Carolina Ponte

Carolina Ponte

19/Mar/2011 – 23/Apr/2011

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  • Press Release

    Daniela Name

    In crochet, any stitch which goes forward must make its way back, thus completing the knot that will not prevent the fabric from fraying. The drawings and crochet works that Carolina Ponte presents in this exhibition show a moment in the artist´s career in which she makes the same movement with her own work as when she handles the needle and thread.

    If one day crochet was a form of rest to the weariness of drawing – or a manner of drawing with more fluidity –, today drawing has transformed itself into something more cohesive and structured thanks to the artist’s practice as a weaver sculptor. When a work can fold upon itself it means that it has gained structure – and the use of this last word is not by chance, since the shapes and patterns of Carolina’s most recent works are directly linked to the architecture and to the construction of a very peculiar universe.

    The artist learned how to crochet because she wanted new clothes for her dolls. She would get rid of the old ones and create new designs, that would later on also become outdated and make their way into the discarded pile along with the original models. Needle and spools of thread were kept in constant activity, almost obsessively, with manual labor serving as the motor for weaving her own universe.

    Not long after she abandoned her dolls she discovered that she wanted to be an artist and took her first steps in painting. Her passages through the Escola de Belas Artes of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and through the classrooms of Parque Lage made her discover a new language, that of drawing, but also intimidated her. The waters of a river might not always be contained in the shorelines imposed upon them. And the artist bore a type of internal flooding within herself, drowning her impulses in the fear of not complying with the models. Most would quit at this stage. Carolina survived by rediscovering her workflow.

    The outburst of this dam gave itself out as an edgy piece, in 2006, which is a drawing, but also painting and sculpture. Supplied with an arsenal of colored beads and bugle beads, she produced a string extending nearly a hundred meters, in which she created a sequence of colors that could be a direct path to the kaleidoscopic and lucid geometry of Paul Klee. Or a nephew of Medusa (1969), a classic by Amélia Toledo. With the string, Carolina rediscovered the pleasure of a mechanic execution, close to meditation, today an indivisible feature from her trajectory. To free one’s mind with hard and repetitive work is a form of meditation that harmonizes the shapes and colors in their rightful places.

    It is curious to have remembered Amélia Toledo when speaking of flow, since the Medusa is made up of plastic tubes filled with colored liquid. Although she has never used water or fluids in her works, Carolina migrated from the beads and bugle beads to a type of drawing in which the colored areas seemed to float on the space of the paper. In some of them, the application of a "watery droplet" of paint in the background reinforces this impression of a silent underwater world, where the shapes and forms attract or repel each other according to their chromatic vibration.

    In crochet, any stitch which goes forward must make its way back – as mentioned above. In transforming herself into the prodigal daughter of her first creative impulse and returning to weaving, Carolina could, at last, take possession of her territory. Initially a recreational pastime to drawing, crochet became a different form of drawing, soon occupying space with shapes that would drip down to the floor or that would escalate up to the ceiling in an almost liquid rhythm, as a source of incessant outpouring or even smaller leaks, droplets and infiltrations.

    The colorful mandalas made of thread took Carolina on a much deeper dive into the universe of pattern. After that, the former designer of doll clothes has been creating an artistic repertoire not far from that of fashion, so much from the classics of Pucci to the contemporary pattern creations of Catalina Estrada. Ornament, always having been a "beauty under suspicion" (1) and absolutely seductive, could also bring her closer to the paintings by Beatriz Milhazes, while the crochet, this such unusual support, could take her all the way to Leda Catunda, Ernesto Neto, Marcos Cardoso or to the embroidery by Leonilson.

    The journey I take through the artist's river is, however, somewhat longer, especially after having seen her more recent works. Her detailed and almost compulsive drawings come very close to the Baroque style, not only because of its excessive atmosphere and its counter-positioning of colors, but for creating a type of composition that goes back and forth to its theme, adding to it, in each return, a little more information.

    To look at the artist’s drawings or to see one of her sculptures is like listening to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, in which a violin executes the base melody, constantly, but at each restart there enters a new instrument, with another musical phrasing. The returns to the first notes stir up an accumulation of melodies and diverse sonorities, however without, at any point, hiding the initial structure.

    To ornate is to differentiate. In her recent drawings, Carolina takes hold of Egyptian, Oriental, Latin American and Brazilian patterns to create a sort of particular lexicon, close to the Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856 by Owen Jones. With this patterning she constructs blazons and flags that remind us of Rococo much more for the architectural plans of its churches (2) – with the nave being divided into multiple lateral altars – than for the evident citation of floral and maritime themes or the volutes and other shapes typical of the style. The relationship with architecture is also strengthened in the three-dimensional pieces. They have received wooden mounting that serve as support and ornament at the same time.

    Any stitch which goes forward must make its way back to the knot. Whenever she returns to the main river of her work, Carolina redraws her navigation map with the discovery of new creeks, proving to be the captain of her own boat.

    (1) PAIM, Gilberto. A beleza sob suspeita – O ornamento em Ruskin, Lloyd Wright, Loos, Le Corbusier e outros. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2000.
    (2) OLIVEIRA, Myriam Andrade Ribeiro de. O Rococó Religioso no Brasil e seus antecedentes europeus. São Paulo: Cosac Naify, 2003.

    Critical essay