Athos Bulcão: atelier artworks 

Fundação Athos Bulcão

Athos Bulcão is first and foremost a painter. Painting was a field he settled on when beginning his art career in the 1940s. While working as a painter, he practiced drawing and produced series of engravings. A restless artist, he was soon experimenting with photomontage, polychrome reliefs, his series Masks, and the small objects of the series Creatures. Pieces that constitute his atelier artwork, the result of 70 years of research, studies and artistic production. All the items are part of the Athos Bulcão Foundation Collection.

His life
Born in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Athos Bulcão (1918 - 2008) had a childhood permeated by music, painting and theater. Still young, he studied medicine, but after some time at the university he noticed that his passion was really the arts. He lived among great representatives of Brazilian arts such as Carlos Scliar, Burle Marx and Cândido Portinari and in this circle of artists and intellectuals, he met Oscar Niemeyer, who, enchanted by his drawings, invited him to create tile panels for his buildings. This was only the beginning of his brilliant career with paintings, drawings, engravings, photomontages, costumes and theater sceneries, album and book covers, sculptures, and his monumental work of architecture integrated art. There were 70 years of research, studies and artwork production. Athos was tireless in his experimentations and utilized his deep knowledge in the use of colors and geometry with mastery.
“I have some works that are very musical; they seem to have rhythm. I like to paint leaving one color behind another, creating something a little mysterious. (…) Portinari taught a lot, he helped me to understand paintings, to analyze how they were made. European art is all very thought out. Someone may argue, 'And Van Gogh?' Van Gogh was very decisive to make his paintings the way he did, with only three, four or five colors. And this is something technical, which helps the painter. Before making a painting, I choose the colors I will use, rarely adding one more. The thing is all painted beforehand.” (interview given by the artist to the newspaper Jornal de Brasília, published July 2, 1998.)
His drawing technique, traces and themes, spaces and fullness, all that constitutes the basic vocabulary of his graphic language is used here to give life to a reinvented space, a surprising vision of a fantastic and perturbing interior world. It is as if everything had emerged from a (conscious) environment of forms from an internal sea whose unfathomable topology contained unconscious contents and meanings, innumerable and latent life systems waiting to incarnate. If it were possible to give a general name to these drawings, I would like to call them ‘apparitions’. (Ítalo Campofiorito, Presentation of the individual exposition: Drawings Encontro Art Gallery, Brasilia, 1968)
“I did a large series of photomontage from 1952 until 1955, because afterward I started to do photomontage applied to architecture. I made large photomontages. That was a period in which I was in an identity crisis. I had returned from Europe, where I had a scholarship, and realized that I couldn’t live from painting. I was doing interior decorating and didn’t like it much. Then I felt like doing something that was neither photography, nor theater, nor cinema. I began to cut out figures and place them side by side. It is a composition exercise. That is something that is perhaps linked to cinema in my mind, to movement. I imagined short films around that.” (interview given by the artist to the newspaper Jornal de Brasília, published July 2, 1998.)
When getting away (always with many possibilities of reappearance) of his schematic figures, he experiences a certain floating geometry in large color spaces, in his masks, from 1970 onwards, transferred the polychrome fixtures for the screen, and that will follow for the rest of his life. He starts the definition of quadrangular camps released in a fund that is always dark, populated by organic shapes, often evocative in a cameo. At first, arranged at right angles, they also float, creating overlays and transparencies. (Marilia Panitz, The imaginary according to Athos Bulcão, 100 Years of Athos Bulcão, 2018)
This precious material left by the artist, as well as plants that draw the possible deployment of the panels (the tile, but also the sculptures, the acoustics and partitions), allows the spectator, the understanding of the principles of his creation (even for those who live daily with his work). Athos stated that “my attitude before the things helps on it. The first care is not seem that the building was made to stay with those decorations.  We need to feel that it is necessary, regarding the completion of the project; (...) the rest is a little common sense”. His work integrated with buildings developed from two major partnerships: with Oscar Niemeyer and with João Filgueiras Lima (Lelé). There is, in these pairs that were formed, the clarity of aesthetic function as essential to the functionality of urban facilities, and that makes his works, creations. (Marilia Panitz, The imaginary according to Athos Bulcão, 100 Years of Athos Bulcão, 2018)
“The idea emerged at the last moment of the film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the fetus. And they are fetuses; they are locked inside the uterus; I imagine that it is a question about biological origin. (…) The intention is to make an object, play with the anthropology, with the physical origin. I was in Paris in 1971 at the Musée de l’Homme (…) I thought about doing an exhibition with masks that seemed like they were made of strange materials. The exhibition was called É Tudo Falso (It Is All False), playing with the question of the work of art. The work of art is an illusion. First, this is because it does not serve for absolutely anything, which is the fascinating part. Then, how can one say when a work of art is true or when it is false?” (interview given by the artist to the newspaper Jornal de Brasília, published July 2, 1998.)
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