In Search of New Territories
On the first sight of a Cassio Leitão’s painting, viewers will identify familiar objects and places that will ignite their curiosity and they will look again, this time they will see another object, another place, a window, a space that leads to another, a color block which may direct their eyes to a color field, and soon they will find themselves within a new universe which is not altogether alien but nevertheless intriguing.
The abstract paintings of Brazilian contemporary artist Cassio Leitão, could be an invitation to a parallel world. Fantasy landscapes simultaneously resemble animals, objects and abstract shapes simplified to color. His work is both spontaneous and considered as it emits a sense of controlled exploration but with a fluid energy.
Leitão’s practice seems to follow Fluxus’ ideas of perpetual activity and change with an influence of the Neo-Dada’s appropriation of everyday objects, fragments of imagery and even images of other artists.
The key to Leitão’s narrative is accumulation where the juxtaposition of elements is hinged to a concept of experimentation and adventure. His work embodies exclusive moments made of life’s commonalities, the mundane here that looks exquisite there, realities placed on another realm or the routine turned magical.
Leitão may seek, through his work, to subvert his own physical existence by experimenting with a myriad of combinations of settings and perspectives drawn from his ecology and milieu to create new concepts or new paradigms.
The artist’s studio in São Paulo is a large underground space inside an old office building which he shares with two other artists. On my arrival, Cassio is there, looking pretty astute, among many objects, paints, brushes, paper, computer, photos and paintings, like a professor searching for a discovery however, Cassio disregards any kind of final result as he prefers the endlessness of everything.
CB: What drives you to work as an artist and as a painter?
CL: I always have strong emotional reactions when observing some particular paintings therefore, through my work, I seek to cause a visual impact on viewers , not in a sense of a shock but as an emotional arrest. I seek to get a hold of observants and take them for a ride through the images I produce, hopefully, on the very same way they were traced.
CB: Do you have a special technique or method used in your practice to achieve this particular emotional reaction on viewers?
CL: I have chosen, among the many pictorial possibilities, not to use classical representation but instead to seek this impact through synthesis - simplifying and fortifying the use of form and colour. I am talking about pure painting here where the drawing is a supporting technique whose power comes from the paint medium itself, from the gesture and from the material.
I seek, besides the synthesis, the multiplicity. Each of my paintings possesses its own particular thoughts, however I do not get attached to them and soon make another painting, since that one thought took me to another, leading to an infinite chain of pictorial narratives.
CB: Would you say that your work focus on the process as opposed to the end result?
CL: Like many painters I consider the process a fundamental part of making a painting. To start with a concept or a project in mind do not stop my pictorial construction, its questions and challenges to evolve on their own particular chaotic way, balancing materiality and deconstruction, usually, exceeding expectations.
I am quite interested in the experimental, in the error and the marks left by the process, like Richard Diebenkorn argues, “there isn’t anything which I cannot paint over”.
CB: What are your influences?
CL: I like to think of Italo Calvino saying “ who are we, other than a accumulation of experiences, information, readings and imagination? Each life is a library, an inventory of objects, samples of styles where everything can be continuing remixed and reordered in every possible way”.
There is no linear narrative on my paintings but a flux of happenings which can be at times expanding or contracting and at others contradicting or accumulative. I come up with an aspect here, a pictorial solution, a form and colour which can be all applied again there only at this time from a different perspective, in another colour; it is all inconclusive and potentially infinite.
Phaidon, 'The 20th Century Book of Art, 1996, p 507
Cassio Leitão (São Paulo, 1962) Graduate at university FAAP in 1985. Leitão's practice is shared by the visual arts, graphic design, photography and painting, with the latter being his main activity. He lives and works in São Paulo.
2016 MUnA Museu Universitário de Arte da Universidade Federal de Uberlandia / MG. 2015 MAB Museu de Arte de Blumenau / SC.
2015 MARCO Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Mato Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande / MS. 2014 MAB Museu de Arte de Blumenau / SC.
2014 UNESC Universidade do Sul Catarinense, Criciuma / SC.
2014 MARCO Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Mato Grosso do Sul, Campo Grande / MS. 1994 Galeria Gumercindo, São Paulo / SP.
1989 Espaço OFF, São Paulo / SP.
2015 Complexo Cultural, Janelas (com Jair Bortoleto), Santos / SP.
2015 Urbanopop, São Paulo / SP.
2015 Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Map of the New Art, Veneza / Italia.
2015 Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Escola Entrópica, Sã Paulo / SP.
2015 Auditório Ibiraquera, Festivalma’15 - Board Connection, São Paulo / SP. 2015 Matilha Cultural, Conectearte, São Paulo / SP.
2014 21o Salão de Artes Plasticas de Praia Grande / SP.
2014 Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Núcleo do olhar, São Paulo / SP. 2014 MARP Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto / SP.
2013 Galeria Espaço Escultural, São Paulo / SP.
2013 Casa de Cultura, Premio Belvedere, Paraty / RJ.
2012 Fundação Bienal, Festivalma’12, São Paulo / SP.
2011 Fundação Bienal, Festivalma’11, São Paulo / SP.
2009 Fundação Bienal, Festivalma’09, São Paulo / SP.
2007 Galeria Mezanino, São Paulo / SP.
1991 Espaço Til, São Paulo / SP.
1990 Espaço Phaton, São Paulo / SP.
MARCO Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Mato Grosso do Sul.
UNESC Universidade do Sul Catarinense.
MAB Museu de Arte de Blumenau.
Imago Mundi, Luciano Benetton Collection.