Latinamerican Art

Waltercio Caldas (born 1946, lives and works in Rio de Janeiro)

Waltercio Caldas is decidedly an aesthete. Incidentally, he is also one of the best-selling artists of Brazil, which goes to show that quality in art and economic success are not necessarily a contradiction in terms…

When I met Waltercio Caldas for the first time in the beginning of this century in his beautiful residence in Rio de Janeiro, I was deeply impressed by the sophisticated elegance and profound eloquence of this artist. He talked about his art, as well as about art in general, so very admirably that it was a true pleasure and privilege to listen to him. In this respect, he also formed a stark contrast to his artist colleagues of the same age and on a par with him, Antonio Dias and Cildo Meireles. No matter how hard one tried, one would hardly ever hear them utter a single word about their own production.

O livro Velázquez, 1996, Editora Anônima, São Paulo, Open: aprox. 4,5 x 30,5 x 55 cm, Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Photography: Peter Schälchli, Zürich

I do not recall exactly how and why—before even knowing about Waltercio Caldas’s passion for collecting books—his small objects caught my attention. I was immediately taken in by how much thought and love had gone into elaborating them right down to the last detail, as if he put all his regard and passion, unconditionally, into these little works. His mid-format works, by contrast, held relatively limited attraction for me. His very large formats, in turn, absolutely fascinated me. The way he circumscribes and describes large stretches of landscape with his artistic interventions, using minimally invasive marks for reframing entire landscapes to conform to his meaning—simply outstanding!

As it was not possible to purchase the landscapes for the Daros Latinamerica Collection, we resorted to buying his book objects; more precisely, we bought each and every one of them, and in 2015 we exhibited them at our Casa Daros in Rio de Janeiro. Inherent to these book objects is a tremendous creative drive that on the one hand comes across as minimalist. On the other hand, it grants even the most ephemeral and delicate poetry the space it deserves. As with all true, deep, and genuinely poetic poetry, with Waltercio Caldas, too, one has to be able to read between the lines, namely there where authentic art develops its full and particular aroma, where it eludes prevailing interpretation schemes and where it opens passages into vagueness and uncertainty for us to journey completely on our own resources. To me, Waltercio Caldas, on a level that is not rationally comprehensible, achieves an artistic and poetic timbre comparable to that of the eminent Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers in his time. Waltercio’s art is frequently like an intangible breeze, minimalist and cool-tempered, profound and enigmatically enciphered, like a Bossa nova turned object; it is absolute coolness in itself, filled with frozen passion…

Vôo noturno, 1967, Open: 15 x 32 x 61 cm, Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zürich, Photography: Peter Schälchli, Zürich

Space—even the all but impalpable space of a vast, extending landscape—is something that Waltercio Caldas manages playfully, something that he stakes out, measures, and makes visible by means of minimal architectural and sculptural interventions, thereby investing it with an unprecedented poetic rhythm. He not only outlines actually existing space, but with his artistic interventions he moreover maps out intellectual and mental spaces where we find ourselves starting to move in. As my colleague Katrin Steffen put it so aptly a few years ago, «Waltercio Caldas reflects on the possibilities and limitations of representation and observation.» This talent indirectly predestines him as well to be an exhibition maker, a job he successfully filled, at the invitation of the curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, on the occasion of last year’s São Paulo Biennale.


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