Untitled (Porta I), 2000


Latex and black ink on MDF-board
214 x 91 x 4.5 cm

In the work of Iran do Espirito Santo, nothing is what you actually see. His highly conceptual and mostly ironic pieces of art seem like visual puzzles without aiming for solutions. Espirito Santo's art is minimal and deals with issues of structure, design, place, surface and material. Through sculptural procedures the ordinary object gets an art object. Within this process of transformation the use of industrial materials and reductionist strategies function as counterweight. Things we are quite familiar with seem functionless or even appear in a ghosty way. Ambiguity plays a central role in this work as it does in almost all of the artist's works.

Unitlted (Porta I) is one of Espirito Santo's large-scale wall works of wood grain which are considerable undertakings, requiring outstanding skill and substantial physical labour. After applying a skin of black shoe polish or tempera directly to the wall, the artist then meticulously, even manically, covers the entire surface with a series of marks that are both unique and the same, through an interplay of accident and control. Engaging in a futile attempt to replicate chance, Espirito Santo makes, literally from scratch, wood surfaces that exude a discreet yet stubborn condition. His motifs mutate and shift from architectural elements to a range of other mediums, a continuous interchange of visual and material associations, from a plank nonchalantly leaning against the wall to austere monochromatic paintings. Taken together, these distinct manifestations suggest an allegory of art practice. – Lilian Tone

*1963 in Mococa, Brazil | Living and working in São Paulo, Brazil