Leitura: 6 min

Letter to Amilcar de Castro


I finally got to visit your exhibit at Praça da Liberdade.  As Affonso Ávila must have told you, that place has become a procession of cultural centers, a corridor or something of the kind.  In the cultural center that belongs to a bank, they have now put together an exhibit with your work.  I have to confess that it took me a while to find all the rooms, but when I found my way in the galleries, I once again heard your voice on the back of my mind, that sound of thunder that showed me the way almost two decades ago.  Maybe you wouldn’t be as disturbed by the colorful walls as I was – after all, you’ve always said those colors of yours were not actual colors in the pictorial sense, but rather graphic chromatic information.  You might have been able to explain to me why the exhibit doesn´t have any historical works, as if you didn’t need them even 10 years after your passing.  And why the works displayed represent a few of your collections, all in Minas, and why not a single museum was asked to make one of your sculptures available – I can think at least of Pampulha, that place to which to have donated such beautiful and important pieces of your work, even though the Museum of Modern Art in Rio, MAM, has also gotten an equal share of your work.   You might have been able to answer me in a slightly serious, yet ironic, way, that if it hadn’t been for this partiality, it would have been for another one.  You might have said that everything in the world is relative. I will never forget the time we met in Vitória, where I went especially to see your exhibit, a stunning exhibit, and you asked me, “did you come here only for this?”.  Did you mean that? I’ll never know.

Walking around those rooms today has brought me once again closer to you. What else can one ask of an exhibit?  I’m aware that just before we lost you, you had had some of the most prolific years of your work, the most genius years, yet, I doubt it would have been any different in the previous decades.  Based on this exhibit, one could hardly tell.  But, what the heck, you hated the idea of change.  I recall the many times I called you to comment on one of your exhibits, or a new artwork, and the fear with which you always tried to dissuade me from the idea that something could have changed.  Wood? It is the same as Cor-ten.  Glass? You already did it in the 1950s? You did it in New York. Color? Didn’t I already know it? In this exhibit, almost everything was from the late 90s. I once again saw the most beautiful woods (nearly 100) and expressive cut-by-cut and folded sets, especially in those in small scale, which is what their space allows them to do.  In one of the rooms, the larger sculptures do so much for our bodies, and I had almost forgotten, so much I saw their photographs.  Your work as an engraver (which you used to say was just another way of drawing) was treated with rare earnestness. It was a pleasure to see that.  But, then, maybe everything is life is nothing but just another way of drawing.  Or, for me, of writing.  And I still want to see you being scrutinized, dated, synthetizing Max Ball before everyone else, back in 1953, essential, vital, central in the recipe for neoconcretism, as big as those who considered you a peer of their own magnitude.  This time will come and I’ll keep on waiting, until maybe one day I do it myself.  It seems to me that the difference between scale and size is one of your most important lessons – how monumental those small sculptures are, full of imagination, and what a sense of duration they bear, which is so liberating when it comes to seductively phony dogmas of nearly unintelligible  art.

As I went down the stairs in the old building, Belo Horizonte, dressed up as São Paulo, wasn’t immune to you, and the metalworks, stuccos and stained glass windows celebrated your presence and took pride in your company.  Outside, in the exit, the world was not immune to you.  And every straight angle, every time glass met with concrete, each modernist deviation, Minas Caixa and Ipsemg buildings, Rua Goiás, Carol stationary, existed in the same everlasting way your work exists.  After you, we will never be indifferent to form.

During one of our last conversations, you told me you were happy with your last exhibit at Pinacoteca.  Writing to the paper, I quoted you, “I don’t think it is bad, it is a pleasure for me to do it.  I like the way they arranged things”.  As I mentioned back then, “it looks simple”.  It still isn´t.

Grateful affection from just another one of your students,


Belo Horizonte, December 14, 2013.

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