Among the characteristics that determine a city’s growth, geographic formation can be seen as a starting point for urban development. The city’s plan and the localization of rivers, lakes and seas are among the many items to be considered. In São Paulo, for instance, urban space has been organized around the city’s center, with its cluttered streets and streams of sewage.
In lively contact with the city of São Paulo, Rodrigo Sassi’s work aims to be a reflection of the city’s geography – full of curves, intersections, declivities, rubbish and ash, density, and ramifications – transformed by the work of time on matter,
While builders use reinforced concrete for buildings, Sassi uses it in his sculptures; concrete – reinforced – allows the artist to create lines, flexible and angled like São Paulo’s streets, in direct dialogue between environment and proposal.
Between heaven and earth, bubbles!- 2013: in this work, selected as a Seasonal Project for the Paço das Artes, Sassi draws “clouds” of reinforced concrete that float in space; a work resembling water, rigid when solid, malleable when liquid: an architecture of the impossible, real only within the universe of art.
Most of the sculptures, reaching standard room height, entice the observer, embracing him within their contours. Though imposing, they deal with concepts of a vernacular architecture using, as their basic material, resources that belong to the construction space itself.
Rodrigo Sassi adopts things found in city streets, wooden planks and plastic hoses, discarded and thrown into trash bins, being the main objects used by the artist. In EXPT 03 – 2011, a work named after a code number printed on one of the hose-wrappings, is a structure molded using salvaged veneers. In this way, though smaller than the original – Splash – 2013 – Tripartite – 2012; Naval Perspective – 2012; Point for Retreat – 2012; The Corner of A#major – 2011 are – among others – sculptures inter -related to the city’s surface, whereas Infiltrating Paintings – 2010-2013 dialogue hidden within a world of drains.
Not wholly by chance, the artist works with infiltrations, a characteristic latent in grey cities like Sao Paulo. The vast majority of rivers being canalized and green areas practically non-existent, rainfall finds few places into which to drain, ending up flooding the city. Needless to say, in Sassi’s case, urban infiltration is strictly restricted to the painting’s perimeter!
Following the logic of the materials used in his sculptures, though adding pigmentation, the paintings called Infiltrating Paintings show an infiltration going from inside outwards, a domestic infiltration, one might say. Through holes in the hose, paint finds a way in which to penetrate cracks in the concrete. Composing images remindful of water pathways, the work returns the river to its place of origin: the surface.
In Orange Wrap – 2013 Sassi finds the point of intersection between his sculptures and the series Infiltrating Paintings, works that cannot be defined as using one technique, for while painting with orange he simultaneously models concrete over wood. His production stems from an experimental process, a hybrid of technique and expression; a work in which risk guides form, reaching out to where only time can tell!
So it is that like the city, Sassi holds no control over his development, a factor that actually stimulates his creative process. The artist – architect of the impossible – constructs destruction making the unusual the rule, between dead ends and flowing rivers, leading us on who knows where!