You can’t always see composition.
Caio Fonseca is the son of the Uruguayan sculptor Gonzalo Fonseca, brother to the artist Bruno Fonseca and brother to the writer Isabel Fonseca as well. So from Day One, Fonseca has been enveloped in different creative methodologies by which to transcend everyday language.
“Between musical composition, painting and sculpture, I am laughably busy,” the 63-year-old American painter said. “But with the right organization I am allowed entry into three distinct ways of expressing the core artistic imagination, which keeps fueling and inspiring my sense of discovery.”
But neither music nor painting nor sculpture reigns supreme for him. Fonseca doesn’t have a favorite.
“Each has its own wonders,” he said.
The multitalented, internationally renowned artist will visit Jackson this week in conjunction with his 28-piece show hanging at Tayloe Piggott Gallery.
“It is a very large exhibition, both in scope and scale,” said Katie Franklin Cohn, associate director for the gallery. “We have not held a solo exhibition with Caio Fonseca since 2014. While this is not our first solo exhibition with Caio, this one feels special. To my knowledge we are currently the only gallery in the country with access to Caio Fonseca’s work straight from the studio, which is no small thing.”
Fonseca’s work is in numerous public and private collections: New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian Institution; Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts; and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, to name a few.
His ability to create a lexicon within an individual work is simultaneously clear and retrievable while being complex theoretically.
“I think I have always been thinking about composition, long before I even began studying it,” the artist said. “When I finally started the formal study of composition, I realized and was amazed at how I had been finding pectoral equivalences for harmony, rhythms and counterpoint, the relationship of intervals, etc.
“I realized that I was even reading my canvases from left to right,” he said. “So there is now a constant cross-pollination going on.”
A kind of simplicity is always a goal, he said, but that goal is highly complex: “To find unity between many parts is difficult,” he said. “Experience helps greatly.”
Fonseca said he never evokes the symbolic in his visual renderings. Nor are they emblematic or even abstractions. They are entirely what they are, and the viewer is the strange attractor in the art process.
Elements “only serve to bring out the hidden underlying proportions in such a way that a viewer — even if unsure what he or she is looking at — is drawn into the dialogue and choreography on the surface of the canvas, that the contents of the painting, whether playful or austere, are held together by some invisible creative force.
“Also, every inch of the surface has to sing with a physical life,” he said. “It’s not just an idea.”
It is an absolutely intuitive absorption of risk-taking, adding and subtracting until the painting is found, he said.
Fonseca has a piano just off his art studio, and he says it is not uncommon for him to go back and forth when he needs to change languages or take a break from one of them.
“I try not to get paint on the keys,” he said. “While I play through a lot of piano literature, I am focused mostly on composition now. I study pieces by Bach, Ravel, Berg or Adams as I am asking myself musical questions in composition.”
Fonseca said there is no direct link from one painting to one piece of music; rather, he describes them as two distinct languages: “like French and Italian — similar and yet entirely its own idiom.”
Which offers insight into Fonseca’s sculptures that are also part of the Piggott show.
“I really have to switch gears to get into the world of three dimensions,” he said. “It is vastly different and exciting to be creating, searching for forms that must express themselves from every possible angle, unlike in painting, which contains its own light.”
The son of a stone sculptor, Fonseca said “the world of dust is not unfamiliar.” But clearly, he has his own approach to the medium, not just a legacy to carry on. Recently Fonseca has undertaken several groups of sculptures in raw cast aluminum, wood and stone.
Whatever the medium Fonseca is working in, music, sculpture or painting, his fascination for tone and form materializes into geometry and dimensional balance that allows viewers to experience for themselves what is, or isn’t, on the paper.
A reception for Fonseca begins at 6 p.m. Thursday with appetizers and libations, and Fonseca will give a short talk halfway through the evening. The work hangs at Tayloe Piggott through July 31. ￼