Solo Show - SÉ Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
by Maria Montero, November/2014
The city was closed. Off limits. Banned.
On the route in, dozens of boards, one on top of the other, signaled danger. Do not enter.
She had heard that in the state of Colorado there are over 1500 ghost cities. Some had become tourist sites. She had rented a car and investigated one that turned out to nothing, only a great ruinous city, intact, in an absolute state of permanent deterioration.
She found no souls.
Vague were the reasons for that exodus.
In fact, it was all simply abandoned: houses, past lives, roadside cafes.
For the first time in her life, she felt scared. She was foreign, she was alone. She could feel strange absent-presences, sounds. The heat and the wind mixed the senses even further.
She heard the pages of a phone book flipping slowly one by one, as if someone was physically turning them.
But there was nobody, apart from her, in that city.
She was almost eaten by a bear. A sentence that could have been part of one more of her fantastic anecdotes.
Fernanda Chieco, since her early works, had focused on the contours (internal and external) of the human body. First, she built objects using drawings exclusively for design purposes. Then her drawings gained autonomy and the bodies she drew connected through strange devices.
Her grandparents had been hairdressers and she liked collecting hair, looking fixedly down drains. She is obsessed by bathrooms and the material aspect of paper.
In her travels, she has visited exhibitions on bacteria and on the heads of a distant tribe chosen, if I am not mistaken, through some bizarre technique and, may it be said, still with their hair. With her drawings, she has detailed functions and dysfunctions of the human body: liquids, farts, beings that guzzle red light.
Little by little, her fantastic universe took on the part of construction of improbable narratives that her drawing, as well as literature, could make possible: bodies are merged with elephants, watermelons, memories, seals, tongues, flycatchers, jams, wolves and giraffes; just to mention some of the peculiar character-elements.
But Chieco was alone, in the middle of the desert and had almost been eaten by a bear. Maybe that is why in this set of drawings, the narrative was one of abandonment, solitude, ruin, zombies, faceless people and bodies without outlines.
The portrait of a city discarded from lack of use.
There is, formally, something important that should be recognized. In Gone (Foram0se) the artist abandons graffiti, her greatest ally and makes use of watercolors.
The desire for contact with water, in the full-out American desert, seems to have shown her the route. Color, always gradual and previously used to stress volume, appears as total chrome option, in contrast solely with the white spaces left on the paper.
It is surprising for the great format to serve as a screen for watercolors, commonly used to smaller sizes. The gesture, no longer of a proficient drawing artist, but as a painter, makes the travel of paintbrush and wet paint apparent.
On joint elaboration of this first individual exhibition by Fernanda Chieco at Sé, several routes could have been taken, as her production is not only vast but constant and diversified.
This series, however, seemed appropriate, not only dye to the formal novelty but due to the apocalyptic proximity of its theme with our present moment.
Brazil suffers with depreciation and abandonment of its policies. Water is lacking, resources are lacking, character is lacking.
In my walks through the historic center of the city, I find myself wondering about this monstrous city that is Sao Paulo. In a brief daydream, I imagine what would happen to it if the possibilities for coexistence came to an end.
I dare to dream its failure.
In this case, each and any goods acquired, be they houses, properties, cars or clothes, would be no good to man, they would be discarded, alone, as in the American ghost cities.
The city therefore, would be full of emptiness and, who knows, would maybe be the setting for a brave outing by a foreign artist.
It would become ruins without bodies, in a city of concrete souls, watercolored by the few hopes we still maintain.