Critics’ Picks

View of “Ricardo Basbaum,” 2017

São Paulo

Ricardo Basbaum

Galeria Jaqueline Martins
Rua Dr. Cesário Mota Júnior, 443
June 10 - July 26

Among the artists of Brazil’s so-called Geração 80 (’80s Generation), referring to the main wave of new creators of that decade, Ricardo Basbaum was a dissonant presence. Although he was included in the seminal 1984 exhibition “Como vai você, geração de 80?” (How Are You Doing, ’80s Generation?), Basbaum’s practice challenged misreadings of the group, which was stereotypically associated with a return to painting from the politically engaged art of the previous decades, after a twenty-year dictatorship. He has continued to be open to a variety of processes and mediums, and attentive to the artist’s relationship with systems of artmaking and distribution. Not accidentally, he was one of the first to call for a thorough retroactive critique of that period, in his 1988 text “Painting from the ’80s: A Few Critical Observations.”

His writing is one of the starting points to his recent solo show. Devised with an eye to historiography, the exhibition includes projects from 1981 to 1996, focusing on three of the artist’s most consistent series: “Olho” (Eye), 1984–1990; “Corte de cabelo” (Haircut), 1985–86; and “NBP - Novas Bases para a Personalidade” (NBP - New Bases for Personality), 1990–. The works on canvas—nods to the fetishization of this 1980s output—appear at the end of the show and underscore the artist’s interest in contamination of elements between various series. Similarly, in Diagrama, cut-contamination-contact, 2017, the artist cleverly drew diagrams whose cells multiply on two walls and meet at a corner, encouraging viewers to move around in order to see the work in its entirety. His long interest in contamination seems particularly prescient of the digital revolution, such as notions of virality and of the open-ended archive.