The Art of Ana Maria Plant

Part 5 - Windows - Page 35

View of Mauá

 

Content in the Form

 

The painting of Ana Maria Plant impresses us primarily because of its suggestive qualities. This, however, says little of an artist who resolves the most serious aesthetic proposition in a highly original way.

The subject is not new, yet it remains unresolved. The fact is that a great many approaches have been tried over the years – completmentary or contrary as the case may be – in the attempt to remedy what seems irremediable in the eyes of artists and critics. I refer to the supposed limitation of the canvas as a support for artistic expression.

In the frenetic search for a new formalization of pictorial art, the canvas is now frequently being blamed for the dead end that the art of painting has now reached. Faced with this impasse, they don’t hesitate to deny its basic components in favour of aesthetic presuppositions that range from the arbitrary to the iconoclastic. All that the prophets of false renewal have to offer is change for changes sake, to the detriment of the whole.

Luckily this is not the path taken by Ana Maria. Her own search has proven to be lucid and consequential. The paintings of her new phase offer a structure in which windows are the key. Whether they be a frontier line or a point of intersection, she places herself discretely between the inside and the outside, the interior and the exterior, between still life and real life.

Such spaces in opposition (or juxtaposition) are all the more impressive for the identity of their component parts. Outside we have an eternal recurrence of mountain ranges etched against the skyline with the proud silhouettes of ubiquitous araucaria trees. Inside we have silent and scantily furnished rooms adorned with solitary enamel jugs and simple vases – cold, static objects which increase the solitude of the empty ancestral home.

It is difficult to resist the temptation to interpret as the objects on either side assume a representative, archetypal character. With the component forms transfigured into polysignificant symbols, we swiftly enter the hypothetical town versus country, urban versus natural conflict. Perhaps that old cock roosting on the radio serves to structure the composition.

As if to avoid becoming the vicitim of her own magic, the artist does not include her own image. Life penetrates the lonely room in the form of flowers in vases, the rustic climbing plant, columns of busy ants and colourful butterflies, not to forget those watchful and enigmatic cats and the cockerel on the radio, as well as the dark table surface enlivened with apples and bananas on a plate.

Life is on the outside, and that is where freedom thrives. It is what each of those symbolic objects seems to reveal - the deciphered message of her formal project. The joining together of four canvases to create the window itself reveals this possibility, and more than this possibility, indeed the freedom to multiply space, canvas after canvas ad infinitum. In other words, objective freedom arises in response to subjective freedom, a theme subordinate to the process of revelation.

The Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa said that “All is worthwhile if the soul is not vile”. Ana Maria corroborates this in images, not words. With her Windows she shows that it is possible to make an original and enriching art using the old-fashioned canvas, brushes and paints. Just add a little creativity!

Luis Galdino,

Professor and writer,

Author of ‘Itacoatiaras’:

A Prehistory of Brazilian Art

 

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