São Paulo

the Bienal de São Paulo

Pavilhão Ciccillo Matarazzo

“The purpose of a biennial,” proclaims the curator of this one, Alfons Hug, “cannot be to exhibit convictions.” A little reflection suggests just how much conviction it must take, paradoxically, to admit as much. In his catalogue introduction, Hug implicitly contrasts the exhibition he set out to organize with other recent international presentations based on “documentary strategies.” In a pragmatic age he positions art as a vehicle for neither the good nor the true, but the beautiful. No wonder, then, that (at least in his essay) Hug assigns a leading role to painting in general and abstraction in particular. “The mystery of painting,” he avers, “lies in the fact that a tiny brushstroke tears up the veil of the ordinary and brings to light a new world whose mysteries cannot be solved by mathematicians’ statistics.”

This begs the question as to whether the “new world” supposedly revealed

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