The Persistence of Painting
Paulo Sergio Duarte
5ª Bienal do Mercosul - Fundação Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre - 2005
Translated by Nick Rands
We are faced with the skin of emptiness. And it envelops us as skin envelops our flesh. We are embraced by painting in this welcoming environment. We are drawn in by the space designed by the artist as skin draws in our muscles, our flesh, but it is painting. This skin has nothing to do with organic appeal, it just wants to be painting, hung on the wall, and it envelops us. What Beth asks us is all to do with the lesson of the poet of an “education by stone” – now almost literal.
It should said straight away that this environment that shelters us like a chapel consists of still lifes. This huge still life, so distant from vases of flowers and fruit on a table, is the contemporary form of that old genre. The artist draws and paints in front of tiny stones on the tables in her studio. From observation of these stones, drawn over and over again, the canvases are born. Little stones that become pictorial monuments.
Finding ourselves inside the Aberturas we are certain that she establishes the place of the body in contemplating painting, we are completely faced with a unique and panoramic whole. The city brought this possibility of seeing a multiple 360º landscape, so different from the bucolic countryside. The market, the street, the garden, cathedral, castle, convent, were all mixed in great confusion on the arrival of city life. Beth Jobim asks for order. The order of stone – hard, dry, fundamental and at the same time the material form of the poetry of a geometry twisted into single event in which figure and ground, plane and depth are intertwined to no longer exist in the blue and white painting. It is as if it were making visible a passage from João Cabral: “The moral of the tale, its cold resistance / to what flows and to flow, to being formed; / of poetics, its concrete appearance; / of economy, its compact density; / lessons of stone (from outside inwards, / silent speller), for who spells it.”