Renata Har, Submarine, 2012, drypoint print and oil pastel on paper, 8 1/4 x 11 3/4".

Renata Har, Submarine, 2012, drypoint print and oil pastel on paper, 8 1/4 x 11 3/4".

Renata Har

La Maudite Art Space

Renata Har, Submarine, 2012, drypoint print and oil pastel on paper, 8 1/4 x 11 3/4".

Renata Har’s Podium, 2014, consists of a found section of green cardboard wallpaper that was damaged in a Berlin apartment fire and left in the street. Nailed to the wall, this tattered object clearly shows smoke damage on its bottom edge, which is folded up slightly, forming a precarious shelf for a pile of black glitter. But rather than sparkling, the glitter seems matted together, almost slimy, like wet ash. In the gallery, it has gradually accumulated on the floor below. In counterpoint to this fragile hanging object, In the Tall Grass Crickets Sing, 2012, offers a similarly folded and dilapidated piece of butcher paper in a protective vitrine mounted on the next wall. Whereas in Podium, an accidental footprint speaks to the object’s former life, this work bears its title and drawn lines printed via monotype.

Curated by La Maudite cofounder Camila Bechelany, Har’s “On Different Silences” is the third exhibition at this new gallery and project space, which focuses on Brazilian artists. The show is guided by Har’s interest in Marcel Duchamp’s notion of the “inframince,” a near-imperceptible distinction or interval between two elements. For On Different Silences, 2014, the artist applied etching ink and drypoint to the gallery’s glass door until it was virtually opaque; repeated rectangular edges left by the plate are visible at the edges. Only a few scratches into the ink—some seemingly arbitrary lines, others cohering into tally marks suggesting numbers—let light through the door, calling attention to its role at the border between inside and outside. In addition to any social gesture or observation that might be read into this (such glass storefronts are relatively new in Belleville, a working-class Paris neighborhood that has seen an influx of art galleries in the past few years), On Different Silences parallels Untitled, 2014, just inside: a tar-on-found-paper drawing hung backward on the wall so that only a few stains through the paper are visible. Har’s deft employment of fragile materials, her play with both the front and back of surfaces, and her penchant for delicately scrawled lines and texts recall the work of fellow Paulista Mira Schendel. Yet Har’s artistic background is not exclusively national; she studied with Christian Boltanski at l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Any signifiers of “Brazilian tradition” are self-conscious and strategic.

Still, Har’s discreet, rumpled objects could not be further from Boltanski’s grand scale and portentous ruminations on memory. Instead, she fits into the logic of “recessional aesthetics,” described by a triad of October editors in 2009 as “other models, other spaces” relieved of “some of the pressure to conform to expectations associated with entertainment.” Har opts for a radically humble approach, in which even paper can be found rather than bought and all discarded objects have potential poetic value. It is precisely at this ambiguous register that history peeks through, at the hinge of personal choice and more collective, thus more coherent, associations.

In the basement, the drawing Submarine, 2012, and the collage Island, 2014, with their references to oceans and conveyances, are paired with Untitled, 1978, a family photograph from before the artist’s birth, hung on a half-open door leading to dark storage rooms beyond. These works hint at the artist’s background—her Polish family immigrated to São Paulo after World War II—while altering objects and establishing new relationships between them. Upstairs is Capacete (Helmet), 2012, a World War II–era military helmet turned upside down and half-filled with water that bubbles every thirty minutes. The new rust aggregating on this antique is a reminder that art is about continuing processes rather than about static artifacts.

Daniel Quiles