Walter Miranda
Plastic Artist

Works of the artist


Insular Time

– Listing 11 items

Catalogue Insular Time

Insular Time


“Art exists because life is not enough”.

This sentence, written by the Brazilian poet Ferreira Gullar (1930-2016), has never been so current and significant. No matter the time, culture, religion, race, etc., the human spirit has always felt the need to express itself through artistic resources. This is one of the factors that differentiate us from other creations of Nature, the mother Gaia.

The time of isolation due to covid-19 served to many artists create works of art. It was no different with me. It was not enough to be protected, guarded and well accompanied. The internet was not enough to integrate me with distant friends, relatives, artists or to keep me up to date on events over the planet. Life was not enough and Art sprouted in many senses, in many ways, with many excuses, motives and themes. It was a time to paint because life was not enough!

It was a time of epidemic; a time of retreat; a time of numbness; a time of hopes; a time of despair; a time of discoveries; a time of empathy; a time of selfishness; a time of cowardice; a time of betrayals; a time of heroism; a time of troubles; a time of disappointments; a time of sorrows; a time of surprises; a time of flowers; a time of weeping; a time to laugh; a time to love; a time of hating; a time of exaltations; a time of abominations; a time of unions; a time of separations; a time of alienations; a time of aversions; a time of liberation; a time of salvation; a time of self-knowledge; a time of health; a time to die; a time to revive; a time of pain; a time of peace; a time to dibble; a time of reaping; a time of withdrawal; a time of integration; a time to reflect.

Anyway, it was a period of insulation and the works of this Insular Time are the result of my moments lived in a phase of life that, as postulated by Dr. Margareth Dalcolmo (1954) in her recent book, is “A Time Not To Forget”.

In this way, Art served me as an escape valve, for reflection, encounter and introspection, in several of the moments that I mentioned and that led me to the creation of some poignant and other poetic works; some critical others exultant; some exalting life others questioning the lack of empathy; some showing the beautiful side of the human being, others awakening a certain discredit in humanity. These moments of inflection led me according to each situation without offering any resistance by myself. The result is the works that make up this exhibition called Insular Time.

Although the biggest initial concern was with the elderly, there was also the concern of the global medical system to protect pregnant women and their children. This inspired me to create some works related to pregnancy and they became part of the recurring series called Exaltation to Gaia, that I have been developing since the 1990s. It correlates with planetary life by associating Mother Earth and motherhood human. The paintings in this series exalt the importance of the planet Earth, a universal cell that harbors immense biological diversity, but also expose its fragility represented by the balance of dancers who revere mother Gaia, the Greek goddess who represents Earth and Nature. At the same time, the works make an analogy with three important components of our planetary system: Earth, Moon and Sun as elements that generate life in the way we know it and the conditions for its maintenance.

Within that same impetus, came the work called Universal Metaphysical Chip, composed of electronic capacitors and mini led lamps on electronic circuit boards painted by me. In it, the planet Earth, painted in oil on canvas, is at the center as if it were a virtual electronic processor and radiates energy lines in the same way that the lines of a real electronic chip conduct energy to the other components of the electronic circuit. Thus, in philosophical terms, the center of the universe would be here, in the same way that each and every universal point would be the center as long as the observer is there.

From the risk of contamination by the disease to the unusual infection that plagued me even though I had been isolated for a year, the project for the installation Covidianis Plana Terrae emerged. It consists in the use of various pictorial elements and three-dimensional objects strategically distributed in a space, measuring 2 x 4m, which can be considered claustrophobic. The installation is composed as follows:

a) A painting pays homage to all healthcare workers who, for me, were true heroes when fighting on the front line against an invisible and dangerous enemy, a constant in this professional activity, especially during historic pandemics. This painting features a three-dimensional panel at the top (painted using the oil painting technique) showing a doctor from the Middle Ages and contemporary doctors and nurses wearing protective clothing and equipment. Next to them are two tracks with electronic elements taken from computers that, due to their similarity in shape, represent the coronavirus. In the center of the painting are the silhouettes of three dancers (painted with layers of splashed oil paint) representing humanity in moments of recognition and fear, as well as the schematic and figurative representation of the coronavirus, in addition to two electronic components removed from internal parts of computers also representing viruses. At the bottom of the frame is a PC monitor with images of the Spanish flu in 1918, the current pandemic and an image of a doctor from the Middle Ages. Beside the monitor, there are two representations of Yersinia pestis (the bacteria that causes the bubonic plague) and the Spanish flu virus. Also next to the monitor are two computer boards (sawn and ground by me) bearing the supposed date of the bubonic plague and the Spanish flu. Two electrical cables come out of the plates towards the images of the bacterium and the virus.

