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Journey on the Royal Road

Did we ever arrive at our destination? Or did the trip continue to run into our lives as we returned to the big city?

The purpose seemed from the beginning an essentially romantic idea: an American artist and a Brazilian one left New York and São Paulo for an itinerant residency in the cities on the Royal Road in Minas Gerais. In the style of expeditions made by European travellers in the 19th century, they imagine a nature that is both frightening and welcoming, between the sublime and the picturesque. They carry canvas, brushes and oil paint in the trunk of a 4x4; they set up an easel and worktable in hotel rooms, one of them overlooking the 12 apostles of Aleijadinho, in Congonhas do Campo. It wasn't exactly an open-air studio, but it was almost.


Or, in this case, it was even better: the Baroque from Minas Gerais became the starting point and a common interest between the two young artists, Matheus Chiaratti and Daniel DiFerdinando. Painting with eyes fixed on Aleijadinho's soapstone sculptures was perhaps the highest experience in the search for that imaginary so well represented there. But this was not a trip with definite purposes other than a vague idea of what was being sought. “Did we really arrive at our destination? Or did the trip continue to happen in our lives when we returned to the big city? ”, writes Dan a few days after arriving in São Paulo.


For him, who was visiting the country for the first time, the experience was even more intense and almost always synesthetic. Words from a new vocabulary that would later become visual elements in the composition of some paintings; stories not understood through language were accessed by their sound or lip reading. Perhaps because of the language barrier, his interest in the local landscape gradually gained strength. In an attempt to map that unknown nature, there are flowers placed under a grid design or cartographic images of the gold route. In another set, representation becomes the opposite of this rationality: the mountain takes on the shape of a golden pyramid in lines that approach a primitive design and almost psychedelic shapes.


In Matheus' paintings, which start from another vocabulary and color palette, an exhibition about Alberto da Veiga Guignard seen in Ouro Preto may have left a certain influence on the images of a vertical landscape, almost without perspective. The interest in objects of the local popular culture - which for a long time were relegated to lower classifications, in the sphere of handicrafts - was also contaminating both artists. Works made on pieces of wood found along the trip appear as a result of this dialogue, creating a point of contact between two such different types of production.


But the construction of a local imaginary goes far beyond what was seen there. The stories and legends about the magic of the Rio das Mortes and the war of the Emboabas, the Capão da Traição or the bloodshed that resulted in the Inconfidência, all of this will still remain on the journey that certainly continues when it arrives back at its destination.

Nathalia Lavigne


O Caminho da Estrada Real (Journey on the Royal Road)

Matheus Chiaratti and Daniel DiFerdinando

Opening: 6 September 2017, 7:30pm

Until October

BREU | Rua Barra Funda, 444, São Paulo

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