In the broad and varied context of the rich artistic production in Brazil in the post-war era, Anna Paola Protasio is situated in the difficult but fruitful construction of a third way — which perhaps consists of a true civilisatory project for the country — between a strong constructive legacy, linked to rationalising concepts of progress and ordering of the world, very much in vogue especially in the 1950s; and another, no less vigorous, related to the poetics of the precarious, the orgiastic, and the sensory, whose formal and theoretical origins date back to our early Modernism, in the 1920s, recovered by art movements of the 1960s. This means that if, on the one hand, in Protasio’s work, the practice of displacing everyday objects (alongside traditional and noble materials) into the art realm is not equivalent to maintaining their social or cultural meanings, for they are full of intense symbolism and personal connotations; on the other hand, these meanings, in the context of her works, are subject to a formal and grammatical rigour that prevents any excess of subjectivity or mere sensory experimentation.
However, such characteristic moves — or suspends, a word which, as we will see, seems to indicate something dear to the artist — the work of Anna Paola Protasio away from the immediate context of Brazilian art history’s parochial dilemmas, in order to place it within the broader context of western art’s intellectual research, or, rather, the history of the western individual since the Enlightenment, with their harrowing and concomitant need for (philosophic) transcendence and (scientific) control. Based on these strong elements of research and intellectuality — which mark, but do not deplete, Protasio’s work — her output may be understood as a visual and material language, which follows a law (her language’s law) to produce symbolism, metaphors, and allegories that incessantly point to their own limit, in which the individual (and the spectator) feels imprisoned, using the fetters of her own language to forge, or at least point toward, possible states or spaces for transcendence or suspension (of law; of time and space).
Anna Paola Protasio’s work can therefore be located between the crushing imprisonment of the constructive and the precise, and the horror of chaos and dissolution of consciousness — like a utopian point, always to be conquered —, like a possible project of individual, ultimately transcendent and present. Such effort is present, to a greater or lesser extent, in all works of this exhibition, from the installation “Transe,” in which an aluminium lighthouse casts its beams into infinity while we hear the deep and languorous hymn to Yemanja (goddess and queen of the oceans), to the poetic installation “Horizon,” in which a see-through acrylic boat sails without moving (suspended in time and space, or frozen) towards a horizon forever unreachable, drawn on the wall (transformed, therefore, into an infinite background) by a laser level; to sculptures and paintings (in metal, defining a kind of water — which is the element that serves as leitmotif for the reflections and questions raised by the works of this exhibition — which is hard, that is, what is naturally shapeless acquires shape and rigidity) which are, in their successful attempt to grasp with nobility and stoicism the subtle transition from a state of non-being to a state of being — to a third shore, where human existence finds and invents itself —, pure poetry.
Renato Rezende, 2013