January 27th to February 17th, 2023
Exhibition view. Photography: Bruno Lopes
UMBRAL exhibition, by Monica Mindelis (1978, São Paulo), at Duplex, reminds us that abstraction, in art, is, in itself, a dichotomy. On the one hand, it refers to something that cannot be turned into an object, but on the other hand, there it is, confronting us, in its non-existence, with images, colors and objects with bodies, which we can see and touch. Abstraction in art is a process of appropriating what cannot be represented and, simultaneously, of proposing its realization through a set of objects and images that exist in a parallel narrative that, in the same way as its stating point, configures itself as something that cannot be represented. In the case of this exhibition, this paradoxical non-existence is formed by three oil-on-paper paintings bursting with color over heights of 1.5 meters that are a part of the UMBRAL series (2022), which gives the exhibition its name, and by two objects with engravings on acrylic plates printed on plaster, about 35 cm wide each, which are part of the series BANQUISAS (2022).
A word of Spanish origin, “umbral” comes from the old Catalan “limbrar” which, in its turn, came from the Latin liminaris, relating to the threshold of a door. In Portuguese, umbral means the side piece of a door or jamb and, in a figurative sense, door, entrance, threshold, entry point or beginning of something. In the paintings “Mergulho”, “Pétala”, and “Por Dentro”, from the UMBRAL series, Monica Mindelis appropriates the idea of these passageways from pairs: monochrome / polychrome; addition / subtraction; hot / cold; line / blur; fragile / robust; noise / silence. In fact, the first time I saw “Mergulho” painting, at some distance, when I entered the artist's studio, I saw a monochrome painting. As my body and my eyes got closer to the painting, I could see that, after all, the paper harbors innumerable colors and shades of hot and cold, lines and stains, in a meticulous exercise of layers and subtraction in which the robustness of visual noise shares space with the apparent fragility of silence. The title is particularly happy because the layers of paint result in a depth that evokes, in fact, a dive. And dives are always entrances to a place. The titles, like the conceptual pairs that form the paintings, reveal the entry into purgatory as a time and intermediate place between heaven and hell. In this evocative process, we are asked to exercise representation from abstraction - giving form beyond lines, stains, and colors, and reading beyond what the titles show at first reading.
The objects Banquisa I and Banquisa II from the BANQUISAS series also recall the passage between two spaces. A “banquisa” is a bank or field of ice, frozen seawater that forms a thin, easily breakable layer. Mónica Mindelis' ice floes suggest this fragility based on the friction between what is seen and what exists even if it is not visible from images of icebergs. Iceberg 1 shows an iceberg which, in the upper part, which will remain outside, is small, but in the lower, hidden part, it has an enormous dimension. Float II, on the other hand, reveals an iceberg with the visible part almost the same size as the part hidden by the sea. As a whole, and similar to what we can see in the UMBRAL series, Banquisas evoke the passage of time within the same body.
Here, as in the last ten years, Monica Mindelis presents works on the wall (the paintings from the UMBRAL series) and on the floor (Banquisa I and Banquisa II) to provoke a verticality in the observer's gaze, suggesting an idea of ascension, thus placing images, objects, and observers in an intermediate position, between the ground and another place that, in Western constructions, is understood as sacred.
This methodology has been adopted by the artist to reflect on the elements that make up this transitional place with the pairs that are implicit in it - good and evil, inferior and superior, visible and invisible. Embracing the element of fire as a metaphor for life (Heráclito) and the unity of dualities (Bachelard), Monica Mindelis explores pairs in visual narratives to speculate on a possible balance between opposites and, thus, find an aggregating place / being / time. In this simultaneous process of apparent visual abstraction and oppositions, reminiscent of the idea of unity or complementarity of opposites by Heraclitus, who defended that different and opposite concepts equally deal with the contradiction inherent in the same being, the two series of the UMBRAL exhibition remind us that divergent entities and contradictory intersect. And it is in these intersections that they show that they are part of the same existence, in a relationship of complementarity and interdependence.