WHAT WE DON’T HAVE THE NERVE TO THROW AWAY

Bianca Bernardo
september, 2019

 

Imagine returning to your childhood home only to find an empty space that cannot be filled. The voice you long to hear does not live in the space in which silence takes on a noisy density and muffles the words in our throats. The need to be reborn – alone in the world this time around, pregnant with one’s many forms – is a strange sensation. Such is the secret wish of one who has always wished to preserve the instant. Who has never dreamed of stopping time? Is it we who turn the hourglass upside down, admixed with its grains of sand, slipping through irretrievable moments, each one traveling its own path? In the former sitting room, the furniture remains safely covered by drop cloths that continue to prevent a continuous impregnation by dust. A mystery has inhabited those objects, awaiting the event of the day of their discovery, knowing that the promise of intimacy with the world resides in the subtle touch of body upon furniture. In the exercise of dream memory, the childhood home lost in the deep night of time may be rescued like a boat that does not disappear in the shipwreck but is only asleep.

The starting points for artist Renato Bezerra de Mello’s solo exhibition What we don’t have the nerve to throw away are objects and images from his trajectory, some of them kept since childhood, others inherited or even produced during his art education in France. In drawings, sculptures, embroideries and prints, the artist reinvents memory through gestures that seek both to staunch the flow of time and to propose new forms for the body. By means of stitches that outline in order to free presence from absence, the artist bravely sets off upon his encounter with a desire for reparation, understanding that every remembrance contains within itself a farewell ceremony.

The allure of Renato Bezerra de Mello’s work begins when we plunge into his collection of regards. Keeping is important. Delicately, his methodology of conjoining and gathering objects as prosthetics for remembrance evinces the perception of symbolic expression that shoots through and re-signifies materiality. The metaphor for intimate space reflected in each object reveals not just a particular recollection, but points above all else to the complex set of interactions that always occur within the social sphere. Objects are not devoid of intrinsic experience and are able to preserve the time of things lived. In producing his artistic idiom, Renato creates relationships with his collection through the power with which he expands and transforms it. In his studio, the artist listens to the words contained within the experienced time of each object; by means of the action of their intent, they are moved on to a new life as works of art.

The artist’s attention was drawn to minuscule fungus stains on the introductory chapter pages of a book found in his mother’s home. He also found a bolt of fabric made in the old family textile factory, that had the same small irregularly shaped stains. Using a palette of varied colors, both on paper and on fabric, the artist began to draw outlines around the fungus stains, with color pencil and sewing thread. Patiently, the artist works on these materials, in an inglorious struggle against death. Within the imagination of time eternal, the artist stops the expansion of the fungi with his creative gesture and instils the beauty of life within the boundaries needed to prevent decomposition. In the arrangement that sews buttons outside their buttonholes, the artist disorients the function of dressing to make up a great line crossing the space in which we find ourselves, we, the newborn, and our shared feeling of solitude and existence. We quite often have no model to follow, so we inhabit the freedom of allowing lack of control to emerge. In the series of sculptures made with paraffin and thread, Renato Bezerra de Mello invents new forms for disembodied organs, signs that are open to a desire to be that moves towards the discovery of who we are. By enveloping paraffin molds of hands in thread, the artist strips from its features the figure of the human body’s exteriority and normativity, beckons us to enter the body and allows us to imagine new organs germinated by intuitive forms. To travel inside the body is akin to entering a secret house and opening its rooms and closets. Carefully protected, those handwritten notes were kept inside the drawer; over the years they became enveloped by the latency of waiting. One day, like one who discovers hidden treasure, the artist found the notes, rare as the architecture of a sacred calligraphy. It was then he asked: why do you exist? And the letters replied: not to forget.