Ilka Lemos


Rua 13

Juliana Monachesi


On this Friday, 13, of severe winter here in São Paulo, I see on Instagram that Manga went to see the exhibition before everyone else! I think of the beauty of serendipity (which has nothing to do with "chance"), first that of your meeting at Tinhorão Street, of you as neighbors living together; of the conversations with him that you told me about; of the late afternoon when you saw him without a jacket (in this cold! ) and asked him if he needed a coat, to which Manga answered quoting Adoniran Barbosa: "God gives the cold according to the blanket"; and your request to him to take some pictures so you could portray your new friend in one of your paintings; and finally this visit, at the preview of RUA13, resulting in a much more exclusive than those VIP previews crowded with "important people". The painting that was named Manga is the most recent of the whole exhibition, and was the last one we decided upon, which was still finishing to dry, remember?


I think of the poetry of the gesture the model made when posing for the photo, throwing his arms back, as if about to take off. None of this is by chance. The painting evokes all that series that you exhibited in Araçatuba, of characters who attended the mass and of whom you made great portraits, entitled “Discovered/ Uncovered Saints”. I remember one Sunday at RUA13 when you told us that this title is related to the heavy atmosphere of the sculptures covered with purple cloths in church during Lent; a sight that saddened you, until you realized that saints were not those images sculpted under the purple cloth, but people weakened by health problems or financial difficulties who went to mass in search of some kind of miracle. Saints are the souls oppressed by the precariousness of life, the socially invisible, left on the margins, forgotten. Saint is Manga announcing his flight, as if he were an angel.


I see in RUA13's opening show this restlessness and rebellion against the failure of the modern project that promised freedom, equality, and fraternity. It is part of what drives your creations: to discover the ills of the world, to pull down the curtains that cause this general blindness, to peel back the varnish that hides the ruin of "golden ages" that only shone at the cost of people’s suffering behind the scenes, to uncover the pain confined in the name of some absolutely false and manipulative value that justified the construction of this "civilization" in which we live. And that it was built on the annihilation of the previous ones. Many layers of history, the great History of humanity, as well as the small history of human lives that orbit the space where your gaze and sensibility reach, starting with your own, are alive and pulsating in the exhibited works. The triptych that is on the right side of “Manga” (2021), “Fragments”, accompanied by “Oriental Master” (from the Guardian series), both 2021 (the triptych and the bronze sculpture) and two other works, “Expulsion from Paradise” (2019), in resin marble, and “Torso” (2019), made of plaster, form a polyptych created especially for the exhibition, which I consider a synthesis of your artistic trajectory: there are gathered different supports and languages, themes and interests, presenting the breadth of your research and, above all, showing the freedom with which you transit between everything that concerns art. I admire your courage of not being bound to a style or a single language, and I see in this set the aesthetic proof that you have a wonderful coherence between the sculpture in plaster and the gesture contained in parts of your paintings, or between the breaking of the bronze's harshness by adding "grooves" to its surface, designed tom represent the guardian’s mantle, and the scratched elements on the canvas. Or, again, between the very particular representation you have created of the expulsion from paradise and the ruins of the world we have left behind since the advent of the pandemic. The staircases that no longer lead anywhere, the majestic tiles, the sumptuous embrace of the curtains: your elegant way of showing that we have all been expelled from the illusion that we inhabited paradise.


The world has changed. And every time I visit RUA13 I feel transported to another place, a place that I am beginning to know, to feel, where I sense that things happen and transform at a different pace, an environment embraced by renewing energies, by inspiration, by delight and grace. Could it be a space that was born thought out for a world that has already changed? I can't answer that, but I can, in this letter that I am writing to you this Friday the 13th, venture a guess: I think that RUA13 is a place that exists to prepare us for the new world. Because the works exhibited in this beautiful opening show make us think about the human condition, suggest us to look around and pay more attention to the silent change that is in process every day, every hour, every microsecond. I thank you very much for the opportunity you gave me to closely follow this whole process of transmutation of this house into RUA13, since May until now, on the eve of the opening, when, every moment beside you, I learn something new. It is an honor for me to be part of this story, which, in fact, is just beginning!

See you Sunday!

With love,