectic conjunction that demands a revision of the academic contents at the contemporaneity. As the act of thinking itself doesn´t come true without an object, we believe that the Visual Arts Academy can´t neglect the artistic practice on its field – I mean on its campi. Being updated with the current philosophies, though at odds with their own contextual reality will not give better subsidies for the understanding of the artist role in the contemporaneity – or the space of art – subjects deeply discussed in the Academy nowadays, but unfortunately confined to the theory field.

Lately, it seems that some facts have been deliberately disregarded  at the Academy, and some of their effects converge to a  single and same way. Before risking an analysis, we briefly introduce the subject of this manifest:

WE STRONGLY DEFEND THE APPLIED DISCIPLINES TEACHING (MEANT “ PRACTICAL”)ESTRUCTURES FOR THE DRAWING IN THE BOUNDS OF THE TRADITIONAL  ARTISTIC TECHNIQUES – AMONG THEM THE ARTISTIC DRAWING ITSELF; HUMAN FIGURE DRAWING; PAINTING IN ITS DIFFERENT MODALITIES; ENGRAVING AND ITS TRADITIONAL CATHEGORIES; SCULPTURE, CASTING AND THE BASES OF ITS  TRADITIONAL VARIATIONS; AND MOLDING – IN THE BACHELOR DEGREE COURSES OF VISUAL ARTS, WITH PROPER IMPORTANCE IN ORDER TO CAPACITATE THE STUDENT IN THESE  ABILITIES TURNING POSSIBLE AND ENSURING THE CONCRETION OF HIS PROFICIENCY AS AN ARTIST. THE APOSTASY OF TRADITION MADE BY THE MODERNIST ARTISTS AS AN INSURGENCY TO THE UNIFORMIZING ACTION OF THE TECHNIQUE SEEMS TO BE FORGOTTEN  IN THE NAME OF A GROWING THEORIZATION IN THE PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITY( AND IN THE ARTISTIC PRODUCTION AS A CONSEQUENCE) CAUSING NOWADAYS  THE DESEMPOWERMENT OF THE AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE IN THE ACADEMY AND PREVENTING THE PRESENT POETIC CREATION.

The absence substratum of the métier (the possession of certain characteristics that qualifies a professional) and the knowledge of the relations between technique and his object that ensures the constitution of  the language shortened the experimentation possibilities – and even those seemed to be depleted for long. The drawing matrix met in the country not long ago, led by the short  duration of the imperial academy, frankly depleted today, remains fragile and figures in the Brazilian universities as a Delenda Carthago. Tolerated at the academy, the drawing became a playful and free exercise.

The dialectic illation: “the applied techniques are slowing disappearing from the visual arts graduation  courses oriented by the academy theory (master degree, PhD, etc.).  It’s so visible this fact that a single testimony is enough to show it: the Brazilian artist Bandeira de Mello from Minas Gerais, in a retrospective documentary of his work lamented that as he was graduating at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, where he is a professor today, the curriculum for Human Figure Drawing had 900 hours (observing with scruples that it wouldn’t guarantee a good qualification for the student once finishing the course). Today, in the same institution those hours load dropped to 90 hours. The first step of this exclusion was to set the subjects structured by drawing into a second place, mainly Painting, Engraving, Sculpture, Human Figure Drawing and Anatomy, changing its statute in the curriculum as “optative subjects” (or elective) thus not obligatory – though little regimental changing it shows a very deep implication in the superior education. To make things worse, the exam of drawing (exams of “abilities” or specific knowledge) was removed from the admission tests for a lot of Brazilian universities – what means the lack of importance given to the technique in the academy. Getting rid of the maintenance of the practical knowledge, the academy grants the handcraft to private bounds – relegating the tradition to the market speculation. Another consequence of it is an irreconcilable parallel production with the academic field and turned into marginalization, what is happening for a long time. Finally, even after both the checkmate given by M. Duchamp and a century of questionings about the power of institutional legitimization of the academy, it is known the academy itself and nobody else, qualifies the artistic production.

Art, whose most meaningful transformations were due to the most radical efforts for the expression freedom, is at the academy, incorporated into a system. It became academic works for scores at the end of the period. The poiesis – which came out of the sensitive perception, from the timing that only to the artist is due in his craft of humanizing the world – it adapted itself to the delays of the public edictal supported by the fiscus renounce of large enterprises. This formal nature can’t be anything else than a sign of exhaustion. The poison arrived as an antidote: the Contemporary Hyper-Realism and the New Realism, and the powerful return to the painting. That was the answer, figurative, realistic and with reference to the tradition, for the crisis that in the beginning of the past century turned up from the questionings about realism and figuration through the rupture with the tradition we crossed the past decades over  a vacuum where a whole generation progressed without  noticing what was going on in art’s mainstream, except eventual scandals, reported as aberrations or curiosities. Fortunately, part of this generation kept drawing and painting in spite of that.

