The Reinvention of Painting
This brought Palatnik into contact with artworks made by Dr. Nise’s schizophrenic patients, and he could not understand how those people, especially Raphael Domingues and Emygdio de Barros, could produce such artistically dense images even though they had not been trained in the visual arts and lacked an understanding of the term ‘art’: “I thought that I was a trained artist. I decided to start all over from scratch. The discipline from the school, the studio, was no longer of any use.”
It is phenomenal to perceive that the lines, gestures and expressiveness of those two artists bore a fertile and pertinent connection with the canonic painters of modern art, especially Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. Their work opened another direction for the maturation and understanding of different practices that constituted Brazilian modern art. For Palatnik, it was the moment to temporarily put aside his brushes and delve into the principles and techniques of kinetic art.
If in his Aparelhos cinecromáticos and Objetos cinéticos the movement and participation take place autonomously in relation to the spectator, the same is not true of his paintings of a constructive bent, since the spectator’s mobility in relation to them causes a dynamic re-dimensioning of the idea of movement in direct opposition to the supposed rigidity of a painting.
His work gave rise to forms in space by way of movement and enlarged the borders, now fluid, between painting and sculpture. These movements possess a time distinct from that of day-to-day life, since they offer us the possibility for rest and delicateness; we are suspended in time and space by the enchantment that these seductive and hypnotic objects reveal to us.
Technology operates in Palatnik’s work in a very particular way. The artist engages in manual craftwork, as is evident in the use of materials such as glass, string, cardboard and metallic rods. In this series these inexpensive elements, readily available in the retail market, nevertheless carry out a procedure of high poetic value.
These are games that display the two interests of the artist at that moment: an increasingly diversified research into kinetic qualities, coupled with an exploration of multiplicity and the dissemination of this production within society. In the 1950s and ’60s he also developed a series of inventions linked to industry.
These include a machine for splitting the husks of babaçu coconuts, devices for feeding raw material into machines used in the production of fish meal, and a special kind of canvas at the request of friend and fellow artist Ivan Serpa, which allowed for better absorption of the paint, maintaining the colors in their original hue and preventing the painted surface from cracking.
The Progressões entered a further phase in the 1990s in the series W, in which the jacarandá wood was replaced by acrylic paint. In these works, Palatnik paints abstract canvases that serve as “models” for later paintings made with laser-cut yardsticks assembled side by side with colors and forms resembling those models.
During the assembly process, the artist slides the strips of the “sliced painting” up and down in relation to one another to “draw” the final work, constructing a progressive rhythm of the form, combining expansion with visual dynamics. This inventive character is also found in the series of paintings with string and acrylic paint made in the 1980s.
The painting acquired a light volume which helped to produce an optical effect that balanced the “precarious technology” of the string with a rigorous and sensitive research into kinetic art and the possibilities for the expansion of both form and color through a double movement: of the lines and of the viewer.