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A matéria da vida
Paula Braga
2012

If we wanted to search for a word that is already established in the lexical of art history to describe the drawings, collages and paintings by Bruno Kurru, we could choose Surrealism. His work, nevertheless, has a lightness that is not in tandem with the disturbing image that are trademarks of the European movement of the period post World War I. One needs to leave Europe, the West, to arrive to a word that summarizes Kurru's compositions made of juxtaposed and superposed fragments: the word mind fits better his production than the word unconscious.
Mysterious words appear scattered in Kurru's canvases, such as JITA TMA, an adaptation to Western characters of the word that in Sanskrit means mind control. It is not anymore a wild unconscious pouring images on the canvas, but it is the very act of painting that leads to a process of introspection, of controlled diving in a mind that, on a non-Western model of anatomy, is connected to spirit.
Signs of mental illumination, such as lamps and open books, are constant in these works, as well as the sky, of the softest blue, and characters who have doors or extra eyes on their heads. As in a yoga practice, in which repetition of postures leads the practitioner to the control and knowledge of his/her mind, signs such as eyes, mouths and birds are repetitiously painted in Bruno Kurru's daily practice of painting. The change in mental states, aiming at a state of illumination is, according to techniques of yoga and meditation, a process? ?constructed with perseverance,? ?and the advances on this light-year-long road are measured in millimeters. Maybe that is why Kurru´s compositions use small rectangles cut out from decorated papers, tiny human figures digging their heads in books, and large celestial spaces.
Also little familiar to our culture is the fact that spiritual ascension does not imply bodily suffer. On the opposite, the body is the only communication channel with the mind, and the physical world comprehends the universe of subtle forms that the state of illumination aims to achieve. Thus the recurrent theme of the grass in Kurru´s paintings, fixing us on this world, and the use of wood and screws in constructivist compositions that work as support for his delicate images. The very urban culture is well received in this illustration of post-modern spiritual enlightenment. Condensation of sensitive states, as it has already been said by Matisse.

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A pintura de Bruno Kurru fica dentro de outra pintura. Cada tela é feita de várias telas. As coisas se abrem para interiores menores que paradoxalmente remetem novamente ao todo. A parte, ao invés de detalhar, expande. Ficamos presos então nesse labirinto espiralado dentro do qual olhar de perto me joga de volta para a amplidão. O todo está dentro da parte, numa inversão da racionalidade, jogando-nos no incompreensível. Em uma das telas, o universo surge num buraco no asfalto, que foi aberto com uma pincelada. O corpo que pincela o buraco aparece repetido em menor escala na beirada do abismo, estratégia de replicação recorrente nessas pinturas, seja na reflexão de um espelho, seja num eu que se desgarra do corpo, esvaziando-o. A mesma cena é por vezes pintada duas vezes, contendo sua versão miniatura dentro de si mesma. Nó no pensamento, como o nó do pensar sobre o existir. Ou, como escrito numa das pinturas, legendada como um filme, “how can one reach this state of self-understanding?”.
Por que vejo o universo escuro com pontos brilhantes quando fecho os olhos? Se há Deus, está dentro ou fora de mim? Existe um órgão corpóreo para a consciência? O que difere o corpo vivo do corpo morto? Onde fica a matéria vida?
No princípio do século 20, uma teoria pseudo-científica sugeriu que a alma pesava 21 gramas. Esse valor era a diferença média obtida em uma série de medições da massa de um corpo vivo e logo após a constatação da morte. A matéria vida então seria bem leve, mais ou menos o peso de 4 folhas de papel sulfite. Olho as pinturas de Bruno Kurru e vejo as colagens, as imitações de papel, a brancura rabiscada de três ou quatro retângulos pequenos sobrepostos para formar o todo, como se a superfície pintada, descontando o peso do canvas e do chassis, pesasse 21 gramas, como se o ato de pintar resultasse no peso da vida.
Kurru segue as investigações existenciais adicionando a seu repertório de imagens – ao lado dos papéis decorados, dos pedaços de corpos, dos espelhos e labirintos, e das referências a filosofias orientais – signos da nossa conexão com o mundo virtual. A estrutura de colagem das composições adquire então camadas transparentes, representadas pelo quadriculado cinza e branco usado pelo Photoshop, e janelas flutuantes com mensagens de erro. Assim, o artista inclui nas suas telas a mais recente onda metafísica da humanidade, nossa vida em rede, em conexão com o mundo virtual: “A rede pertence a um pensamento metafísico. Ela apreende ao mesmo tempo o corpo humano hic et nunc e liga esse corpo ao grande corpo do mundo: é uma noção bio-meta-física."(1)
No dia-a-dia, o lugar que a rede cibernética representa é algo similar a um cosmos misterioso, um céu vasto e inacessível, para onde dirigimos nossas mensagens, como preces, e de onde espera-se receber uma resposta. As figuras olham para o céu e para a tela do computador. Procuram o lugar da vida, da consciência, dento do corpo que contém também o universo. “Apply consciouness.exe”.
Quem faz as perguntas existenciais são as figuras pintadas por Kurru ou quem olha essas telas? Ora, se cada pintura tem outra pintura dentro dela, talvez quem olha esteja mesmo em uma outra pintura, maior. E assim sucessivamente.
Talvez o entendimento seja o instante final.

