What has no measure
Gravura Brasileira Gallery
São Paulo, 2002
Stark black masses, scratched with small cuts and sliding in gentle unbalance, stand out against a white background. It is not clear whether the volumes are unstable, tumbling in slow motion, or if the fissures indicate only discontinuities, which suggest some other plane beyond them. What is immediately discernible is the urban reference: compact blocks, blind walls; dense fractured spaces always seen as an inescapable foreground. Yet there are other elements in Fernando Vilela’s engravings that counter the idea of an urban poetic, pure and simple.
Delicate wood veins in the dense imprint lend an artisanal twist to what in the city is material opacity. Moreover, something reminiscent of fragile stilts or stake fences – the marks of urban exile – seem to support these huge blocks, evoking an uncommon association of mutually empowering opposites. This symbolic transference results in a softening of contours, evoking a black wind-thrust sail, made of cement, of wood, of stone, or of nothing at all. Or perhaps it is a close-up of a fragment of a ship’s hull. This is what his work is about: a coming and going between the plane and the space that translates, in a reading of the languages, the un-representable nature of scales. An extraordinary occult presence, levitating amongst desolate landscapes, or what can be seen of cities beyond the surfaces of their buildings, raising the question: what is that separates them, and what is it that sustains them?