In Brazil, things move differently. From the unbridled joy of Ronaldinho’s samba football to the rhythm of capoeira on the beaches, all under the sun’s waves and the ebbing bossa nova. In Rafa Carlesso’s form-led abstract art, we get an insight into the Brazilian way of doing things, in life, love and art.
An architect by trade, working out of Curitiba, Carlesso’s art is a lesson in balance. To look at it, there’s elements of abstract expressionism, of calligraphy and, of course, of architecture. Coming from a rich heritage of world-renowned architects, Brazil is one of the discipline's global hubs. Architecture itself is the idealised embodiment of emotion, utility, balance and expression, but isolated, architecture means nothing.
A building must be understood by the place it inhabits, by the way people interact with it and how it interacts with people. This reciprocity is one of the core underlying tenets of any successful piece of architecture. This fundamental lesson is also employed in Carlesso’s artworks, themselves exemplars of form, function and situation.
Utilising his designs, Carlesso hopes to explore contemporary culture and how it functions in society. By relying on fluid shapes and lines, the Italian-Brazilian has free reign in expressing concepts through form and colour.
Beginning his artistic life as a kid who would look at a map and draw how he imagined life at any given place, his art has, in many ways, come full circle. To this day, he still paints evocations of life, only in a far more abstracted manner, encapsulating the mixtures of culture and chaos all around him, having grown up holding the Italian and German values of his parents throughout his life in Brazil.
His homeland’s inherent jubilance, the aforementioned rhythm and colour, are fully embraced in his bold works, where the abstract forms are as important as the spaces around them. When creating the works, Carlesso is fully committed to integrating each piece into its environment, visualising how his creation can and will look against various backdrops - depending on where his pieces end up.
That’s why he envisions his work to be manifestations of the cultural popular expressions from Brazil, like the random conversations and colloquialisms that make it unique, manifesting in his use of various symbols. Just like the buildings of the country, which are representative of certain ideals and beliefs, the paintings are quasi-philosophical musings, contending with the commonplace, the folkloric and the indigenous.
As in architecture, aesthetics are deeply valued in art and, drawing on the Brazilian native culture, Carlesso infuses his works with the primitive art that has been associated with indiginous groups, as well as a nod towards the various progressions of art that have developed throughout time.
To sum up his philosophy, nobody can say it quite as well as the artist himself, “My work is the self-expression of my life. It’s the fusion of the rational and perfectionist European characteristics, with the spontaneity and organicity of the Brazilian lifestyle. This paradox leads me to work very rigorously in the creation and composition of the works, with a technical analysis of all the elements that will compose the work. I’m assisted in this by the influence of the theories and forms of creation, which come from my academic background in architecture.”
We can view his art as the sum of everything. His life, education and experience. It's Carlesso's self expression, his autobiography, the story of his whole life.
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