"(...) [it] ate from the dictionary the words that could be joined in verses," it ate plants and fruits, flowers and the remnants of bodies that became only a head. It ate the edges of the images that would have been landscape before. It took risks without worrying about the continuity of the drawn lines. It ate architectures that easily adapted to living without some pieces. It ate phrases from the Internet. It ate the cities, the jungle, the portraits, and nature that is born compact, but that is eaten every day. In the recent works of Pedro Varela, devouring became an autophagic gesture and consciousness. To devour is an imposing verb for someone who decides to dive into creative activities.
The act of reviewing his own drawings and paintings, trimming them and taking advantage of the pieces, is perhaps, already a fact, from the beginning of Varela's production. Therefore, here, it is not a question of the "hypocrisy of longing", in reference to Oswald de Andrade's terms from the Anthropophagic Manifesto. To select, to section, to give meaning to the paper fragments, and to imagine apparitions are procedures that we see in the artist’s works along his career. As in the reflections on anthropophagy, we have always rebelled against the statement that "we have never had grammar, or collections of old vegetables." On the contrary, the importation of norms and behavioural rules from other cultures was a dastardly, ill-fated adaptation, and the most coherent response to such a global reference would be frustration "against all importers of canned conscience." In Varela's recent production, a renewed interest and a lively dialogue with the present transform the place of "canned" fantasy – futuristic condition – and collage, into mechanisms of suspension and speech agility.
Still maintaining a certain childish desire, Pedro throws himself into the acidity of colours, taking the landscape to impossible places. In the drawings, the separate heads, as in the condition of portraits, turn the stories autonomous; we do not recognize heroes, we globalize signs. Symbols for recycling, and serrated fists in fighting mode mix with nonsensical questions: "When did all this begin?", "It will get worse". The phrases taken out of context, also used in collages, quickly make sense; they reconnect and generate circularity. Perhaps, here, the creation of "scripts" – nowadays compasses for the virtual – reaffirms the condition of what Oswald called the "right to sleepwalk"; another way to become effective, through fragmented visions. Such are the days when we stand before the plethora of images and phrases from the virtual world, but are there still other worlds? Facts become only correlates, where diffusion through the media generates apocryphal comments. We see a rotten globalization, sometimes through gestures of absurd destruction, sometimes through plots that only become legible when subtitled. Presentiment, post-judgment. These are the conditions of what constitutes what we can still call: narrative.
In Pedro Varela's production colour becomes activated in several ways. On more independent occasions, filters are applied, almost as in the post-production modes, typical of the infographic environment. In the varied vegetation, Varela creates a certain sequentiality of colour, separating areas, adding gradients. Images come in and out of context, just like a renewed logic, today, but already present in cubist collages. And the phrases update these overlaps, slogans like, "here on the periphery of capitalism," "stupid place," and "general strike." Thus, in addition to fable and futurism, there are moments of "here and now", where we stand, even in the abstract conditions of the hardships of the world. We perceive, in a different way, a certain "unification of all revolts", also a verse present in the Anthropophagic Manifesto.
Anthropophagy, autophagy, to review old paintings, to deal with what has been forgotten and badly done, makes use of the pretext of looking and repositioning one’s own history. In autophagy, we see Pedro Varela approaching a gesture that is also in pieces, the Oswaldian gesture as a mote to review the modernist anthropophagic condition, where the strength of the outside became renewed in the synthesis. What do we swallow? What do we regurgitate? How to deal with the otherness that is beyond standards, in environments that aim to be more infinite? Collage, once a way of piecing together, now invents contexts, fosters collusions, and comes close to the most sordid will to power that emerges from the false, the fake, generating unimaginable developments. These are promises of inner worlds that can never become images. All of this causes the artist to question the possibility of dealing with otherness; the first will of Brazilian modernism.
If what unites us is a devouring, as in the terms of Oswald de Andrade, what to do with what remains in pieces? "Autophagy" presents us the production of Pedro Varela, who revolts before the unfinished, wondering what has always been his.