The skins of color
by KÁTIA CANTON
"But every epidermis would require a different tattoo; it would have to evolve with time (...) An abstract drawing or painting would be the counterpart of the faithful and honest tattoo in which the sense impressions are expressed. The skin becomes a standard bearer, whereas it is in fact imprinted." - Michel Serres
Ricardo Camaranoís work has become a sort of skin. A colorful, living skin that becomes worn down by the action of the hand. A skin that thickens and is wounded, cut and scraped, accumulating in scraps ñ a skin that unfolds and opens outward, onto and across the surface of the canvas even as it folds back and curves in on itself, becoming small sculptures that resemble small stones or organs.
This singular way of working took shape slowly.
For a long time the artist looked to nature as his great creative reference. Initially, he drew, painted and materialized nature through representation. Thus, the artistic operation was based on observation and took place from the outside in.
With the passing of time, demarcated by his confrontation with magnificent landscapes and the realization that nature itself was the supreme work of art, representation became for him a form of redundance.
According to the artistís perception, no aesthetic construct can ultimately account for reproducing the grandeur of sentient expression.
The wilfull construction of form finally gave way to another plastic procedure and another affective relationship with the materiality of art. The artist then began to use a concentrated, disciplined and tender way of "letting it be".
Not that this Brazilian artist who lives in Paris has chosen a type of art that translates into a mere game of chance. Actually, Camarano uses this ´ letting it be ª only insofar as he imparts density to his skins ñ his filling up of the surfaces of his linen canvases with layers upon layers of color.
These accumulations of color are the result of the constant work of hands that slide, admix and hide the layers of paint with which the oil sticks cover the canvas.
From this point on, the great dense skin, filled with multicolored derma, hidden beneath the most recent surface is ready to repond to a labor of routine, patience and, above all, precisionóa surgical action of cuts and scrapings.
More than this, it is a form of prayer.
Let me explain: Ricardo Camarano avails himself of knives and chisels and, slowly, by means of a constant and repetitive mechanism, wears away and erodes his skins of color through constant circular gestures.
As they strive for a purity of the senses, for an emptying out of predetermined thoughts, a silence filled with enchantment, these circular motions recall the hypnotic tone of religious ritual.
The artistís hands work and pray this prayer made of an organic, disciplined, constant rhythm.
The entire past, made up of an accumlation of colors and texture of the oil stick is gradually revealed through scablike crusts, pieces, and textures that fall away like healing wounds. What remains is a large skin, marked by so many layers and colors, and the skins made of leftovers and scars that now come together in sculptural accumulations.
There is a conjunction of time here. A blend of past and present that transforms itself into a becoming-of-nature that is quite typical of this artist (who has always pursued it).
Thus Camarano produces a time out of time ñ a term coined by thinker Jeanne Marie Gagnebin in reference to The Fugitive ñ Finding Time Again, the last volume of Marcel Proustís In Search of Lost Time:
"...the present is not only an indifferent point of inflection between the before and the after; and the past is not simply something concluded and dead. In their recirpocal encounter, both past and present take on a sensitive intensity that once again grants them that which seemed lost: the opening onto an unknown dimension, the opening onto possibility..."
Camaranoís pictorial mechanism inaugurates the dimension of an invented nature made up of skins, stones, organs, and husks ñ all of them strangely and magically colored, veined and designed.
In his artistic process, the artist strives for no less than the unison of past and present, nature and culture, matter and spirituality ñ the flesh of skin and the soul of synthesis.
At the same time, he is seeking a process of extreme simplicity, one that attempts to arrive at the beginning of art, at its primordial mechanism of existence.
His search may best be summed up by the following poem from Manoel de Barros "Livro sobre Nada":
I carry my origin upon a bier.
My voice has a vice of sources.
I would like to advance to the beginning.
To arrive at the childing of words.
At that place where they still pee on their legs.
Even before they are molded by hands.
When the child scribbels the verb in order to express what
There is not.
To seize the stamen of sound.
To be the voice of a darkened lizard.
To open a view onto the arcane.