José Bechara is one of the most interesting artists in the Brazilian contemporary art scene. He started a career as a painter, with a radically reduced form of language, committed, even today, to concrete art in the broadest sense of the word. It is his notion and his deep understanding of the building structures that form the inner skeleton of his paintings, which modulate nuclei in a type of unlimited, floating space. From square figures with arrangements and degrees of rigid lines, his paintings oscillate between the concreteness of shapes and structures and the inconcreteness of space. Together, these elements resemble the movement of a pendulum, between free abstract brushstrokes, colored paint and geometric shapes, which, in turn, look different within that space. However, it is also clear that the artist’s focus is always on penetrating space and understanding its dimensions in perception. The concrete and the non-concrete are grounded directly at the level of possible perspectives.

Some geometric shapes are exposed in Bechara’s sculptures, in their repeated square shapes, which also play with the concept of series structures. With their random opening and mobility, they offer all the possibilities to be adjusted to the chosen spaces. This adjustment to any type of space is a conceptual idea aimed directly at the viewer or collector, who is asked to “use” a sculpture for their own purpose. Everything that is changed by the viewer is part of the concept, which only revolves around this idea of ​​space, which consists of several classifications – all of which are sought after and invisible.

Bechara’s new glass works are, therefore, a logical continuation of his previous and even more conceptual work. Based on the solid materiality of glass, they are both a factual element and, thus, a barrier in the continuous spectrum of space, as well as an apparently invisible fact, which does not create any barrier between the viewer and the space. They are, therefore, a contradiction in itself, questioned only by the various items that Bechara combines with the glass plates, such as a red grid, a silver head (self-portrait of the artist) or small wrapped and colored packages. Sometimes, several layers of glass plates form, at the same time, a geometric structure and an object, which not only makes the transparency visible, but also reflects the solidity of the square shapes. In contemporary art, glass is a newly explored material. Famous artists, such as Pierre Soulages, Gerhard Richter and Ai Weiwei, experimented with it. José Bechara’s glass works highlight the conceptual perception of Brazilian constructivism and transfer it to a contemporary approach.

Prof. Dr. Beate Reifenscheid

Director of the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany.

Text written for the exhibition Fluxo Bruto, by José Bechara, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2017.