Valdir Sarubbi

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Individual exhibit by Valdir Sarubbi – Drawings, paintings and reliefs.

Curatorship: Alex Cerveny.

Opening: Tuesday, November 30, 7 P.M..

Continuing the cycle of lectures and discussions on “Brazilian Cultural Identity” in that day there will be a roundtable discussion with Sheila Mann and Renato Rezende, at 8 P.M..

Period: from November 30, 2010 to January 15, 2011 – Monday to Friday, from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M., and Saturday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M..

Valdir Sarubbi – the power of an absence

It is no simple task to write about Valdir Sarubbi; for he and his work (both celebrated in this exhibit that is homage to the tenth anniversary of his death) are not meant for superficialities and labels. Besides, he and his work are confused within me, within many of us who were his pupils, his friends, his chosen ones and who loved and were loved by him. Above all, Sarubbi had a deep capacity of loving; he loved generously, with profound respect for the individuality of each pupil or friend, allowing each relationship to blossom with the same sensitivity and care that we notice in his plastic works. His premature death (he would not agree with this expression, he would consider it contradictory in its terms) inaugurated a fundamental absence in the life of his most beloved and near ones – and likewise in Brazilian art history.

I met Valdir Sarubbi in 1980, initially as a pupil, afterwards as a friend, in his “Free Studio”. Brazil was just starting to breathe the freer air of the end of the military dictatorship. And, little by little, with the onset of democracy, a cultural, intellectual and more articulate and institutionally organized life was regaining space in this country. In the visual arts, resistance strategies and conceptual experiences of artists like Cildo Meireles, Antônio Manuel, Barrio and others gave way to the euphoria and big gestures of the so-called Generation of the 80s. As tends to occur in countries that are still being formed, with no strong philosophical tradition and additionally subject to totalitarian leftovers, the artistic tendencies of the 70s and those of the 80s had something of a “movement”, something dogmatic – an agenda extraneous to the plastic work itself. This becomes evident, for instance, in Brígida Baltar’s testimony on the beginning of his career: “There (in Parque Lage) I found a pre-scenario – How are you generation of the 80s? and the stimuli were for as much gesture and color possible. I suffered a lot, trying to identify with this path, ‘releasing’ forms, while still using color pencils, but the drawings were of a misplaced subtlety. I strived tirelessly to arrive to that kind of gesture, as if there were one and only right direction to be followed. “

There is nothing more distant from Valdir Sarubbi, both the person and his work, than such totalitarian, imposing or militant movements (no matter if we agree or not with the principles and values of such militancy). Extremely aware of what it is to be an artist and how a sensitive artistic language is developed, Sarubbi himself makes it extremely clear, on several occasions: “What is important to me is not the artist’s commitment to specific tendencies or movements, but the open vision of one who watches a work of art in order to appreciate it in whatever it presents that is sensitive, heedless of its form. What is important to me is that the art made by the artist be a reflection of him, and not a dubbing of some artistic tendency orchestrated by the media, or a simple illustration of contemporary artistic theories. The creative process of the artist is very important, and it follows the artist’s growth as a human being. No burning steps, no hurry to reach success. This growth is reflected in the maturity of his work.” (2)

A decade has gone by since his death, and we note that Brazil has not yet been capable of deserving an artist of Valdir Sarubbi’s stature. If his memory continues pulsating inside each one of us – his friends – as acquired gestures, memories and affections (for instance, there are numberless objects that I still keep, from the times of Atelier Livre, and they lead me directly to the presence of Valdir and his sound lessons), the absence of his name in art guides and retrospectives that have been promoted these last years in a Brazil already consistently democratic and economically thriving, is an eloquent reminder of how much we still have to mature as a nation.

We still have not been capable of assimilating a work disengaged from the mainstream and meant to lead plastic language to high levels of complexity and sophistication. Like very few, Valdir Sarubbi’s work, though never drifting away from the rigor of a refined and intuitive sensitivity, constitutes a thought. There is an inquiring quality, almost obsessive, in series such as Labyrinthic Meditation and Olden Owners of the Arrows, as if there were a search, an intricate mapping of memories and affections (that do not search to be resolved, but are content to be revealed, discovered, elaborated) It is not by chance that the river, with its depths, shadows and meanderings, appears as one of his strongest metaphors. It is almost symptomatic that memory has been one of the most recurrent themes of Valdir Sarubbi’s work. His latest canvases, full of lightness and light, evidence his faith in human spirit – a spirit he recognized and cultivated in himself and in all those who had the privilege of sharing his life.

1 Baltar, Brígida. Passagem Secreta (org. Márcio Doctors). Rio de Janeiro: Funarte/Circuito, 2010.
2. Bittar, Rosana. Sarubbi. Belém: Estacon, 2002.

Renato Rezende

Translation: Marina Tschiptschin Francisco

For the official site of Valdir Sarubbi: click here

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