Meandering Concrete (Concreto Sinuoso)
Curves and volutes carved in wooden channels filled with concrete. Rodrigo Sassi’s sculptures condense different constructive trends in one single piece. Using raw materials borrowed from construction sites, the artist creates forms in space that go beyond the construction industry vocabulary: the veneer and the cement used to build beams or columns gain a meandering lightness in the artist’s three-dimensional works. Laid on the floor or integrated into gallery walls, the sculptures refer to the lyrical gesture of abstract painting.
In his analysis of Anthony Caro’s works in the book Passages in Modern Sculpture, Rosalind Krauss establishes a difference between the work’s imagetic sense and its concrete elements. The criticism refers to the double vocation of certain works of the sculptor, working as a physical construction and also pictorially, depending on where the spectator stands. “From the ‘side’ the viewer (…) senses the work in terms of its mass, because it shares the same space that he does, and clearly related to a ground that is the same as his own. From the ‘front,’ this orientation to a horizontal ground changes completely. The work becomes a vertical assembly, and is not only sensed as flattened, but as irrevocably distant as well.”” writes Krauss about one of the British sculptor’s work.
This reasoning applies perfectly to Sassi’s three-dimensional research. The artist’s constructive intelligence allows frontal perception of the works, the very point of view of the construction of the work, as a rectangular pictorial occupation of the space. As paintings, they present themselves to the public eye as lines and textures of volume and reminiscent organicality of Frank Stella and Aaron Curry’s objects. Sassi’s sculptures are presented both as physical structure to be covered; as objects, they draw attention to the surface and the continuities and discontinuities interaction between the constituent parts of its substrate. In their compressed condition as images, the works refer to an imaginary writing where several hollow plans overlap graphically. On the concrete experience of spatialization in space, they present themselves as irreconcilable plans, which spread in a disorienting way.
The experience of the city permeates Sassi’s works since college days. His major assignment at FAAP in 2006 involved the “exhibition” of several urban interventions in rented construction buckets placed at several streets throughout São Paulo. The works developed by the artist before his current three-dimensional pieces entitled Pinturas Infiltrórias (2010-13) were “paintings” created by the infiltration of pigmented water in rectangles made of concrete – synthesis of a poetic observation that everyone has experienced once, of the cracks in the wall caused by water leaks. Other works could be listed in this inventory of the artist’s struggles with his hometown.
As Walter Benjamin teaches us, “The superficial pretext – the exotic and the picturesque – appeals only to the outsider. To depict a city as a native would calls for other, deeper motives — the motives of the person who journeys into the past, rather than to foreign parts. The account of a city given by a native will always have something in common with memoirs; it is no accident that the writer has spent his childhood there.”. Sao Paulo is in the DNA of Rodrigo Sassi’s art. The brutalist architecture; the grey color; the graffiti and the skateboard culture; the night; and the music. With and against all this, the artist creates a meandering architecture in reinforced concrete, makes the city dance, delirious, the body with its clothes inside out.