Refusing to teach drawing to the students but coercing them to produce conceptual woks (or modernist anachronisms, as we often see) the academy, in addition to fulfill the “doctrine of indoctrination”, constrange the spontaneity of poetic perception –source where the great artistic movements came from; restricts the experimentation which only the empiric activity is able to provide and the  substance we use to call “creativity”. Denying this way the expression of  personal voices when sifting  in his discursive filters the individual and subjective poesis. We revindicate the right of choice and the assurance that the graduate student knows how to move among different languages as well as aesthetic categories. As in this century of deconstruction of the philosophic “truths”, no one truth emerged from the ruins stating the absolute invalidity of representation, in fact it would be at least weird that a speech nullifies all other speeches. We don´t know any philosophy that subordinates expressive necessities of the artists to the subsumption of its categories. When it occurs it’s rather due to the ideological clipping of institutions that want to pass by edict  the waste heading of the  “new sensibilities” of a new world order (the old age “post-modern”…!). The most common is the restriction  the institutions  make in order to prove at any cost the existence of “new sensibilities” what, at first, is a  restrictive philosophical statement.

We know that in the art system, what matters the least is art. as in a political party   the party structure often falls on the militant invading the space of the politics, just like a rusty machinery, the dimension of the aesthetics gives way to the system’s weight – this complex system of power, hierarchy, producers, art directors, press officers, journalists, etc. The “network”, according to the concept of A. Cauquelin – is kept by the academies. As the academy legitimates the accreditation of the professional and artistic activities, it constantly pushes the arts into an impasse: either the artist summits to it or he breaks with it. In short, while it vertebrates the production (the works and their critical fortune, theories and knowledge involved production) it also paralyses it by the its univocal judgment. Undoubtedly an agent of this process is the other pole, the opposite pole of consumption – the contemporary art market, and it’s good to remind that in Brazil it’s specially warmed.

Out of the institutions, of the mainstream, there is an expensive share: a lot of young students who don’t find alternatives of expression for their aesthetics perceptions which are more and more susceptible and coopted by the cultural industry. Unable to educate and give large democratic access (partly because of the political structure, partly because of the discursive emphasis we spoke previously) the Academy of Visual Arts today participates of a very little fraction, we would say, ridiculous, in one of the most significant process in the life of most young people: mediation with the world through the discovery of language and of the aesthetic dimension. On the contrary: it has frustrated intentions and expectations from the beginning in their own undergraduates, banning the right to the expression through the technical field.

We spoke with deep subjective honesty: the impression we have of certain teaching practices in the academy (mainly the one of denying the technique, in one way or another) it is “resentment” against the dictatorship operated in the past by drawing, and its accessibility always on the verge of banality. As the codes of realism are widespread, new ways of  encoding  the culture signs seem to be created in order to add sophistication that  assure you some cultural distinction, disqualifying the technique as a criterion of validity , even less artistic quality. The contemporary theories just serve to endorse that deep disgust for talent – in fact result of  discipline and passion of the artist in building patiently his own individual means of expression, self adapting to the constraints of plastic matter in the painful process of language acquisition, in order to master it finally, incorporating it to their own purposes. While the work is the objective synthesis of a “densification” of subjectivities, the technique, we would say, is a subjective synthesis of insurmountable objective conditions.

The pencil just compromises when grasped by the artist. The drawing, only when it’s not presented in is conceptual form,” beside of itself”, can materialize, fully, in its essential force; only when acting in the syntax of visual language (whose domain for millennia remained safeguarded by the artist) actually transcends its immanence. Hard conquest, the drawing, indocile, refuses itself to the hesitant and fugacious hand, the same way the plastic materials – charcoal, oil, graphite – resist to the pressure against the support. The language lasts in the muteness of the stone before the existence of goldsmiths and their accuracy. Not only spatial perception, but assumed cognition, the image operates from the body and through the body, first and last support, up to the body of the world and infuses spirit to it.

The art modus operandi is an organ that serves the expression of the spiritual need of a time; what are the expectations or our era? The contours the academy draws will be wide to the point it will understand the production that on this very moment young artists elaborate in small ateliers? Or will it confine it inside narrow limits or will abolish its own programs for good? In order to free the contemporaneity from the past, will it now be imposing contemporaneity to the future?

***

Manisfests express opinions, and are open to criticism. What sustains us and took us to manifest are the echoes of numerous students and coleagues’ outrage over a few years of operation. Manifests are more powerful when presented in the form of plastic works that in turn subsidize their claims. It is necessary first to create conditions for these works to appear, then to meed the significant demand of countless young artists whose talent has been wasted, perhaps because of the arrogant way the theory usually looks at the practice. Because of its commitment to the community and the promotion of knowledge coming out of the interaction with reality, it is the Academy of Visual Arts that has to play this role. Our intention is to raise the exchange of ideas, and the “manifest” is the incitive way that by now we judge adequate.

As we stated, the art field, in its immanence, is a territory at dispute, open to discussions, discordant conceptions and criticism; just through them we transform and perform. We request that those who agree with the manifest to sign and socialize, the same way we thank for the manifestations of those  who have different opinions.

Who signs?

MANIFESTO em versão PDF para impressão-8

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Tradução | LORENNA LANNES

Revisão | ADEMAR DIAS

 

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