Charles Fajardo

Carlos Fajardo, Untitled, 1985, Polyurethane foam and sound equipment,


Comments about theplastic artist and teacher

Carlos Fajardo is 80 years old. I couldn't believe it when I did the math. Braguinha – a subtle, wise, humorous and long-lived composer of marchinhas who lived 99 years – once said that “life only likes those who like life”. Potato!

I met him in 1985 at the home of sculptor and mutual friend José Resende. Fajardo was then 45 years old. His hair thinned a bit, his body maybe gained a few grams. Moreover, always the bearing of a bullfighter with traits of a French swordsman from the days of the monarchy. And an incorrigible optimism, even in times of financial tightness or health problems. His semi-geometric, gently angular gestures – when he puts his hand on the back of a friend, when he places the toe of his shoe on the ground and when he walks – seem to have been drawn by Saul Steinberg, rather than drawn by himself.

Our artist is named in different ways, depending on the degree of intimacy or the time they met: Fafá, Carlos, Fajardo, Carlos Fajardo, Don Carlos or even Carlos Alberto, exclusive to his mother, when angry with his son. It matches everyone. From the most intimate to the most impersonal.

don't like the idea of day of art, although he is a tireless worker. He taught for thirteen years at the Department of Visual Arts at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Since 1965 he has been giving private lessons. In 1985, he was invited by professor and friend José Arthur Giannotti to edit the magazine New Studies of the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning (Cebrap).

In the second issue I produced (the 19th, if I'm not mistaken), I invited him to design the publication's covers. We worked together until 1998, when I decided to dedicate myself only to the free art history course that I still dedicate myself to today.

And it was Fajardo who was largely responsible for the idea and for the meeting of the first group of students I taught, still in my apartment at the time on Rua Pelotas, in 1989 One day, when I took him to the exit of Cebrap, I complained about not being able to live what was then my main interest, the history of art. He put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Let's work this out." Isn't it that a few weeks later I was already teaching about ten people?

Marcel Duchamp and minimalism

Fajardo belongs to a generation of artists who, like José Resende and Cássio Michalany, learned a lot from the North American minimalists. For this important aspect of contemporary art, it was above all important to find a very simple formalization of works of art. “One thing after another”, in the words of its main representative, Donald Judd.

A way of arranging the work’s components – fluorescent lamps (in Dan Flavin’s case, wooden beams, in Carl Andre’s) – that would correspond more to mass democracy, mass production and the near extinction of handicrafts in today’s world .

However, the artist's first love was Marcel Duchamp. Launching complex and humorous challenges to the observer, putting his sovereignty in check, is something that mobilizes him. Many of his pieces are self-made. A sphere of glycerin that gradually loses water and transforms. The long tail of clay that breaks as it dries. The sheets of laminated glass overlapping at random, producing the most different shades and so on.

The relationship between an artist and his work is extremely complex. Matisse has possibly done the happiest work of all moderns. However, he was a restless and anguished man, who often needed his first wife, Amélie, to read aloud until dawn so that he could sleep.

In the case of Fajardo, I believe that his work influenced him more than vice versa. He is a sympathetic person, but averse to emotional outbursts. You can count on him for almost anything, but I don't think he'd like to be trusted. Nor does it create situations that propitiate such intimacies. He doesn't either. His intimate life may have been shared with Renata Ribeiro da Luz — his first wife, whom I never met — with Raquel de Almeida Magalhães, his second wife, or with Vânia Chene, his current partner.

In a country that values ​​the visual arts, quite possibly some foundation would have already guaranteed him a less hard life and a more peaceful future for the enormous contribution he made to the arts with his work and teaching. Fortunately, our young elder is still healthy and, like Braguinha, very happy to live.

*Rodrigo Naves is an art critic. Author, among other books, of Two Shadow Artists: Essays on El Greco and Oswaldo Goeldi (Literature Company).

Originally published in the magazine Pink, flight. 4, no 2.


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