b) Inside the installation there is a work called Coffin Factory that contains an industrial meat grinder that grinds the planet and returns it ground in rows of mini coffins represented by electronic chips alongside hundreds of mini electronic buttons representing the fatal victims of the pandemic. Below, three-dimensional representations of the coronavirus float over small wooden coffins, two of which bear the inscription “me/you?”.

c) Four paintings called Corona Mundi were created using various scraps and electronic components, with the painted silhouette of the continents representing the virus spreading across the planet.

d) Two three-dimensional works represent, on the front and back, two faces of the planet, as if it were flat, and are opposed to a third work composed of a sphere painted with the continents in their actual position. The issue of the planet's sphericity or its supposed flatness generated these three works that were incorporated into the installation to represent the strong resurgence in world culture of the ancient theory of the flat Earth. My intention was to question these outdated cultural values, because in my view, this type of theoretical thinking based on medieval and archaic concepts brings with it several other retrograde concepts referring to science, religion, health, etc. and reinforce a denialism in the face of the critical insular time experienced by all of us. Below the sphere that represents the planet in its true form are 26 syringes without needles that allude to the lack of drugs to treat the deleterious effects of the pandemic.

e) Two paintings called Chloroquine, Our Daily Bread? 1 and 2 show the planet Earth surrounded by semi-spheres made of handmade paper, which I produced, and encrusted with transistors that represent the coronavirus. Some handmade paper pills, also made by me, represent chloroquine pills and hundreds of mini tactile electronic buttons represent a crowd of people who surround the pill in search of an alleged protection.

f) The installation is infested with various two- and three-dimensional representations of the coronavirus scattered throughout the environment both on the walls and floating in the air and causing the impression that we can be hit by the viruses.

g) Hundreds of hospital equipment are scattered along the walls and surround the observers who occupy the space, causing the feeling of an omnipresent hospital environment. In addition, to enter the installation space, spectators pass through a curtain also made with hospital equipment and which creates an atmosphere that is separated from the other spaces of the exhibition in an isolated and insular area.

h) I decided to add another meat grinder to the Covidianis Plana Terrae installation for the “Insular Time” exhibition, because I added several permanent magnet mini rotors whose appearance has a slight similarity to the two-dimensional image of the coronavirus. Their role in this work is to establish a correlation between human technology and molecular biology. This work was part of the series “Cartographies of Gaia” and represents the problem that contemporary society is creating with the excess of garbage that is not reused and thrown in all corners of the planet.

Throughout my artistic production, certain philosophical themes are always recurrent and with the covid-19 pandemic it could not be different. In the 1990s, I created a series of works called Brave New Middle Ages. The term “Brave” is derived from another series of paintings previously painted by me, influenced by the book “Brave New World” written by Aldoux Huxley. The series was created after analyzing human attitudes at that time and seeking to better understand its temporal trajectory through historical studies. I then realized a strong parallel in history: the Middle Ages. All sense of violence, insecurity; loneliness; social despair; risks of epidemics; religious control; professional relationships; spatial displacement; government dependency; social injustices; personal anxieties, etc., that occurred in that decade had, in my opinion, have a certain similarity with the historical period of the past. Thus, I found it interesting to provoke in the spectator reflections about the present and the future using the experiences of the past in an analogous approach to the cyclic space-time continuum, although I believe that time should not be represented exactly by a circle, but by a spiral (very more dynamic, as life is), which has some apparently cyclical characteristics, because it is born at a point and grows continuously, always passing through the same quadrants that provoke certain similarities, but without repeating itself. At the time I painted the works of this series, the risk of serious epidemics was already a concern for some world health authorities, due to the ease with which viruses and bacteria can be disseminated. This has generated the same risk that existed in the Middle Ages with the plagues, now materialized with the current covid-19 pandemic. In fact, the insulation reinforced me even more the feeling that we are still reliving this historical parallel and, therefore, I decided to incorporate the work related to the issue of health in the Insular Time exhibition. To do so, I updated some elements of the work called Brave New Middle Ages - New Corona 1.9 and incorporated new electronic and imagery elements that refer to the current moment at the beginning of this century.

