Vanitas

Abstractions to Die For

Celio Braga: Abstrações para morrer de amor, Galeria da Faculdade de Artes Visuais UFG, Goiânia, Brazil, 2011

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Catalogue text

Celio Braga’s Abstractions to Die For (2011) employ the rhythmical vocabulary of the line. The three sets of works in the exhibition-installation consist of horizontal lines in white or in color. But instead of offering the optical experience of a minimalist work, best viewed from distance, there is an element that beckons their viewer to get closer. At this moment it gets interesting - the image splits and appears as multiple surfaces. There is a layer underneath the neat minimal plane of lines, something that unsettles, disturbs them from within.

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But what about the body? It is mortal and vulnerable, in a Vanitas painting skulls and flowers remind us of that.  Flesh and flowers are a crucial part of Braga’s aesthetics. But I do not wish to say that his works are Vanitas images.  They exceed the moralizing message - all that is beautiful passes. They are its inversion – a flower shaped incision on an image of living skin, say - all that passes is beautiful. This is to say that the body is all that there is, and we should carefully hold it. The desire to mark the vulnerability of the body, to wrap it, to transform its skin, to adorn it marks Braga’s work. Abstractions to Die For is a contemporary Vanitas but an erased one. Vanitas.

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