It's always exciting to come across a fantastic artist about whom you know nothing, but with whom you suddenly feel a strong affinity. Since my previous post about Gonçalo Ivo, I have received a generous package containing two gorgeous books on Gonçalo's work and life, and have been exploring them in depth for the past week or so.
What I 've found is an astonishingly deep body of work that is both participating in an international painting dialogue, and deflecting that conversation to include primal impulses that seem almost lost to the contemporary discourse. Central to Gonçalo's premise are color (in all its dynamic and evocative possibilities) and process (the act and materiality of making), the elements through which he engages the world and by which his work transcends the formal. His life experience is distinctive, as the son of the Brazilian poet Ledo Ivo, he grew up surrounded by artists and poets, and living with an art collection that included the work of Alfredo Volpi which inspired him at an early age. Within this spirit of intellectual and aesthetic richness, Gonçalo developed his work as a daily ritual, inseparable from and integrally woven with his culture and surroundings. Until fairly recently, his work has hardly been seen outside of Brazil, where he is very well known and highly regarded. He has had several solo exhibitions in Europe, and only shown on a few occasions in group shows in the States.
Gonçalo Ivo, Installation - Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro, 2008Unlike much of the geometric abstract painting we see in the contemporary art scene, Gonçalo's work is steeped in a deep identification with an ancestral tradition of poetic production. It positions itself within a non-linear time space where human creative endeavor is an act of devotion.