Walter Miranda
Plastic Artist

The Fruition of Looking in the work of Walter Miranda

By Flávia Venturoli Miranda

THE FRUITION OF LOOKING in the work of Walter Miranda



I have been carefully analyzing the works of artist Walter Miranda during his dynamic career. In it, in addition to the constant social and humanist themes, there is an increasing evolution, where the current work was already latent in the oldest works. Walter began his career as a skilled illustrator in 1976, with a great command of drawing and various techniques (gouache, ink, graphite). These illustrations were reproductions of realistic and hyper-realistic images of scenes from films or created by him commissioned by publishers. At that time, there are already some overlays of scenes and text in the works.


In 1977 he debuted as a visual artist through the work entitled: Hope is the Last that Dies, where some important elements for this analysis and comparison with future works appear. The oil on canvas has the night with few stars in the background, and a star at the top stands out. In the background, at the top on the right is a large mouth that screams. In the foreground is a boy with his head down with his back to the viewer. All of these references will be abundantly developed in subsequent years. The starry night, over the years, will become a wide, clear and diverse outer space with stars, galaxies and nebulae. It is as if the hope was becoming greater and greater and with infinite possibilities. The cry is both anguish and anger, as it has so many teeth on display. This clamor and anger will be repeated constantly in each new series, not as explicit as in this picture but in several metaphorical ways, direct, indirect, comparative to and with other symbolisms. The boy with his head down is the self-portrayed artist, then 23 years old. You see a disenchanted and ashamed boy who does not show his pain head-on, but hopefully walks towards his starry dreams. The cry represents the outburst of the artist and the repression suffered at the beginning of his career for having made this professional choice. This same hopeful vision of a better future appears in the picture Bedroom Window, his own dark room with a luminous view of the street and the Itaquera skyline where the artist grew up. Still this year, the artist begins to use collages superimposing correlated and opposed images and ideas. This will be a striking feature of your work later on.


At the same time Walter began to participate in the student movement against the country's dictatorial regime, in force since 1964, and represents his experience in a series of works that show youngsters being beaten by soldiers or being rescued by colleagues, tear gas bombs etc. This is just the beginning of his cry for freedom; Walter will continue to address the issues of repression, lack of freedom, mistreatment, violence, more and more in depth. In 1978 and 1979, the social-themed paintings intensified, portraying poor people, but with dignity, in their simple living and working environments. In 1980, his daughter is born and the pictures with children multiply. In 1981, the counterpoints in the Social Transposition series, show poor children in rich environments and vice versa. The curious thing about this series is that Walter did not know the environment of the rich peolpe and had to seek information to be able to represent them. Research will also be a strong feature in its future series. With the Social Transpositions series he made his first solo exhibition.  In the Social Transpositions, his "splashed" style of painting emerges and his first works with silhouettes on cardboard that he himself produces. The main element of his future works, the star of his repertoire, the Earth, also appears for the first time. We can already see the path that Walter's themes will take. Not to mention that in another picture, electronic panels, world map, rocket launching are already appearing, all recurring in his pictorial repertoire.


In 1982, Walter extrapolates national political issues and artistically documents the Malvinas War and is awarded at the V Salon of Art for Young Artists in Santo André with the paintings: Argentine check, English check and checkmate. In this small series, the tables are chess boards whose matches dispute the possession of the Malvinas Islands. The pieces of this chess consist of semi-spherical lemon peels, painted in the colors of the British and Argentine flags, representing the soldiers' helmets. In each picture there is a stage of the war. In the first 2 works, the island in dispute is split in half with the board in the center. In them, the strategic arrangement of Argentine and English helmets varies according to the war moment. In the last table, checkmate occurs with the island joined in the center of the board and with other pieces of this chess arranged around the island. These pieces are glass with red paint, representing containers with blood from the dead in the war, without distinction of country. One last piece, in the center of the island board, is one of those empty and open containers, as if to ask: will there be more bloodshed to fill it? This series was very successful as the language for representing the Malvinas War games, both for being succinct and clear, as well as being playful and ironic. It is self-explanatory and provokes the viewer. These pictures influence future series because they initiate world political and philosophical debates and the insertion of objects, in which the picture becomes three-dimensional.


1983 was a prolific year. Walter is awarded at the 11th Contemporary Art Salon in Santo André, with his paintings on the world soccer cup of 1982 in Spain. It is interesting to note that the artist starts to do technical experimentation using sawdust on cardboard manufactured by himself. The paintings show scenes of decisive games of the crown where the characters have faceted faces, as if they were carved in wood and unfinished, which makes them impersonal and not very expressive. At the background of the football field, signs and signs are seen as advertisements, however they are critical: inflation, violence, perks, injustice, hunger etc. Also in 1983, Walter started the paintings Every ISM is Opium to the People, the work of high and low relief and geometric composition, where each part is related to the others, while themselves are independent. The upper rectangle of the frames with multiple images, symbols, scenes, texts related to the lower rectangle that contains a stylized flag and a word. In Brazil, the word is freedom, in the Soviet Union, Solidarnosc (Solidarity of Poland) and in the United States, the savior (el Salvador, the country). All topics and discussions of his time.


