Mauro Piva

Galeria Leme, São Paulo, Brazil

Mauro Piva has been making figurative paintings since the turn of the 21st century. In his most recent work,  his engagement with the medium of painting has expanded from two to three-dimensions, in predominantly watercolour, acrylic and gouache-on-paper works carefully excavated with  a scalpel and peeled apart, so they carry a sculptural quality. His solo show at Galeria Leme also includes two painted aluminium sculptures in the shape of his own mixing palettes, and a vitrine-held painting that references a display of Henri Matisse’s  cut-out colour tests at the Museum  of Modern Art in New York.

mauro_piva_homenagem_teste_de_cores_j._albers_i_tribute_colour_test_j._alberts_i_2016_acrylic_watercolour_graphite_and_colour_pencil_on_paper_45_x_42_cm._all_images_courtesy_the_artist_and_galeria_leme_sao_paulo

Mauro Piva, Homenagem (teste de cores J. Albers) I (Tribute (colour test J. Alberts) I), 2016, acrylic, watercolour, graphite and colour pencil on paper, 45 x 42 cm. All images courtesy: the artist and Galeria Leme, São Paulo

Mauro Piva, Homenagem (teste de cores J. Albers) I (Tribute (colour test J. Alberts) I), 2016, acrylic, watercolour, graphite and colour pencil on paper, 45 x 42 cm. All images courtesy: the artist and Galeria Leme, São Paulo

At first glance, many of the works on view appear to be leftover scraps  of paper and used paint trays – the reclaimed and reframed waste materials of artistic process. However, they are all meticulous representations of the tools of the trade – bits of masking tape, colour-test swabs and paint splatters – that Piva paints on single sheets of paper. These self-referential representations are more ideal than real: their colours and forms don’t always exactly match their original referents, though Piva’s sources are made clear by the works’ titles: Homenagem (teste de cores J. Albers) I (Tribute [Colour Test J. Albers] I, all works 2016), for instance, is a near-faithful reproduction of a Josef Albers colour test. Other works reference the papers  on which Caspar David Friedrich, Ellsworth Kelly, William Kentridge, Elizabeth Peyton, William Turner and Piva himself tested their hues. 

mauro_piva_homenagem_teste_de_cores_c._d._friederich_ii_tribute_colour_test_d._c._friederich_ii_2016_watercolour_graphite_and_colour_pencil_on_paper_38_x_41_cm

Mauro Piva, Homenagem (teste de cores C. D. Friederich) II (Tribute (colour test D. C. Friederich) II), 2016, watercolour, graphite and colour pencil on paper, 38 x 41 cm

Mauro Piva, Homenagem (teste de cores C. D. Friederich) II (Tribute (colour test D. C. Friederich) II), 2016, watercolour, graphite and colour pencil on paper, 38 x 41 cm

By representing fragments of other artists’ processes, Piva questions how the identity of a painter is constructed. Is Piva’s hand still present in a meticulous reproduction of another artist’s detritus? Whose markings are these, and can we still even consider them colour tests?

Mauro Piva, Autorretrato como godets (Self portrait as palette mixing trays), 2016, enamel on aluminium, each 17 x 17 x 2 cm

Mauro Piva, Autorretrato como godets (Self portrait as palette mixing trays), 2016, enamel on aluminium, each 17 x 17 x 2 cm

Mauro Piva, Autorretrato como godets (Self portrait as palette mixing trays), 2016, enamel on aluminium, each 17 x 17 x 2 cm

The exhibition at Leme also includes a number of paintings of Piva’s own  creative debris, titled as ‘Self-portraits’, such as Autorretrato como godets (Self-Portrait as Mixing Palette). As in his reproductions of other artists’ materials, Piva has attempted to remove subjective expression from his own brushstrokes by painting realistic representations of them; by terming the resulting works ‘self-portraits’, he  effectively declares his own identity commensurate with the instruments and materials he uses to complete these paintings. Is a painter only as much as his palette? 

mauro_piva_2016_exhibition_view_galeria_leme_sao_paulo._photograph_filipe_berndt

'Mauro Piva', 2016, exhibition view, Galeria Leme, São Paulo. Photograph: Filipe Berndt

'Mauro Piva', 2016, exhibition view, Galeria Leme, São Paulo. Photograph: Filipe Berndt

The works at Leme collapse terms commonly used to describe and distinguish paintings as well as their makers: they are simultaneously figurative  (they represent real objects in the world), abstract (the reproduced marks are non-representational) and expressionistic (these marks are copied from preparatory sketches). By bringing the ephemeral materials of the creative process to the foreground and giving them a greater role and permanence, Piva highlights the self-referential nature of modern painting and the importance of process to his craft. For him, art is process and process is art. 

Issue 181

First published in Issue 181

September 2016

Most Read

The argument that ancestral connection offers a natural grasp of the complex histories and aesthetics of African art is...
Ahead of the 52nd edition of Art Cologne, your guide to the best shows to see in the city
‘I'm interested in the voice as author, as witness, as conduit, as ventriloquist’ – the artist speaks...
In further news: a report shows significant class divide in the arts; and Helen Cammock wins Max Mara art prize
A genre more associated with painting, an interest in the environment grounds a number of recent artists’ films 
A new report suggests that women, people from working-class backgrounds and BAME workers all face significant...
The divisive director out after less than six months by mutual consent
In further news: Gillian Ayres (1930-2018); Met appoints Max Hollein as director; Cannes announces official selection
With miart in town, the best art to see across the city – from ghostly apparitions to the many performances across the...
From Grave of the Fireflies to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the visionary director grounded fantasy with...
In further news: art dealer and Warhol friend killed in Trump Tower fire; UK arts organizations’s gender pay gap...
Emin threatened ‘to punch her lights out’, she claimed in a recent interview
As the Man Booker Prize debates whether to nix US writers, the ‘homogenized future’ some novelists fear for British...
‘Very often, the answer to why not would be: because you’re a girl’ – for this series, writer Fran Lebowitz speaks...
The artist is also planning a glass fountain of herself spouting her own blood
‘The difficulties are those which remain invisible’: for a new series, writer and curator Andrianna Campbell speaks...
With ‘David Bowie Is’ at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Glenn Adamson on the evolution of the music video – a genre Bowie...
Under a metahistorical guise, the filmmaking duo enact hidden tyrannies of the contemporary age
The area’s development boom isn’t just in luxury property – the art scene is determined to keep its place too
In further news: Laura Owens’s 356 Mission space closes; John Baldessari guest-stars in The Simpsons
With his fourth plinth commission unveiled in London, the artist talks archaeological magic tricks and ...
When dealing with abuse in the art industry, is it possible to separate the noun ‘work’ from the verb?

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

January - February 2018

frieze magazine

March 2018

frieze magazine

April 2018