Carlos Zilio (1944 - )


    One has to speak in the plural when dealing with Zilio's recent work; each canvas is a part of a larger group. The repetition, in other works, of the central element seen in this painting is a key for understanding the artist's overall project. The structural frame - the grid-fragment - that dominates this composition acts as an element in the artist's dialogue with history, which is informed by his admiration of Barnet Newman, Noland, and Stella. It also hints at the constructivist tradition in art, suggesting that the artist is aware of the particular history to which he belongs and/or from which he has emerged.

    The series 794A0 began in 1992, continuing until 2000. Each work is characterised by the canvas' being occupied by two horizontal lines and one vertical. The colours used always lie within the same range: white, black and burnt sienna. The predominant combination used is white and sienna (because this results in a colour closest to that of the skin). These basic relationships propose a surface open to pictorial experimentation, within which the variation of brushstroke, texture and tone, and also the relationship between the lines (which may be turned on their axis, or supplemented by the virtual line that results from the junction of two canvases, etc) will permit innumerable combinations. The lines may be figure or they may be ground, and this possibility annuls the existence of a singular 'composition'; the series always looks for the same thing and is always different.

    The title 794A0 refers to the code I used to open the door to my house when I lived in Paris in 1992. In a general sense, this series continues the pictorial research that I chose to be the guiding meter of my work in 1978, my experience before this having been compromised by a conceptual position. I think that this series marks a certain maturity within my work. Acting through constant re-spatialisation, this painting does not eliminate the sensible and thus deny the presence of the body, and neither does it ignore the contempory impossibility of a heroic sublime. It tries to indicate the possibility of a more colloquial, more existential sublime.

    Carlos Zilio, April 2005

    Translated from the original Portuguese by Isobel Whitelegg


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