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Gustavo von Ha and Ruffled Painting

Inventário; arte outra

MAC USP 2016/ 2017




The recent work of São Paulo artist, Gustavo von Ha, reveals his new way of approaching the issue of authorship and authenticity in art, while playing with its major paradigm, i.e., painting.  Inventário; arte outra(literally, “Inventory: another art”), he presents a set of works that take modernist painting of the 1950s and 1960s, characterized by the gesture, by the expressive marks of the artist upon the surface of the canvas, as model. 


Von Ha, thus, poses as Jackson Pollock or Yves Klein, siding his own contemporary versions of such artists with canvases overloaded of paint, as if they were almost sculptural objects. The latter are produced by erasing the artist’s gesture, as they are the result of scraping away an existing painting, which patches of paint is deposited in another canvas. Painting is then literally ruffled and undone to create such works. 


But painting is also ruffled in its heroic aspect, in its affirmation of artistic personality, and artist's individuality. Not only von Ha's works are born out of imitation, challenging the notion of the single, authentic, individual gesture of the artist, but they do not want to be painting. They refer to iconic works by modernist painters, yet they are recombined and reinvented, while not being recognizable anymore.


MAC USP has drawings that von Ha created by copying Tarsila do Amaral's ones, a film and a fake trailer, the latter produced by the also ficticious Heist Filmes. The exhibitions we now present of his works can be seen as a new chapter on his defying the narrative of modern art and the art system that stemmed out of it, thus questioning its institutionalization and its master narrative. Because it takes abstract expressionism and other gestural trends of the 1950s and the 1960s, von Ha makes us see these less privileged currents in our art history, throwing light of other works and artists in our own collection, like Karel Appel's “Tragic Head” (in exhibition at the museum's 7thflorfloorpermanentpermanent show at the 7th floor).


Ana Magalhães

curator MAC USP

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