Outside working hours
Centro Cultural São Paulo
São Paulo, 2003
The works of Fernando Vilela, no matter what language they are in, handle their forms with acuity. Even when they seem scratched or spongy, they are always whole and well-defined. After all, they have to be distinct and clear about their function within the whole. They therefore stand forth as strong elements that play a decisive and independent role in the composition, as if they could be picked free, like things, and held in hand.
The curious part is that this appears in works emphatically interested in solid, weighty skillfully-crafted objects. In his engravings, for example, the artist has often devoted his time to portraying ship hulls, slivers of buildings and street curbs. He draws upon these themes in order to relate planar, none-too-solid faces, as if building a castle out of playing cards.
Other themes in Vilela’s graphic production are the panel-boards, palaffites and canvas sheets of construction sites. There the artist finds in more transparent form objects that posit interrelating planar surfaces that create a cohesive unity that allows us to call that series of facets a single thing. However, the artist does not work with these planes in search of a point of convergence. Quite the contrary, in these engravings the flat forms seem to flee their most elementary figurative function and strive to establish autonomous relationships with one another, thus extrapolating upon their previous configuration.
In his sculptures, though the artist deals with volumes in a more evident manner, this relationship seems to be radicalized somewhat. In these works, Vilela incrusts metal plates and compacted masses of cement. The different colors of each suggest a contrast, with one material apparently estranged from the other, though this distinction paradoxically breeds proximity transforming the whole into interrelated planes. The action of the concrete on the metal makes surface of everything. The faces of the concrete blocks are set to function off-duty, as it were, no longer the sides of a form, but rather autonomous planes that, freed of their original role, seek new relationships with the other parts of the sculpture.
The pieces the artist exhibits at the ccsp look to amplify this relationship. Thus the faces of the sculpture contaminate the building, now seen as a series of fractioned parts that also stray from their primary functions to appear endowed with new meaning, thereby gaining in versatility.
In this manner, the cement works as a more salient continuity of the space. Like the metal plates, these volumes accompany the design of the ironwork of the ccsp gallery. The sculptural materials, like the elements of the building itself, forget their functions. In these sculptures they behave as if they were on their day off, in search of qualities that do not appear during working hours.