This selection of works by the Goiás artist Marcelo Amorim reveals how deceiving a First Reading can be. Drawing our attention to the danger of easy lines of thought that hide prejudices rooted in our society and, consequently, in cultural production, Marcelo Amorim’s work requests a careful analysis that sweeps across and criticizes simplistic approaches to the themes.
The series of paintings Big Arms, for example, comments on the acceptance of a physical (and mental) model to followed from the early years of the 20th century and still reproduced today. This set of portraits taken from a book about bodybuilding techniques reasserts masculine power exhibited by arm strength, a reasoning that demonstrates the male chauvinism in our society as much as worship of the body. Translated into the language of painting, these social stances are assumed through the use of golden and white paints capable of playing with reflections, at times allowing us to identify the men, at others turning them into almost faceless ghosts, depending on the observer’s perspective.
Paired to the series of paintings are the images of Esposas e filhas [Wives and Daughters], which are also portraits, but now in photographic format. This set of photographs without any precise date is given a new reading in Marcelo Amorim’s work. The photographs present outstanding women in their social context who, for future generations, lost their identity and became attachments to their husbands, parents, brothers, etc. The men of their lives are identified by name on their portraits, while the portrayed females are transformed into their relationship to their male counterpart. By borrowing pictures that are almost a century old with the series Big Arms and Esposas e filhas, the artist comments on the subtle forms of prejudice in the modern world, which accept these forms of representation as natural.
When confronted by the works of this exhibition we tend to identify them as belonging to an old fashioned past, which we are unwilling to inherit. After all, the ideas transformed into images by their original authors belong to discontinued traditions of thought that are argued against nowadays. However, arguments are different to actions.
The series of paintings Primeira leitura [First Reading] comments on the negative indoctrinating capacity of education. In these paintings the artist uses a mixed technique of acrylic and watercolor paints to simulate the effect of time on the image, an induction for the visitor to see himself as apart from these problematic arguments. Inciting this mea culpa the artist reiterates the hereditary nature of the prejudices and the presence of these old fashioned thoughts in contemporary society. Combining narrative and drawings, these books perversely engage child domestication, transforming the child into an adult well adapted to society. By explaining this modeling procedure, suggested by the action of time that has erased parts of the images, Marcelo Amorim exposes the need for individuals to adapt to the predominant culture, suggesting cultural actions as mass manipulation.
This exhibition is supported by the use of images to reveal the perverse mechanisms of culture in the world of today. And the visitor is invited to apply critical thought through images from the past, also in the present; tackling the First Reading.