Critics’ Picks

  • Paulo Vivacqua, Babbling Forms, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Paulo Vivacqua, Babbling Forms, 2019, mixed media, dimensions variable.

    Rio de Janeiro

    Paulo Vivacqua

    Anita Schwartz Galeria | Rio de Janeiro
    Rua José Roberto Macedo Soares 30, Gávea
    November 4, 2020–January 16, 2021

    For at least twenty years, Paulo Vivacqua has dedicated himself to research involving the fabrication of sound objects in Brazil. As a musician, he composes electroacoustic minimalist pieces presented either in concerts or in gallery settings. In the last few years, he has begun to introduce elements of painting into his sound works. Stepping into this exhibition feels a little like entering Giverny: Corale (Coral), 2019–, a rainbow of round monochrome speakers, is arrayed throughout the space in an archipelago of clustered, colorful mycological structures (what if Monet, like Dylan, had gone electric?). Both soundscape and seascape, this installation of “water lilies” is backdropped by Babbling Forms, 2019, six sets of small circular speakers and multihued audio cables fixed onto iron sheets attached to the gallery walls. Draped over the amplifiers to form loose, scalloped “sound drawings,” these overlapping cables suggest the untapped sonic potentials of sight. On the gallery’s upper level, “memo,” 2009–, a series of open-ended abstractions made on notebooks once owned by the artist’s father, reminds us that, even in an exhibition in which machines are a constant (if quiet) presence, Vivacqua’s gestures are rooted in his own bodily experience and memory. The entire atmosphere of the exhibition is filled with a distinct chorus, whether generated by machines (such as those we hear from the speakers) or inarticulate vocalic murmurings: something struggling to take form, to take flight as song.

    Translated from Portuguese by Clifford E. Landers.