James Kudo

13/Aug/2011 – 11/Sep/2011

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  • Press Release

    Marcelo Campos

    Nature, architecture, patterns. James Kudo’s use of image is developed between constructions and threats. Flanking the herons and varied branches of vegetation, one can see chainsaws and shotguns. The forest intuited in the confusion of violet at the bottom of the painting reveals the misty building of an industrial plant. According to the artist, in his hometown, part of the landscape was razed for the construction of a hydroelectric power station.

    James Kudo addresses these matters in a unique manner. What might have been melancholic or accusative comes alive in bright colours and effects. Sometimes dealing with nature as imitation (inevitable destiny), sometimes with architecture as boxes, as if processed by industrial design. The artist never allows us access to the ideal world, as everything is mimicked like prints. Nevertheless, the Edenic character of a “topos” place inhabits utopic ideas. If we want the narrative, we will have to content ourselves with the associative, metaphoric possibilities, never the literalness. The darkness of the forest blends with parts of a building in artificialized wood. The recurrent emulation of mimickings, imitating grains of wood like adhesive surfaces, for example, contributes to the creation of dualities between denouncing and accepting the unthinkable. The industry that had practised deforestation is the same one that creates the fake surfaces, replacing wood with effects. The industrial heritage, Pierre-Jeudy will state, forms a kind of obstacle for the cities. Why preserve that which caused the destruction?

    The exhibition Topofilia, James Kudo’s first solo show at Zipper Galeria, brings several different examples of the power of an artist sensitive to the distinct mechanisms of creation. His painting, which plays with planes, surface effects and prototype images, is allowed to be contaminated by references from the fashion world and tradition. Memory and make-up. Dense topics. Artificial joys. On a stone found years ago, an intriguing image, a natural white line. Kudo then develops the extension of the line as the outline for the drawing of a house. What his painting has of the exuberant, in this work is harmonized with strength and delicate, sculptural precision. Like in the poetry of Waltércio Caldas, the image deals with materials of contrasting, contradictory appearance, but in which the constructive will overflows with elements in spatiality. James, therefore, continues the drawing, integrating and bringing to himself the stone that “penetrates the soul”, as João Cabral had alerted us.

    Books are “transcendent objects”, Caetano Veloso once said, “but we can love them with tactile love.” One of the most interesting paths of the Topofilia exhibition is the set of appropriated books, old and encircled by wooden, gouache-painted mushrooms. The pieces seem to display harmonious living, again, between what could be the evidence of a destruction, an undoing. James applies the mushrooms and resumes what in the book is nature. There the processing of trees, in paper production, did not impede the life of the forms, the sap of the timbers was combined with the moisture in the air. And thus, like flowers, sprout the fungi, an apocalyptic, spectacular image.

    James Kudo’s art lives in harmony with the vanitas, the affirmation that life is finite. Meanwhile, nature, landscape and industrial processing are mirrored in each other. And we are left with believing in the illusion. Contradiction and nonsense are the the raw materials for artistic creation.

    Critical essay