Still in 1983, the series 1984 - George Orwell's Stigma, was awarded at the São Bernardo do Campo Salon. In this series, Walter criticizes Brazilian economic policy, stylizing human figures (which look like robots). The paintings have a closed, suffocating frame, with a short perspective and no horizon, crowded crowds circulate in the streets and sidewalks of São Paulo. In the background are the signs on the store fronts with slogans: crunch, sovereignty, democracy, packages, strike, moratorium, fraud. The alienated people without perspective, massified, caged, continue to live their lives calmly controlled by the Big Brother. This series marks the beginning of his discussion of human massification. Over the years, the human figures of automatons, which appear to be inanimate, become silhouettes, as if they were shadows, or an indefinite memory of real people. In the following year, 1984, Walter wrote a Manifesto in favor of the popular campaign Diretas Já on a large panel, which was exposed at the opening of the 12th Contemporary Art Salon in Santo André. The panel was an invitation to the audience of the hall to express themselves in relation to the campaign for direct elections. It was voraciously filled on the first day of the exhibition, requiring additional banners to be placed around the hall for further demonstrations.


The Beethoven project, from 1985, was a proposal by Walter to 2 more artists to plastically represent the symphonies of the master of classical music. In the works of the series, the experiences of the plastic artist with fusions of various styles of pictorial representation can be seen along with the work of abstract painting and color research. From the 80's this is its most colorful series, each painting has a dominant hue but is rich in diversity of colors. Banded composition is no longer just horizontal but also diagonal. More and more texts are seen within his works, a sign that anticipates the writer side of the plastic artist, who writes materials for his exhibitions and eventually for newspapers and magazines, in addition to didactic handouts on artistic themes. More and more universal themes take place in his works, such as the massification of the people, hunger, injustice, etc. In this series, the elements of his reference collection are almost all present: Earth, pollution, violence, the Statue of Liberty, the mushroom cloud, weapons of mass destruction, wars, the question of Palestine, the child , poverty, hunger, the worker. His artistic repertoire gets richer.


The painting To be and not to have..., from 1986, refers to the picture from 1977, Hope is the Last to Die, this time on the starry night (with more stars already), a hungry boy hugs his disconsolate knee sitting on the planet, almost at your feet there is the globe divided politically into countries. The pain of the previous decade is still present in the form of a hungry boy. Also 1986, begins the long series Brave New World, where social and ideological themes join the issue of global ecology. With the more abstract work, and the constructivist composition, but without losing the figurative, he works on the themes in a more subjective way, allowing the viewer to reach his own conclusions. In this phase, the use of computer parts also emerges and, deeply influenced by his studies on mathematics and physics, he uses the Golden Mean as a basic tool of his compositions. Now, his repertoire is practically complete, with Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvius man, the planet Earth, insertion of electronic, mechanical and nature components in his works. In 1989, he started using animals found dead. In 1991 it innovates by using perforated iron sheet as a support. There is a constant demand for heterodox supports ranging from the manufacture of cardboard itself, to the use of iron sheets or computer boards. In his 1992 works, he proposed, in a subtle but emphatic way, the search for human balance in the use of technology, through the representation of ballet dancers.


The work on the Seattle indigenous chief, Seattle Project - Exaltation of Gaia of 1996, is a very clear synthesis of an artistic career and a constant search for justice, for coherent attitudes. It is a vision that shows us humility before Mother Earth - Gaia, present in all the pictures in the series. Man is asked about the inconsistency of his unstructured development that created his disintegration with nature. Always worked in a clear and clean way, meticulously composed and rich in details, the theme is developed in each frame through the rational fractionation of rectangles with sub-themes. The use of the logarithmic spiral unites the sub-themes with their organic line in opposition to the mathematical rigidity of the golden rectangles. Innovating, as always, and updated with his time, Walter begins to insert digitalized images, created and worked with a great command of computer graphics in his works. In these works, he initiates the more intense use of colors and the research of textures, giving more vitality to the theme, which deals with world ecology, without ever losing the opportunity to question the human attitude towards social, ideological and technological problems, as well as to seek solutions for the return to global balance.


