Text for the exhibition Horizontais: Elizabeth Jobim - Gabinete de Arte Raquel Arnaud, São Paulo - 2007
English translation by Stephen Berg
In somewhat simplified form, it may be possible to interpret the transition from drawing to painting in Elizabeth Jobim’s most recent work as the transformation of still life into landscape. I am naturally not thinking of those genres in any traditional sense. We know that the arrangements of rocks present as the “subject” of the artist’s drawings in fact responded to various questions ranging from the incompleteness and transitory quality of perception to the dialectic between the internal and external spaces of things. To my way of seeing, however, even in the montages of sheets of paper (2000/2001), a certain intimacy is preserved, a structuring that still appears to be deeply marked by the inconstancy of the gaze, by an indistinctiveness between the interiority of subject and object, engendering worlds about to collapse (1).
Such arrangements have been amplified and passed onto the canvas. And what I see are landscapes, fragmented vistas of an architecture penetrated by air. Their horizontal, decentralized rhythms recall the outlines of a world that is solid yet which cannot be grasped through a continuous addition of its parts. Such a space no longer appears to live under the threat of a centripetal force. It has become externalized and expands within an airy, white flatness.
In comparison to the paintings presented in 2005, the artist’s recent work is apparently a concentrated investigation of the conquest of this new space. There is a stronger presence of the masses of blue color, and the alternating rhythm between dilation and contraction has been emphasized. As they absorb our gaze for more than a few moments, their transparency brings a morose tempo to the expansive, horizontal progress of the paintings, simultaneously fluctuating yet contained by lines or edges that keep them stable even as they pulsate. The opacity of gray –a new element in these paintings– seems to respond, particularly in the great triptych of 2006, to a dialectic that directs the works’ spatiality. It establishes a relationship between two colors which, in their interlaced forms, carry on a private dialogue. Without ever being superimposed upon one another, they weave the open architecture of the paintings.
This return to landscape is assuredly not a question of objective will to apprehend the exterior world or to organize nature with greater or lesser degrees of verisimilitude. Standing before Elizabeth Jobim’s light, solid constructions, I am reminded of the amplitude of Alfredo Volpi’s façades or the spatial dilation of Guignard’s shifting skies – a notion of space that rests in some indefinable place between the harmonic utopia of the natural world and architecture, between the city dweller’s private and public spaces and the expansive and fairly concrete experience of a late afternoon by the sea.
(1) As observed by critic Paulo Venancio Filho.