evangelina seiler

THE BOOK Bodies, letters and some animals is more than a book, it’s a work of art that presents works of art and, therefore, a beautiful meta-literary and meta-artistic discourse on the importance of the work of art. The Calmon-Stock Collection, in turn, is more than a collection – one could say it is a residential curatorship based on the association of familiar objects and chosen works.

Curious, instigating and private, the Calmon-Stock Collection portrays two collectors who choose their pieces regardless of external interests. The ensemble’s coherence is established by, and solely by, the collectors – so much so that the book Bodies, letters and some animals feels almost like a biography, practically a family album, an autobiography that goes well beyond the inclusion of photographs of the inside of their apartment, of their pet dog, of the subtle picture frame on the shelf, and of the collectors’ familiar intimacy with their works of art.

As soon as we open the book, we see Fernando de La Rocque’s bodies, swiftly followed by Omar Salomão’s letter-based poetics.

Fernando de La Rocque projects the Kama Sutra on tiles, a side of his work founded on an orgy devoid of pornography and filled with fecundation, plural and multicolored, multiracial. Apocalipo de Dostoievskiville, for example, promotes a dialogue across time between insects from Dostoyevsky’s subsoil, from the Karamazov family and from Kafka’ Metamorphosis, redefining them decades later.

Also in the collection, José Damasceno evidences his instigating presence by provoking mental and emotional restlessness, leading the aesthetic imagination – of an often simple beauty – to associations that go beyond the piece’s construct, which is, however, so grand that it can become content with itself. Camila Soato, in turn, seems to restructure the Goya masks in pieces filled with mockery and sarcasm, such as Sorceresses 8 and Sorceresses 10, both from 2015. In Divas 8, also from 2015, strokes of bright red transvert the pompous king’s power into a made-up and carnivalized drag queen. The artist seems to eternally and overtly play with perversion, painting both the reality of adult life and the images from childhood with a great deal of sexuality and without any naivety.

Gabriel Centurión makes a strong social-political speech, at times pointing his finger at devouring consumerism, as is the case in A nossa ampulheta está caindo e a gente não sabe quantos grãos ainda faltam (Our hourglass is falling and we don’t know how many grains remain), and at others to the subjective emptiness that reaches extraordinary force as it denounces the isolation of solitude, a solitude still alive even in the caricaturesque or artificial images of his animal figures – heroic or playful, and even childlike – because these images, too, always depict a person on their own, abandoned onto themselves.

Cabelo shows how well he has been able to use the street code since the beginning of his artistic career, which gives it a sense of being somewhere between a mantra and a political motto, a fine delicacy that can transform a street kid into Buddah. Cabelo’s words mix, forming landscapes; amongst human and animal figures, they create an intense optic vibration with their letters of vibrantly varying sizes and colors. Rafael Adorjan, in turn, works on his images on positive and negative, prints them on adhesive paper and pastes them onto unrecorded vinyl records. Specifically in Hi-Fi # Mulher Terra vol. 2, the artist refers to the feminist movement and pays homage to the Cuban artist Ana Mendieta as he works with impossibility, the absence of voice in this universe that, together with that of other genders, fights simply for the freedom of being and living according to one’s own preferences and reasons.

UPON OBSERVING Leonardo Fanzelau’s pieces, one notices – not only in the petroglyph found within Ovo de Lascaux or the perspective of life and death, sacred and profane, that exists in the untitled piece where eggs pierced by nails cross paths in a cruel and precise movement over an episcopal-purple pillow – that the Calmon-Stock Collection systemically identifies the collectors’ biographical presence through characters and issues that repeat themselves throughout the pages of the book. The collection ends up revealing a confession through the artistic choices, in a great collage that presents the collectors’ affections, pains, and interdictions while, at the same time, announcing enormous tranquility in coexisting with images so strong and filled with meaning as the frightening, dreadful and transforming figures made by Argentinians Gabriel Grün and Lorena Guzman.

The pieces in the Calmon-Stock Collection, a collection far beyond usual, could be works of art that the collectors themselves would have come up with if they were artists. The collectors’ even exhibit the profound conversations they have with themselves, generously sharing their preferences with the audience through the catalogue. The dialogue clearly established between the collectors, the works of art and the collection brings home what the world sometimes ignores, or tries to ignore, but which, to the collectors, proves essential in order to understand their souls.

EVANGELINA SEILER is a curator and art consultant. She researches contemporary art history and has worked at the Center for Contemporary Art in Geneva in the late 80s and 90s. Through her familiarity with artists and curators of those generations, she seeks to understand the politics of art and what moves the artist. She was the director of Casa França Brasil from 2009 to 2014.