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"Marcelo Nunes: Do It Yourself"
2004-11-21 until 2005-01-31
Marina Kessler Gallery
USA United States of America
The clash between police and activists, terrorist attacks, civil wars and urban violence - these are the themes in Marcelo Nunes's new series, Do It Yourself.
Strongly committed to figurative painting since his first works, Nunes has always sought to free himself from the limitations of style, technique and theme, as he puts it, "I'm not faithful to anything but painting itself. I can't see myself painting the same way, or the same theme for too long. I get easily bored."
About three years ago, while shopping at an artists materials store, he came across a small canvas with a still-life already sketched on, and with numbers standing for the colors - an old device meant for beginning amateur painters. "I thought it was funny and sad at the same time. The whole idea was 'you are the artist', but this had nothing to do with art at all. It immediately came to my mind what a famous Brazilian author said: 'Art is subversion'. So I thought, 'How can I subvert it?' So I made sketches of pornographic scenes for people to color, with numbers and all. Really it was just a joke." Only after this first batch did a friend of Nunes's point out that Andy Warhol had done a similar series in the 1960's, the Do-It-Yourself flowers. Being a fan of Warhol's work, Nunes decided to call his series Do It Yourself as well.
In a book about the American Pop artist, Tilman Osterwold summarized the absurdity of the concept depicted in this series: "(...) Their effect is that of aesthetic rape; in their patronizing manner they suppress all creativity." But while Warhol, in his disconcerting cynicism, restricted to mock the original idea of coloring still-life sketches, Nunes decided to widen its subject. "I've always been struck by certain images that constantly appear in news magazines and newspapers all over the world - war victims, terrorist victims, urban violence victims. And I think what's really appalling in them is that they become banal."
Nunes took a break from the DIY and produced a series of images of children injured in wars all over the world, oil painted on small, old wooden toys collected by the artist, the War Toys, exhibited by Marina Kessler in Mexico in 2003. "I'm always collecting those images, I don't really know why. Every time I see a picture of a war victim on a newspaper, I cut it off and put it in a folder. Maybe it's a way of saying, this can't be normal, we should not get used to it. Maybe reproducing these images on my work is just a personal attempt to give them back their importance and their terror. My work itself is not important."
For the new series, Nunes picked images of clashes in places as diverse as Israel, Peru, Italy and Brazil, and applied the idea of coloring sketches in a game of inversion: by turning such images into something that could be seen as commonplace and banal - a mere drawing to be colored and hung on the wall - he attempts to show how horrifying those images really are, if we just stop to look at them.
Marcelo Nunes was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1966. He studied Fine Arts in Escola Panamericana de Artes in São Paulo and has exhibited his work since 1999 in Brazil and abroad.