The spatial dimension of color

Cauê Alves

Four centuries after the “solutions” of the Renaissance and three centuries after Descartes, depth is still new, and it insists on being sought, not “once in a lifetime”, but all through life. Merleau-Ponty

What calls attention in André Ricardo’s painting is the way he explores colors’ different notions of space. In his works, colors do not present any intention to echo the visible world, what is of interest here is their expressive power. The artist’s research is related to the understanding of the dimension of color itself in relation to other colors. Space, just as time, is one of the dimensions of color, but it would not be possible to objectively describe the space of these paintings based on rational categories. Depth is not only the quantitatively and precisely measured interval between two bodies. Depth is the inner connection among things; it is what is in-between, the distance that keeps objects attached to as well as inseparable from their surroundings.

Caçambas and Escavadeiras are series of paintings in which spaces that are never fully apprehended by the gaze emerge before us and tend to, just like a black hole, suck everything that surrounds them. That is because there is a sort of space-time deformation in the paintings. Everything occurs as if time were suspended, as if it did not go by and something interrupted its continuity and movement. This moment of suspension may be related to the spiritual dimension of the work, which is primarily generated by the chromatic thickness of the paintings.

The resulting experience is emptiness, a vacuum filled with and generated by color. It also results from the ambiguity of an emptiness that acts upon the eyes and fills them completely – the strength of these paintings. It is not only about a negative space, for our spatial experience goes beyond traditional oppositions and dichotomies, but about a space in which the positive and the negative complete one another and need one another.  Each painting contains unity instead of duality. And the contrasts among colors do not weaken this unity, but actually reinforce it.

In the images of Caçambas and Escavadeiras there is a sort of a lack, of a need, that demands from us an active attitude of completing and giving meaning. The reason for the paintings’ incompleteness, their opening regarding the other is that they contain emptiness, something that is invisible, and this is precisely what calls attention in the work. The visible field of the work emerges from emptiness, which is not mere denial. In other words, it is from the invisibility of the painting, from a primordial depth that exists in it, that everything that can be seen emerges. Just like music only exists if there is silence, one may say that André Ricardo’s paintings presuppose and address an original emptiness that makes it visible.

Simultaneously to having a very refined form that establishes dialogue with the long tradition of painting, with masters such as Rothko, André Ricardo’s work also addresses the world that surrounds it. In a city such as São Paulo, where dumpsters and bulldozers are nearly omnipresent, where we bump into them at almost every corner, the primary motive of his paintings is not only an alibi to deal with metaphysical issues.

All the more so because the entire spiritual or metaphysical dimension of the work does not take place outside of it, in a transcendent world or in an ideal space; these issues emerge inside the work, in the field of immanence. These works are more than empty forms; they contain clearly identifiable prosaic figures that are openly connected with the artist’s life story. For a short period of time, André Ricardo worked at a building materials store, where he directly came in touch with roll-offs. He unloaded many of them and had a harsh experience with these empty spaces.

The Escavadeiras [Bulldozers], which in the show are hung near the floor, in the actual height these machines work, have a strong presence. And the power of emptiness emerges precisely from the anonymous bulldozers with aggressive claws that seem not to be operated by anyone. In a city where constructions are demolished in a second, soon being replaced by huge buildings, these paintings, more than addressing the emptiness of life and of urban landscape, reveal their depth through color.