Pietrina Checcacci, 1941, Evaterra, 1971
Pietrina Checcacci: táticas do corpo
Jun 4 – Jul 14, 2024
São Paulo, Brazil

“Of the body. But what is the body?” one reads in the first lines of Ferreira Gullar’s Poema Sujo [Dirty Poem], written in 1975 during the poet’s period of exile. In the work, the physical body is placed into question, re-elaborated, and re-evaluated at a moment of fracture of the social body. How does this body, “this bone that I can’t see,” look and is looked upon in moments of tension and censorship? And how is it able to be so mysterious as a form, filled with folds and creases? The beginning of Pietrina Checcacci’s career witnessed the outbreak of the military dictatorship in Brazil, which did not go unnoticed in her work. If at first her interest in the human figure was manifested in the representation of groups of people, as mentioned in the epigraph, this approach was precisely concerned with the body in a social sphere. Over time, the artist moved in the direction of the poet’s question, delving into the minutiae of the human body – more specifically, the female body.

[ . . . ]

However, the erotic dimension of this skin that is displayed has often been denied by the artist. A question of censorship, perhaps? In any case, it was an aspect present in the paintings of many Brazilian artists active at the time, in line with demands for the recognition of women as desiring subjects brought about by the second wave of feminism that emerged in the United States in the 1960s. Women were then seen representing women’s bodies in a multiplicity of forms hitherto unprecedented in Brazilian art – Wanda Pimentel, Teresinha Soares, and Regina Vater are prime examples of this turning point. However, accepting this exercise in freedom was not so simple, as can also be inferred from the fact that Pietrina omitted her first name from the signatures of most of her works produced until a certain point in the 1970s, leaving only, Checcacci.

Critics also perceive a diversity of references and dialogues in her work, as well as a connection with hyperrealism, which was on the rise at the same time. In interviews, she also denies a voluntary connection to this movement: “I’m not a hyperrealist either. I don’t start from photography, but from sketching. I have nothing against hyperrealism, but I make a point of not being one.” Because of the distortions caused by ultra-close details of the body, as well as compositions that unite decontextualized elements (the rope, the butterfly), she may be associated with certain approaches to surrealism, regarding which she comments: “I make a point of remaining in the real. I know I’m on a tightrope, very close to the surreal. But I’m attentive, observing the human being.” So, again, what is this human body of Pietrina’s? It is not the body of the abject, the obscene, and the formless, to evoke the debate brought by the North American magazine October in the 1990s. It is not the same skin exposed to violence portrayed by Nan Goldin, nor Cindy Sherman’s pastiche body, nor the scatological matter of Andres Serrano. If the formless consists of the ruin of good form, if it seeks to “debase and put in disorder any taxonomy,” the human body for Pietrina, even when placed in erotic tension, even when stripped of its noble parts (you see much more foot than head), it is a body that is elevated by art, or that her art wants to elevate.

Pietrina Checcacci: taticas do corpo
Jun 4 – Jul 14, 2024
Sao Paulo, Brazil

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