Tatiana Blass in dialogue with Giacometti, Iberê and Beckett
Antonio Gonçalves Filho

For ArPa’s art fair second edition, award-winning artist Tatiana Blass (Pipa Prize and Cisneros Art Foundation) presents four bodies of work (paintings, paintings on glass, sculptures and ceramics) in which she dialogues with renowned names from the past and transposes elements from a diverse range of artistic languages, among them the work of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.

To a certain extent, the theater has always been present in the painter’s oeuvre. In 2008 Tatiana produced a series of paintings featuring scenographic references (spotlights on empty stages), and for this exhibition she returns to Beckett’s work in another context, delving deeper into the theme of failure present in the play “Endgame”: a pessimistic take on post-war reality this 1957 play is set in a bomb shelter.

The “survivors” of this apocalyptic catastrophe who observe the world through a telescope, roughly correspond to the characters of recent sculptures in which Tatiana returns once again to these figures confined to Beckett’s bunker. They form an allegory of death in life, their bodies consumed by time fading into the melting wax that covers them.

To adopt Zygmunt Bauman’s expression, these bodies are metaphorical representations of “liquid times”. Moreover: they have much to do with Giacometti’s existentialist legacy, sculptures representing humanity at the threshold of disappearance, decreed by the atomic tragedy of Hiroshima.

While Giacometti subtracted mass from these bodies, conferring an appearance of something squalid, on the brink of extinction, gaúcho painter Iberê Camargo, whose work is narrowly linked to the European metaphysical tradition, opted for a similar course but accentuated the form: in a later series from Iberê, “As Idiotas” (1991), the tragic paralyzation of these figures abandoned to their fate is represented in bodies whose weight gives in to gravity.

The figures in Tatiana Blass’ series “Os Sentados” establish a dialogue analogous with Iberê Camargo’s “idiots”, engaging with the same tragic dimension of paralysis seen in the imprisoned Beckettian creatures of “Endgame”. The viewer bears witness to this melting, both in the sculptures and the paintings.

Tatiana, however, brings humor to this world steeped in tragedy. Or better: sets a Felliniesque scene in which these figures move, fixed in synthetic enamel on glass, the opposite of the paintings on canvas. “Lona”, from 2021, synthesizes like no other the pathos of this diffuse existential experience of a time that no longer understands the sense of tragedy, even though it is essentially tragic.

Another new feature of the work Tatiana is presenting at ArPa is its connection with ancient pottery techniques, enhanced here by her artistic experience as a painter. It is worth noting that the affirmative experience of the new chromatic order in these works contrasts with the deliberate erasure of the figures in paintings from 2009/2010, whose meaning converged with the dissolution of figures in the paintings of Sean Scully, also synonymous with an inescapable end.