In 1998, in the series Brave New Middle Ages, he explored the timeless analogies of the world at the beginning of the 21st century, with the Middle Ages. It contrasts in an ironic and dramatic way the highly technological world that has not yet managed to detach itself from the quality of (sub) life of the Middle Ages. Walter, showing the similarities of our time with the past, makes social, economic, ecological, technological and, above all, philosophical criticism. The Brave New Middle Ages series is a good exercise in contemporary reflection on the (virtual, perhaps) quality of modern life. These questions arise in the paintings through the approach of opposite situations showing new and old images about the different subjects in which the two eras are similar. The artist continues his debate on human and social issues; and also continues his pictorial research on composition, color, texture, insertion of objects and digitized images. The counterpoint also occurs in his works when he uses the traditional technique of oil painting combined with contemporary techniques of three-dimensional interferences and images worked on the computer. The plastic artist and the electronic artist coexist on the same plane, which is simultaneously two-dimensional and three-dimensional. Color and texture research, giving more vitality to the theme, which deals with world ecology, without ever losing the opportunity to question the human attitude in the face of social, ideological and technological problems, as well as seeking solutions for the return to global balance.


In the series Brave New Millennium of 1999, he continues to address philosophical, scientific, environmental, religious, mystical issues etc., related to the human situation in the beginning of the third millennium, through the use of oil painting and virtual computer graphics, always allied with the incorporation of objects representative of the current technological moment (computer boards, diskettes), natural elements (leaves and seeds of plants) and everyday objects (jewelry, stamps etc.). In this series, Walter takes yet another innovative leap in his artistic development by using only computer graphics resources to create some entirely virtual paintings that effectively only exist in digital form (even though their printing is possible), raising the question for the observer about what it is virtual and what is real. The controversy this time is about how much we are deluded by the senses, since the subtle difference between the real and the virtual begins to merge in several other situations of modern day life, to the point that the expression “virtual reality” was created.


As can be seen, his work continues to aggregate, from previous works, the discussions, polemics, reflections and insertions of recurring objects added to those of the new context under debate. It is a cumulative process of ideas, ideals and techniques, but with common goals. It is as if Walter were eager to acquire and absorb all the knowledge and experience of humanity in order to express through his work the need to recover human dignity.


In 2001, Walter resumed the development of the series Brave New Middle Ages (revisited) using the child as a theme to make comparisons between today and the Middle Ages, continuing his research and his technical evolution of using the computer only as another tool for artistic expression and not as an object of Art itself.  


Another interesting work from 2001 is the Book of Gaia, composed of 3 computer boards joined together to form a book. Each plaque is a page, the first deals with the development of Man from prehistory to Antiquity, the second deals with the period from Antiquity to the Industrial Revolution and the last deals with the phase of the Industrial Revolution to the present day. The computer boards had their electronic components rearranged to better arrange the figurative elements in the composition. Each page contains objects and/or images related to the theme, such as: chipped stone cover, rock paintings, wheat, cuneiform writing, solar eclipse; on page two mathematical spirals, human figure by Da Vinci, world map, mechanical parts; on the last page, atomic mushroom, vultures on a dump, the clock destroyed by the bomb in Hiroshima, an ozone hole. The Earth book itself is computing hardware, which has the function, (and there is an analogy), of storing and computing information. Walter insinuates that man's bio evolutionary function would be that of storing information and knowledge like a computer memory chip. Humanity with all its multiplicity would be a single being, which would form the complete hardware that contains all the existing information sufficient to compute and store wisdom in relation to itself, the planet and the whole, forming a large database, software universal.  


In 2002, comes the series Reale et Virtuale, when he returns to the question, started in 1999 in the works of the Brave New Millennium, about the perception of truth and illusion. The proposal is absolutely philosophical. Right at the entrance of the exhibition, the artist challenges the viewer to identify through graphic impressions of his works, which are the real ones (painted by hand) and which are virtual (created on the computer). Inside the exhibition is the answer showing only real works.  


Walter calls reals paintings those made of matter, that is wood, oil paint, glued objects and pieces; and he calls virtual  paintings those made of energy, that is, digital information created and stored in the computer, because they only exist as material when they are printed graphically. The difference between the two types of works is indistinguishable and evokes the question of the virtual appearing to be real and vice versa. Now, if we do not know how to distinguish reality from illusion in a pictorial work, imagine how much of our perception of the world can be wrong. Walter's provocation is: after all what is reality? What is really essential? What is virtually important? These issues are involved within the themes in the artist's works in this series that revisits the brave worlds: new, old, planetary, ecological, humanistic, technological, political, social etc. The paintings of this harvest are more detailed and more cheerful, with more delicate, colorful objects and more figures painted in oil, that is, a network of correlations even more elaborated to be observed. Obviously there are also pictures with heavy criticism of the system, after all it is an exhibition by Walter Miranda. 


Walter's works are always thought-provoking and reflective. They take time, because we need to carefully observe the richness of highly intricate information related to serious and profound issues, which bring us back the fruition of look for hours at a work of Art.

                                                                                                                               Flávia Venturoli – november/2002

Walter Miranda
Ateliê Oficina FWM de Artes
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