Another situation that generated work during the isolation period was the dichotomy between those who believed in the risk caused by the pandemic and those who denied the seriousness of the situation. Thus, the series of paintings called It's in the Eyes of Those Who See - Pandemic View 1, 2 and 3 and the painting Tower of Babel -2 emerged. The first three address the evolution of the pandemic around the world through the pictorial representation of green, brown and blue eyes and the inclusion of electronic elements characteristic of current technology that generate a stylized image of the virus. The Tower of Babel -2 addresses the polarization between denialists and science advocates regarding the covid-19 pandemic.

The analysis of these philosophical counterpoints led me to a reflection on the human condition throughout the ages and culminated in the creation of the series of works called Evolution Pari Passu, in which four works represent the evolution of our technological domain (during Prehistory, Antiquity, Modern Age and Contemporary Age), compared with the movement of continents over millions of years. The first work represents the beginning of the human path on the planet through footprints left during the collecting phase; cave paintings that refer to the hunter phase; the observation of nature through the observation of the elliptical geometric shape and the primal conception of the existence of the Sun and the Moon as part of their habitat. The continents are united into a supercontinent known as Pangea. The second work represents the spatial occupation of the planet; the invention of writing; the learning of mathematics; the association of natural phenomena with superstitions and their subsequent logical understanding; mastering agricultural, architectural and material techniques; the beginning of the field of electronics. The continents are a little far apart. The third work represents the current moment in which humanity finds itself, with technological mastery being correlated with the risk of environmental and atomic hecatombs. The continents are displayed in the current position. The fourth work represents a distant future in which the continents will be united again in a hypothetical supercontinent called Novopangeia, Neo Pangea, Proximal Pangea or Last Pangea, and most of the records of our civilization will be erased, leaving few traces of the human presence represented by the silhouettes of feet and a hand.

Another work, called Parallel Evolutions, also presents a correlation with human evolution, but now compared with the absorption of knowledge over time. Thus, the first phase is represented by the perception of astronomical elements, such as the Sun, the Moon and the stars, by means of subsistence through hunting and gathering, reaching the domain of fire. The second phase is represented by the invention of the wheel, writing, mathematics and theoretical schemes that explain the world and the universe. The third phase is represented by the Newtonian apple, its gravitational mathematical equation and by Einstein's notorious mathematical equation. The fourth phase refers to the current moment in which humanity is at risk of self-destruction, represented by the image of an atomic mushroom and by some technological elements, one of which, in a circular shape, correlates with Atlantis, the aforementioned city by Plato and destroyed by a natural cataclysm.

The period of insulation also made me think about the human condition and reflect on the question of our influence on the planet. Therefore, I created four more specific works on the environmental and ecological situation that is creating a technological trap for humanity. Thus, the works called Technological Mousetrap 2, Pendular, and Technological Clausura 1 and 2 were born. In them, the planet is held hostage to the environmental consequences created by human beings, and the intention of these works is to instigate philosophical questions about the risk of an ecological calamity caused by humanity by making uncontrolled use of technology created after the industrial revolution.

However, the time of closure was not just a time of sad reflections, there were also moments when nature, for example, generated the impetus to represent some beautiful afternoons crowned by the sunset and, just like in the Skyline series, started from 2017 inspired by the colors of Velazques and Turner and later by Mondrian geometries, I used several boards from computers, cell phones, electronic devices, etc. against a checkered background painted with several layers of splashed paint, whose visual effect refers to the sunset. The plates represent the buildings of the cities and the geometry of the sky is based on the use I make of geometric divisions that make up my paintings and that is why I decided to name the series Walterian Sunset. Furthermore, the geometric division of the sky makes direct reference to the chromatic pixels of electronic images when magnified to the maximum. Therefore, the works in this series present a visual and metonymic correlation between the plates, the geometrization of the sky and the interpretation of the observers.

Another work called Virotic Space-Time was composed of several old electronic boards, cut by me to juxtapose each other, which had an urban sunset painted on them. Although painted in gradient, the atmosphere bands that darken by the approaching to the space were painted respecting the geometric shape of the plates. On these old plates, current electronic plates cut in a circular shape were placed and on the edge of them electronic components were applied that represent the spicules of the new coronavirus. Thus, these round plates visually correlate with the coronavirus taking over the planet, as inside them, the continents were painted in a positive and negative way. Even inside the plates cut in a circular shape, numbers were applied that refer us to the hours of the day and imply the time in which we live, but without determinism because there are no hands of this imaginary clock. In summary, the correlation between space and time occurs due to the imagery suggestions of the viral form and the notion of time induced by the numbers of an invisible clock.

