Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Walking Work of Art

I had the pleasure of meeting Raimundo Rodriguez yesterday. I liked him. He was intense, cool, passionate, complex, warm and INSPIRING! ......a walking 'obra de arte'. I can't possibly do this man justice in words but I'll try to paint the picture for you.

I was visiting his new gallery - Caza Arte Contemporanea. I'd been there before and thought I'd pop-in and say hello again. It just so happened he was there.

Whilst entering from across the street I noticed 3 people jiggling around with the front window display. I took a pic.

Upon entering, I introduced myself to Salgueiro whome I'd met before. He in-turn introduced me to Raimundo and Luiza (Raimundo's side-kick). With a suspicious glance 'this guy' Raimundo invited me to pull up a chair.

Of course I did not know who Raimundo was. As far as I was concerned he was some 'tin-pot gallery' owner. I could tell he had energy. Little did I know how much.

I explained in my best Portuguese "I would like to meet contemporary artists Raimundo, and put them on my blog. I want to promote contemporary artists of Rio. Could you help me?" With a tilt of the head he said " Oh, you're the guy on Facebook who wrote that comment. Right. Okay - oh, you live in Rio. I thought you lived overseas. Okay - you live here". Mmmmm.... well I thought, at least I passed the 'ignorant gringo' roadblock. He went on, "Well, we run a collective of artists and the gallery is an outlet for their work. We work together, and support each other. If someone wants to sell or promote our artwork, they sell the collective as a group".

I like collectives - it's my socialist bent. " Cool' I said.

Over the next hour or more Raimundo showed me through his website, and other links a television interview, video's, art, sculptures, and installations of his work. Very quickly I began to understand what this man has done for the contemporary art scene in Rio de Janeiro.

There aren't many guys like Raimundo in this world - driven by his passion for art and it's role in society he plainly gives of himself to build the cultural web of his collective, and of the wider community. He showed me this amazing sculpture he made depicting 'waves' with sound and movement. An incredible installation of his memories covering 'walls' within a gallery which took 4 years to construct. Performance art of a magnitude that had me stuttering for words. I was amazed.

He said " Do you know Bispo Rosario Robert". "No, whose he" I asked, eyebrows raised. "Who is he"? Raimundo responded slightly dismayed? He is the person who has influenced almost every contemporary artist in Brazil. Bispo Rosario is the inventor of contemporary art in Brazil. Every artist is influenced in some way, shape or form by Arthur".

Raimundo went on "Bispo (Arthur) Rosario Robert - was a Bishop who received a message from God. God said, Bispo Rosario, you must collect everything you encounter in life, and categorize it. So that's what he did. But he was a bit crazy, a bit crazy". I looked at Raimundo and said "I think you are too" smiling. He smiled back and said "you have to be a bit crazy to be an artist Robert".

Then Raimundo proceeded to show me some of his work. I said "Oh, Bispo is the Duchamp of Brazil". Raimundo retorted "Duchamp, Duchamp - let me show you, look at this, look at this". And there it was on the computer screen in front of me - Bispo - a la Duchamp, followed by another work, and another, and another. It was clear to me the influence Bispo Rosario had on Raimundo. I could see Bispo Rosario, through the eyes of Raimundo. He was so inspired, impassioned, excited by Bispo's work.

At about this time another gentleman quietly entered the gallery. Raimundo introduced me. The chap then pondered the art on display whilst I continued my lesson in Brazilian Art with Raimundo. We watched as the gentleman picked up a small plastic envelope, which he gave to Luiza. Raimundo turned on his pedestal, and said to the man "What's it worth'. How much" They laughed, and the man gave Luisa $20.00 Reias. They posed for a photo together.

After this, Raimundo turned to me and asked "what is the value of a piece of art Robert" and handed me one of these plastic envelopes. Contained inside was a $100,000.00 cruziero bill. I remembered that this was the currency used before the Real. I remembered back to 1993 when I visited Brazil and queued at the bank for an hour or so each day to withdraw cash. The inflation rate was running at about 3 percent a day, so everyone was diving in and out of the bank and spending only what they needed for the following 24 hours. It was a nightmare.

Stamped on the cruziero were the words. What is a work of art? What is the value of a work of art? How much does a work of art cost? Pay for this work of art what value you think you should. Imagine the perifery. And it was signed 'Raimundo Rodriguez'.

"What value' Robert. Do you understand? What value does a work of art have? Raimundo demanded, in a way dancing with the bill in hand, looking at everyone, seemingly delighted at the prospect.

Well, of course it doesn't have any value I thought. He had me on the back foot. A plastic envelope and a tatty old cruziero bill? It isn't worth anything. I was trying to'imagine the perifery'.

What artwork? Was Raimundo referring to this tatty bill in an envelope as an artwork?

My mind was ticking. Was it Brazil's Duchamp at work? It was signed "Raimundo Rodriguez'. Mmmm ....but I can't afford it.

I searched through my wallet, and I had the sum total of $12.00 Reias. Just enough to get home, and buy something to eat. Well, I stammered " Raimundo, I understand - but I only have $12.00 Reias". "It doesn't matter Robert. What you pay doesn't matter. That is not the point!".

So, I paid what I could. The princely sum of $5.00 Reias for a work by a master of contemporary art.

Soon after I had to excuse myself as I had another engagement and so, regretfully I left.On reflection it's now clear to me Raimundo is Brazil's living Bispo Rosario. It's on plain veiw for all to see through his art. I'm sure his entire collective know it. Now, I do too.

By the way, you can join Raimondo on facebook right here.

No comments:

Post a Comment