The window of my room is heavy, and I, who thought of opening it, had just noticed the violet spot on its ledge. It was not violet – I knew – it was desirous purple.I touched the color and brought my fingers closer to my nose. I had confirmed it: oil paint with banana oil. But how did it get here? My eyes roamed the room in pursuit if the color’s trail: fingers, the ledge, the corner of the table, the wallet, the cell phone, the jeans pocket, the backpack. There was at least a tablespoon of paint on the left pocket of that bag.
Half an hour before I had come home, taken the bag off my back, emptied my pockets, and closed the window.
Six hours before had arrived at Gilvan Nunes’ house for one of our afternoons: trade, hard work, and affinity.
Anticipating what might happen, as soon as I arrived and come in through Gilvan’s kitchen door, I took all due precautions: took off the backpack, changed my pants for “painter’s shorts,” shoes for slippers, and my shirt for its absence. That smell gets me: the strong wind that blew through Gogh, Kandisky, Miro, Judit Reigl, Milhazes and his master Berredo, carries the smell of paint across to Gilvan. The bar delivery had already come, and I filled my glass before descending to the downstairs studio.
For 5 hours or 5 lives, we talked about the hours and the lives: about us, about art, and partnership, we had our own dynamic: no scheduled interviews or conversations. We had our afternoons. Sometimes he made me paint a background on the canvas, sometimes he asked me to create some shapes on them, sometimes he made clean dozens of pots and brushes, but above all, he wanted me there to “make color”.
When we met, I was a mechanical engineering student and I shall always owe to him an important part of the great force required to create the radical changes at that time. Today, in retrospect, we realize that the dynamics of those afternoons of painting (which we have continued eve since), besides having defined the fundamental structure of our friendship, have also given rise for the first time, the most fertile way to follow an artist: with affinity, process, and partnership.
During our meetings, for everything we did, a certain game remained as vibrant sideline activity. As we talked, socialized, he (or any friend, relative, assistant, passerby, or neighbor) invented the name of color in challenge: I then had to, from a huge array of tubes of oil paints from diverse brands and colors, make the expected tone appear. Lace green, gorgeous yellow, flesh- color, orange-almost-violet, and highway beige are examples of colors I made, or at least, I was challenged to make. I mixed so much paint, so much paint, that in one afternoon of excess, vowed that on the day that I should write about this series of paintings, I would tell everybody that I was the true maker of colors. But then, thinking better of it, I decided not to do so in order to save Nunes from not getting his praise as a great colorist.
None of the precautions I had taken upon arriving at Gilvan’s house were enough. Baron (the beloved and elegant Lord Chancellor Mutt, repugnant brigand and grand partner squire to Gilvan), who watched the daily painting spectacle, flicked his restless canine tail into a corner of a working canvas, and, on returning upstairs, made a point a of launching a petard of desirous purple at my backpack in the corner of the kitchen.
In my a room a few hours later, staring at the paint on the window ledge and remembering all the colors that the leather of my wallet had already collected on this and other occasions, I smiled knowing that, in a way, it was fulfilling its desired destiny.
The paintings from this series shown at the SIM Gallery in September 2012 are offered a distant land, they formed to our eyes as living organisms in fantasy. If they come from ecosystems of an unknown planet or if each work profiles the sight of a the diverse separate world or universe, we are not given to know. But also we are not prevented from knowing. The powerful initial uncertainty is consistent with the constantly indefinable discursive method of an artist whose words come and go from places between fact, fantasy, confusion, creation, lies, a dreamlike state and a will to truth.
Desire that mixes with pretext via the communication that one never knows will work gives way to a tone of despair. But Gilvan, using the canvas as a mirror that points to wherever you want, points out independent organisms that seem, always, intended to contact or for the use of the resources of visual rhythm and sporulation.
Using many layers of paint along with various sequences and variations of a subtractive graphism technique, Gilvan creates shapes whose surfaces have waves of the most diverse frequencies and structures that explain sequential ornaments. These may resemble actual physiological structures such as hyphae, halos, stems, eyelashes, hair, stretch marks, curves, lines, warts, gametes, scales, wrinkles etc. And the existence, appearance, and overlaying of these refer, by the use of games of repetition and overlapping for compositional arrangements, to the important series of the artist, for which Gilvan used roller-stamp patterns (done originally in the 2nd half of the last century for decorative interior painting) as essential building instruments of his paintings.
Another very recent practice in this series which also refers to experiences of Gilvan’s other moments when he began creating bastard twins of his paintings, using their own fresh paint as a matrix. Similarly, a few years ago, the artist built large stamps from rubber on wood cutouts and after the rubber was covered with paint, it was pressed on the surface of a large canvas or paper. The repetition of the technique on the same piece has a direct connection with rhythm: one of the two main features of this series we have talked about.
The second distinctive feature of this series is what we, in Gilvan’s atelier, call “sporulations.” Some of the forms overflow viscousness in semen-paint, others gush their fluids in always- potent delightful threats, others still, spreading their drops, dots, balls on their surroundings. Spores always seem determined to reach a place that they have not yet been: if the seed comes down in a rocky desert, if the implantation occurs in the richest earth or if they find their way through the air, they don’t know, nor do we. But they are destined to these occasional encounters.
In such a spectacle of daily painting, Gilvan paints as one who makes music with his body: Alternating almost silent moments of calm and subtlety with small brush in left hand and face close to the screen with explosive outbreaks during which, meters away from the painting, he wildly sticks spent brushes in paint-filled pots, sending their oily multicolored darts toward the painting. If these appear on the finished canvas to be spores from seen but unknown beings, here, the spores are from the known but unseen Gilvan, who communicates in this way. Spattered on the canvas are desperate and fantastic desire, which, to the extent possible, spatter on the observer.
Standing in my room, looking at the desirous purple on the window ledge, I laughed. I realized that it had splashed on me. And I opened the window.