During the pandemic, we watched the issue of global racism gain visibility through publications in the press and on social media about police violence. Faced with the popular demonstrations called “Black Lives Matter” that protested against racism, some people felt uncomfortable with this phrase and asked: Why say that since all lives matter? This question led to the work called Black Lives Matter, because in my view, although all lives are important, the lives of black people have been neglected by the social and economic systems in which dark-skinned people have always had to fight to have the same rights of fair-skinned people. That alone would be enough to say that black lives matter. If not, why do we struggle to gain freedom while living under dictatorships? If it weren't like that, why do we fight for fair social rights? If not, why would women fight for equal rights? If not, why does the LGBT community fight for equal rights? If it weren't like that, why do we fight against the injustices that are imposed on us? In this way, I felt the need to express myself through a work whose title uses and reinforces the importance of the phrase “Black Lives Matter”.

It remains to mention two works that I created during the pandemic, whose studies had been ready for some time, but I had not found the necessary time to finish them. Thus, there is nothing like paralyzing the prosaic tasks caused by insulation in order that they could be concluded. In this series that I called Human Dichotomies, I implemented a pictorial and philosophical proposal in which I approach the human potential to do beautiful or destructive things depending on the philosophical, social, financial, religious impetus, etc. I used three recent examples that instigated me to paint two pictures that represent the capacity for overcoming and human indifference. The first work presents the notorious rescue of Chilean miners. The second work deals with the consequences of the two ecological disasters caused in Mariana and Brumadinho, in the space of four years, by the negligence of a single company. The counterpoint between these two works lies in the fact that, when human beings want to, they dedicate themselves to something constructive and heroic, as was the case in Chile. However, what is usual is neglect, lack of planning and respect for human, animal and plant life and for the ecological environment, as occurred in the case of the two cities in Minas Gerais, Brazil. In other words, these two works gained a sense of relevance because they present different examples of the human dichotomy when I think that during the pandemic we live with absolute heroism, on the one hand, and with negligence and disrespect for life, on the other. Both left behind moments of joy and indelible wounds.

Finally, the support for all the works included in this exhibition varied from the traditional canvas, passing through wood, three-dimensional objects made with handmade paper manufactured by me and even printed circuit boards for computers and various electronic devices.

Materials used included meat grinders; computer boards; integrated electronic chips; electronic mini buttons tactile switches; mini led lamps; capacitors; resistors; various electronic components; photographic and scanner lenses; computer boards; printed circuit boards without integrated components; open hds; burette; wooden stumps; eyeglass lenses; glass and acrylic domes; acrylic plates; circuit boards for flash drives; parallel cables; mirror support; scanned images etc. Some of the boards were sawn and ground by me to obtain different shapes, including figurative ones, or were chosen due to their geometric shapes, but all of them had their colors studied to contrast with the background painted by me, visually complementing it.

As for artistic technique, I tried to create works that value design, shape, composition and color, however, transmitting my personal expression due to the combination of these technical concepts with the use of technological elements alien to the universe of traditional painting. Thus, I used oil painting to create textures and peculiar visual effects through color overlays in layers of splashed or wrinkled paint and expressionist or abstract brushstrokes that were applied both to the background and to the silhouettes of figures in high relief that, drawn in realistic style on cardboard, were cut and pasted in the works. The incorporation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional elements generated pictorial and visual geometric planes, as each of them is at a different distance from the viewer. This gave me the challenge of creating relationships and correspondences between the elements of each painting to obtain a plastic expression in which the structure of the composition worked in favor of the concept I wanted to express. The conjunction of human silhouettes with pictorial elements, in addition to elements produced by technology and nature, invite the spectator to walk with his eyes, and even with his touch, the surface of each work, instigating philosophical and pragmatic evaluations on the issue of the environment and man on the planet.

Thus, by using the traditional technique of oil painting with the incorporation of new material elements, I tried to focus on the use of new artistic and conceptual procedures referring to the technique and objectives of Contemporary Art.

I believe that these factors generate symbolic affinities that mutually value each other in works that try to rescue the “pleasure of reading a work of art”. I hope that, with each new observation, my work can reveal new details so that the spectator can make several readings of my Art.

In all, during the period of isolation, 67 works were created, 63 of which were presented in this exhibition as a result of my isolation, which I believe left a positive message and the feeling of a well spent time.


                                    Walter Miranda - December/2022


Walter Miranda
Ateliê Oficina FWM de Artes
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