(1) Anne Cauquelin, Concept pour un passage, in Quaderni, n. 3, “Images et imaginaires des réseaux”, p. 31-40, Winter 1987-88. CREDAP, Université de Paris-IX Dauphine.

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THE MATERIAL OF LIFE
Paula Braga

Bruno Kurru's painting is inside another painting. Each of them consisting of several paintings. Things open into smaller interiors that paradoxically refer back to the whole. Instead of showing details, each part expands. We are stuck in this spiral labyrinth, within which the act of looking closely hurls one back to vastness. The whole is within the part, in an inversion of rationality, sending us reeling into the incomprehensible. In one of the paintings, the universe emerges from a hole in the asphalt that has been opened up by a brushstroke. The body that paints the hole is repeated on a smaller scale on the edge of the abyss, a recurrent replication strategy in these paintings, in the reflection of a mirror, or in a self that is disjoined from the body and hollows it out. The same scene is sometimes painted twice, containing a miniature version within itself. Knot in thought, like the knot in thinking about existing. Or, as written on one of the paintings, subtitled like a film, "how can one reach this state of self-understanding?".
Why do I see the dark universe with bright spots when I close my eyes? If there is a God, is it inside or outside of me? Is there a bodily organ for consciousness? In what does a living body differ from a dead body? Where is the material of life?
In the early 20th century, a pseudo-scientific theory suggested that the soul weighed 21 grams. This value was the average difference, obtained from a series of measurements, between the mass of a living body and of such body immediately after the certification of death. Life-material therefore would be very light, weighing more or less the same as four sheets of plain paper. I look at Bruno Kurru's paintings and see collages, imitations of paper, the scribbled whiteness of three or four small rectangles overlapped to form a whole, as if the painted surface, taking away the weight of the canvas and frame, weighed 21 grams, as if the act of painting resulted in the weight of life.
Kurru continues his existential investigations adding to the repertoire of images - along with decorated papers, pieces of bodies, mirrors and labyrinths, and references to Eastern philosophies - signs of our connection to the virtual world. The structure holding together the compositions then acquires transparent layers, represented by the gray and white checkerboard used by Photoshop, and floating error-message windows. Thus, his paintings include humanity's most recent metaphysical trend, our networked life in connection with the virtual world: “The network pertains to metaphysical thought. At the same time, it apprehends the human body hic et nunc and connects this body to the great body of the world: it is a bio-meta-physical notion."(1)
In day-to-day life, the locus that the cybernetic network represents is something of a mysterious cosmos, vast and inaccessible heavens to which we direct our messages, like prayers, and hope to get a response from them. His figures are looking up to the heavens and at a computer screen. They are searching for the place of life, of consciousness, within the body that contains the universe too. “Apply consciouness.exe”.
Who asks the existential questions? The figures painted by Kurru or those viewing these paintings? If every painting has another painting in it, perhaps the viewer is in yet another painting that is bigger again. And so on.
Perhaps understanding is the final moment.

(1) Anne Cauquelin, Concept pour un passage, in Quaderni, n. 3, “Images et imaginaires des réseaux”, p. 31-40, Winter 1987-88. CREDAP, Université de Paris-IX Dauphine.

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Paula Braga 2012