I have spent the last few years creating work based on the book ‘The Hour of the Star’ by Brazilian writer, Clarice Lispector. This is a haunting and poetic novel written from the point of view of a male narrator who is grappling with how to paint a picture, through his writing, of an intriguing antihero: Macabea, a girl, who lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.
I carried out the preparatory sketches for the work in oil, working from a live model.
In the final artworks, the ‘energetic’ paint strokes have been replaced with torn pieces of paper, laid down as a more restful interpretation, reflecting the qualities of the quiet unassuming character in the book. The figures are displayed on anonymous walls, that belong to the street, to everyone. Like fragments of posters with yesterday's news, they are clues to a story that cannot be easily told.
The paper used is a mixture of recycled paper and paper made by hand (out of recycled papers). By making use of something that might have otherwise been discarded, I am trying to emulate the aims of the book’s male narrator, who wished to reveal the beautiful aspects of the sparse material he chose to work with.
Over the years, I have been influenced by Joan Miro, Dinah Prentice, Coptic textiles, shadow puppetry, Paula Rego, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, William Turner and Henri Matisse.
This work will be on display at Mrs F's Fine Food Emporium in Keswick until 5 September 2018.
Notes on Clarice Lispector (by Adam Joseph Shellhorse, Centre for Latin American Studies, University of California )
‘Clarice Lispector’s final and highly acclaimed literary work A hora da estrela (1977)—composed while the author was battling cancer and which would cause her untimely death in December of 1977— is an avant-garde novel that powerfully examines the impasse of representing the subaltern from the sphere of experimental literature. By the subaltern, I refer with Clarice’s example in protagonist and migrant Macabéa, to social subjects that stand epistemologically and politically outside, on the margins, and in the cracks of state, institutional and literary representation. In exploring this social and political dilemma and the problem of writing proper, the novel forges a fragmentary narrative perspective that interpellates the reader to reflect on the fissures and limits of literary culture and its modes of knowledge. Accordingly, if the novel begins by recounting the confession and literary credo of alienated writer-narrator, Rodrigo S.M., who yearns to bridge the gulf between writers and subalterns through the very novel and story that the reader is reading—it also foregrounds the modes by which Rodrigo weaves together the fragmentary story of Macabéa, a subaltern migrant who has journeyed from an impoverished region in the Brazilian Northeast to Rio de Janeiro in hopes of acquiring a better livelihood and work. Far from paternalistic or a “speaking for” the subaltern through literature, it could be said that Rodrigo’s narrative becomes more a theoretical space for his own self-conscious reflections on the nature of writing, ethics, and politics which posit and challenge the reader to consider the subaltern Macabéa as a limit and impasse to his writing and thinking procedures.’
This is a project that has been in development since 2012 (at least). As any of my friends and colleagues will know, I am a huge fan of the Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector, whose work I first came across in Another Magazine.
Home is where the heart is follows on from last year's participatory project Dreaming of home, during which people had been invited to be interviewed about their dream home, in exchange for which, I gave them a painting of the 'interior portrait' they had shared. Home is where the heart is continues to develop the 'home' theme.
In April of 2017, I began to formulate my next step for the 'Dreaming of Home' project. I proposed to interview a further 5 people, and this time record the interview process. I wanted to use this footage in the final exhibition as a means of showing something of the human story behind the final drawing. The theme was still 'home', but this time, I switched emphasis from dreams and desires, to formative memories. I asked the interviewees to recall places of gathering, privacy, inspiration and shelter. The places didn't have to have four walls. The questions were simple, requesting descriptive replies.
Dreaming of Home Project (Feb-Jun 2016)
From February to June 2016, I worked with Joshua Sofaer on his project 'Workshops in People's Homes'. The other 11 artists taking part, hosted their workshops in their homes or studios, the idea being that this would enhance or add a new facet to a participatory experience. Workshops attendees would be entering the personal space of the artist, as well as undertaking the unique workshop that the artist had devised.