Open for balance

by Fred Coelho

Since 2010 Raul Mourão has been working with kinetic sculptures. His research on materials and movements brought a new aesthetic route to his work. In a trajectory marked by the eclecticism of means and action fronts, Raul plunged in this universe and concentrated for a period of time in his swings. His last exhibitions explored the multiple possibilities in this relationship between the steel’s raw material and its lightness through subtle pendulum movements. If before his work could sometimes imprison the eye between bars, from the swings it started to invite the spectator to dance.

His new swings, made especially for this exhibition, show us how the themes and shapes of these sculptures keep expanding in a kind of infinite combinatorics analysis. The engineering of the balance becomes more and more diffuse and ludic. The shapes are free to break an appearance of countenance for a salutary dispersion of ideas. This occurs because, despite the rigidity of the steel, they emerge from drawings made by Raul. In the origin of these rational and metallic sculptures, there’s the free and dreamlike line of the drawer’s hand. In a way, we may see in these current swings, internal dialogues with his previous works, like the first sculptures in the exhibition Humano (1993) or the works of cadernos de anotações (2003). In all of them, we see the hand of the drawer creating geometrical and, at the same time, organic shapes, in order to later adjust them to the demand of non-malleable materials, such as metal.

In MOVIMENTO REPOUSO, therefore, Raul keeps expanding the possibilities of his research, however with a new element at stake: the transience. Nowadays, Raul lives in Manhattan, United States. The daily life in his atelier in the district of Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, is replaced by the frenetic rhythm of the American “Babylon”. An always attentive and street oriented artist, Raul soon made the corners of Manhattan his; with his mobile, captured through photos the blind spots, the shifting of the eyes, the approximation of the universal shapes, turning objects and scenes of the urban daily life into small universal microcosms. They are micro-narratives of the flaws, lights, colors, objects. His photos, besides his current swings, show us that Raul is again investing in multimedia for work exhibition, looking once more for a kind of bigger amplitude.

The artist that lives between countries, cities, languages, starts to jeopardize a comfortable space of action and needs to adapt himself to the hybrid component that is installed in his works and in his world vision. A kind of shattering of the certainties impels Raul to reinvent references and not to separate his daily life in the streets (photos) from his reflexive work about language (swings). At the moment, the duplicity (of cities, of means) and the out of place perspective of the photographic images are evidence of a moment in which research and reflection, action and contemplation, are adjusted in the exhibition space and dialogue in multiple ways with the public and with each other.

In conversations before his move to Manhattan, Raul Mourão mentioned a name for a work project during his initial stay in the city. The name: Landing Project. A project made by those who are landing on a new reality. Maybe due to an unnoticeable relationship, the choice of the verb land as the title of this exhibition refers directly to the project outlined still in Brazil. Land/rest ideas, bodies, works, lives. I believe, however, that here, his MOVIMENTO REPOUSO is much more than this. In these days of forced renewal of the country’s political and social reality, evoking a Movement that requires rest is an invitation that can’t be refused. Not of emptying, but of renovation. Resting the eyes on the work, resting the hands on the swings, resting the days on Art, to, who knows, renovate the energy. Finally, every little movement – be it of the steel, of men – will always be a revolution.

Fred Coelho
Fred Coelho

Researcher, essayist and professor of literature at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio)