Alex Vallauri: São Paulo and New York City as Support

With vivacity, humor and joy, Alex Vallauri added innovative forms, colors and images – that have revolutionized the way of seeing and making art in Brazil – to conventional aesthetic values in drawing, printing and painting.

The artist realized that an artwork would only be understood if its author was concerned with people’s yearnings and aspirations as well. This is why he replaced traditional graphic techniques, executed within the four walls of his studio, with great matrixes he would stealthily imprint on walls around the city; thus, he created signs that would be immediately identified and loved by the anonymous crowd that roamed those places every day. It was a bold attitude by a daring artist who, unattached to false avant-gardes, aimed at communication and aesthetic fruition: just art, through which humor, irony, critique and life’s pleasures were expertly conveyed to the population.

After an initial expressionist phase, Alex Vallauri found in pop art his main inspiration. In the late 1970s, the kitsch, a standardized symbol in the industry of dreams typical of large cities, disseminated in São Paulo, New York City, Chicago and other main metropolis, was perceived and playfully attached to his work. A kind of play in which fantasy mixes with the confused reality of daily life: a personal reinvention of pop art by Alex Vallauri in the tropics.

In 1978, the artist began his most known facet of graffiti artist. His Bota preta [Black Boot] kicked off his trajectory in São Paulo then. Timidly at first and then, in a wider flight, coming to the US and creating postcards in New York City.

In the same manner as pop art artists Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and George Segal, among others, who believed that objects and materials acted as co-authors of their works, Vallauri confirmed this new way of making art when he conceived his installation A festa na casa da Rainha do Frango Assado [Party at the Queen of Roasted Chicken’s] for the 18th Bienal Internacional de São Paulo. The objects of this work intrinsically express the essential, instilling some unattainable truth into art by other means, testing sacred limits of painting – it is more like a particular, convincing, bold translation of Latin American pop art by this artist.

It was visual cosmogony that widened debates about artistic creation itself and whose aim was to reach unique dialogue through different techniques, objects and/or materials.

In the same way that pop artists have often aimed at transforming their works in multiple signed and numbered pieces in order to democratize art and foster a larger number of people who can enjoy/collect their work, Alex Vallauri was also partly successful in disseminating his creations in Brazil. They were first installed on walls in São Paulo and later in New York City, where they became postcards. Because they were unique, they were imprinted as living symbols of New York City. His unusual bright graffiti pieces appeared in uncommon locations in that city – Soho, Greenwich Village and even Broadway – and were later photographed by Vallauri himself and transformed into a limited edition colored photocopy series, signed and dated by the author and now at display in this exhibition.

Working with drawing, etching, painting and design, Alex Vallauri was well respected in all of his artistic activities. Only commercial success was denied to him, but this never prevented him from creating art – just art, in which humor, irony, critique and life’s pleasures were conveyed to the public without any retouching or regrets. He was a transforming artist perfectly connected to his time and space. His career was developed in a short chronological period: between 1967 and 1987.

He intuitively felt that his time was short. He hasted to understand, capture and live the short time life had assigned to him; he relentlessly researched and produced, he never settled. He wanted more, he needed more. Time was excessively short for such abundant and good production.

João Spinelli