Marcia Thompson


A Transbordar

There is no such thing as pessimistic art - Art affirms.

Nietzsche (The Will to Power)

The recent works that Marcia Thompson is exhibiting at Galeria Mercedes Viegas, although made in a cloistered situation in her London home during the pandemic, bring us a breath of fresh air, a joy. There is a surplus of life in the strong and elemental colours that materialise and overflow through the cracks, crevices, wefts, fingers, body and world. They insist on taking us to meet Eros and not Thanatos.

Art affirms itself through the work as a vital necessity, as a transforming and overflowing potency of possibilities.

I could not help but think of these works in their relation to the thought of Hélio Oiticica, who promoted the idea of "giving a body to colour" and who, inspired by Nietzsche's philosophy (Amor Fati and Eternal Return) brilliantly concludes in his famous banner what is the essence of this philosophy of life -- "From adversity we live".

I can see that the process we have seen developing in Thompson's work has a resonance with Hélio's, both from an aesthetic and an ethical point of view. I am well acquainted with the work of both and I am not speaking out of fashion. Especially in the theoretical trajectory of that artist who appeared with the 'Bólides', the part that deals with the expansion of colour in space and in his concept of 'Transobjects'. In both the deconstruction of pictorial and traditionally artistic elements, including the canvas, the frame, the use of monochrome, the warm colours, the overflowing painting in the space itself. In them the experimental process becomes part of the genesis of the work, undertaking a submission of the conceptual to the living phenomenon, in the unveiling of the ontology of the creative gesture.

Having begun her studies in art at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage Rio de Janeiro EAV at the end of the 1980s, Marcia is part of a group of artists who emerged in the 1990s, and who continue to investigate the principles and predicates of art by their own means, methods and propositions, as if starting from scratch. In assuming this path of research and experimentation, the artist's choice falls upon two theoretical axes that guide her work. One that investigates the concept of painting, an aspect explored in her practice to its limits. The other focuses on existential, auto-biographical, social, feminist aspects, which in their last instance are political. The political aspects are most clearly evident in her videos, drawings and texts.

Her teachers were, among others, Daniel Senise, Bia Milhazes and Luiz Pizarro, exponents of painting. And those who I believe also contributed in another way to her theoretical training, Milton Machado, Marcio Doctors and Charles Watson. There was a rich social and artistic atmosphere at EAV that facilitated intellectual exchanges. No less important were her colleagues and partners. Marcia cites for example Adriano Pedrosa and Courtney Smith:

They were from that group and showed me many books on conceptual and political art. I learned to make my own oil paint with Paulo Pigmento. I think I absorbed Neo-Concretism and Minimalism in an almost unconscious way. Then I went to New York and saw a lot of Cy Twomblys and went to Yale to see Eva Hesse. I think Manzoni and Mondrian are also important. I hung out with Tunga a quite a lot before I moved to London. (Interview to me, 2017)

What is in fact relevant is how the agency of these confluences takes place in the singularity of the work, the challenging way in which it approaches its objects and how it fuses disparate elements into a language of its own. While sustaining a keen critical sense towards the art system and the normativeness of the métier, Marcia resolutely strives to master the formal and historical elements of art but to question them and move beyond them, and not without a hint of that insubordinate Tunguian humour.

It should be noted that the practice of work is crossed by a permanent state of invention and reinvention, by a heroic obstinacy, a stubbornness, as if guided by a list of tasks-quite-impossible for the realisation of the work. To give body to colour, which is a spectrum of light, liquid matter or pigment. Containing the viscous paint by enveloping it with porous surfaces, perforated fabrics, elastic wefts and embroidered cloths. Place the canvas linen no longer stretched on the chassis but crumpled inside the paint balls. Alter the natural state of the encaustic paint with the addition of wax until it becomes a flexible and mouldable mass. Expanding the limits of the language of Art, making painting sculpture and vice versa. To extract knowledge from the experience of one's own work and not from learning art theories. Breaking with the norms and conventions of painting as an existential attitude.

Acting in a world increasingly globalised, capitalised and unfair, where the artist often faces a lack or precariousness of means and resources, Marcia seems to me to face these dehumanising situations experienced in art and in life through ethical choices; assuming a libertarian proposition in art. As she wrote to me:

I can associate my geographical displacement from Brazil to England with the movement of my works jumping from the wall into the air to find another space. Painting and sculpture have migrated to the real world, often leaving behind frames and pedestals. However, they have to find their own territory. I feel a vulnerability as I expose the masses of paint in the unknown space. It could be my own vulnerability as a woman, mother, immigrant and artist trying to fight against political and social difficulties and invisibilities. Feeling unprepared, unprotected and in the midst of doubt, is already a good start to start a revolution. (Text from the Artist, 24/01/2022)

There is no escape or abandonment of brutal reality, but the affirmation of the possibility of a heroic confrontation of the vicissitudes of life through art, which is reflected in these works. There is in them a forcefulness, an overflow of art, an erotic drive, a joy of life, a Nietzschean affirmation.

Paula Terra-Neale

Art Historian and Independent Curator