Teresa Poester


Gestural vigour, mathematical accuracy

The drypoint is never truly meek, never very sweet or delicate. The drypoint nicks the surface of the metal, ploughing its way by force, raising burrs, leaving crippled marks along its way. The burrs, indeed, are required when we wish to prepare the plate for printing; that is where the ink holds on before meeting the paper. In the picture already printed, the line that comes from the drypoint does not achieve the accuracy – the skill, the expertise – of the etching. The line of the drypont looks rather, and always, erratic and misconformed. However, It conserves, an energy that is linked to its own origin, the memory of the engraver´s attack against the copper mirror: there is vigour on the drypoint, maybe more than in any other possibility of the so called metal engraving.

Imagine now that this printed image, resulting from the drypoint, is photographed, copied digitally and overenhanced. The line, considered uncertain but vigourous, will gain intensity; it will luckily show itself rather uncertain and not so vigourous. Suppose now that, on top this overenhanced image, new lines come in, drawn straight onto the paper. Keep in mind that these new lines, if not keeping the erratic burr of the chisel, its sobbing evolving, offer the same drive of the original lines: they are neither sweet nor shy. They are engraved with willpower, fearlessness, with no piety. Still, in an imaginative exercise, consider the chances of repeating this very creative path: the engraving is reprinted, drawn with blue lines over the black, lillac, green. Everything is arranged with great freedom. It is a free and open procedure. Apparently without science, with no accuracy and witth no mathematics. Yet, the mathematics is there.
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What we sought to line out in the preceding paragraphs is part of the method adopted by visual artist Teresa Poester (Bage, 1954) in the creation of her latest work series. Teresa comes from a trajectory of over 35 years of activity in the field of art, in which not only her interest for landscapes is highlighted, with their possibilities of constructing and disconstructing, but also her taste for drawing. In another occasion, I have pondered that maybe it was not the artist who pursues the theme of landscapes, but the other way round. Maybe it is the eliciting of the landscape that does not leave Teresa, supposing, maybe, that all the choices of the creators are not conscious or programmed. There would be recurrent issues, or that insist in remaining, almost despite their authors. They are not called upon but, when we least expect them, there they are once again. Even when everything seems to be going toward total abstraction, the suggestion of a landscape lingers.

Likewise, the drawing is part of the artist´s background. It has always been there, but, just as the landscapes have already been approached in an exhaustive and systematized way, also the drawings in the recent years have been investigated in a more verticalized fashion. Its exchanges with other cathegories of artistic visual production, such as photos and videos, sutain a recent study – practical and theoretical – with groups of students in the daily activities of the studio.

In this two-fold context, the one of the persisting landscape and the dealing with the drawings, Teresa eventually was faced with pictures. Upon the experiences with metal matrixes, in 2013, at the Iberê Camargo Foundation in the Museu do Trabalho, in Porto Alegre, (and not only with one drypoint but also with water and ink etching) the artist was as lucky as to, once again, research the theme of the landscapes and the vicinity of the drawings.
Hence the format of the image, which was intimate, and has been enhanced. The short line became a wide gesture. The gray found color. The stumbling line of the drypoint gained volume. Enhanced, the square of the engraving became a module. Here, unexpectedly, mathematics made its way through.
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Young, even before her path across the field of art took place, Teresa was a Math teacher. Apparently, this vein in her background never appeared like it was intimate with the artistic creation – in the case of Teresa, pinpointed by the expressionist matrix, free, wide, a little inclined to schematics. Giving it a second thought, there was also a sort of ordinance in the series in which the artist juxtaposed windows and grids with landscapes. The case now, is that in her anagrams, this perception – that might already have been there, but in the shadow, irradiates. The tendency for mathematics is made less subtle. It joins the vigour, closely to violence, that accompanies de chisel.

In another occasion, commenting the work of another artist, in which the mathematical rigour was the selfsame vector (and vertigo) of creative invention, I quoted the same text from Fernando Pessoa, to whom I turn once again. It is about a brief essay, in which the Portuguese poet discusses how, in the creator´s act, different forces combine, in na effort of intelligence and its elaborations. There would be, in the assumption of Pessoa (already in this formulation making his mathematical pendor evident), three kinds of culture that feed the inventive exercise: the culture that results in erudition, and that comes from the experience in which it is formed hence the multiplicity of intellectual interests. The first one would be connected to the “patient and thorough, for the systematized assimilation of the results of this study”. The second would have to do with the “natural quickness and depth of the profits” and everything the subject reads and hears. The third would refer to the “multiplicity of intellectual interests”, in an articulation in which “none will be profound, dominant, but variety will enlarge the spirit” (PESSOA, 1966).

The poet of heteronyms concludes that the creative disposition may be much more alive in those who keep alert – available – in the face of life, to “all arts” and sciences: in “A poet that knows which are the coordinates of Gauss is more likely to write a good love sonnet than a poet who is unaware of it”. Pessoa suggests that neither there would exist some kind of paradox. “A poet who has bothered to become interested in a methematical abstrusion”, He argues, “has in himself the instinct of intellectual curiosity”. This is the vein that, more than inspiring, would help to define the character of the artist and the artwork: “(...) those who have in themselves the instinct of intellectual curiosity have certainly picked up, in the course of their life experience, minor details of love and feelings superior than the ones who are unable to become interested in things apart from the regular life that affects them — the manjer of the work and the harness of submission” (PESSOA, 1966).

I believe that in the same artist the vertents listed by Pessoa may alternate and combine for he says that they derive from intellectual curiosity; in the case of Teresa, the investigative process is dear to mathematical sciences. In the latest series of drawings by the artist, there is a conjugation between systematized study, be it of the landscape or the drawing itself, the hardworking activity in the studio, marked here, by the vigour, by the momentum and by the clear view, and not least important, nor profound and dominant, the scientific, mathematical instinct. The drawings, made in modules, bundle up in a scheme that is very close, if we wish, to the one of combinatory analysis. In this anagram, or game, which is not made of words but rather images, it invites the continuum (however finite?) arrangements and rearrangements in which a line may continue or interrupt the previous one. By chance each minor detail will alter or assign new senses to the preceding one – and to the whole. The gestural vigour will be articulated, with a paradox that is only apparent, as suggested by the poet, to mathematical rigour.

Eduardo Veras
Arts critic and independent curator, Professor at the Institute of Arts of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul - UFRGS.