One of the plastic artists that has worked the most in its generation, using multiple languages and media, Thiago Cóstackz once again held an individual exhibition in São Paulo in June of 2017. After his last project of great breath and extension, “SOS Terra – Artistic-scientific expedition to 10 places threatened of the planet” (2014), Cóstackz created the multimedia exhibition “The bird of fire”, gathering 40 works, among paintings, sculptures , body art photographs, performances, records of large urban interventions and music.
“The Firebird” is a legend that, with many variations, is present in diverse peoples and cultures, from the Greeks, Vikings, Slavs to the Northeastern and Yanomami Indians in Brazil. Cóstackz appropriates this mythological universe to create the works that connect to the relationship between men and birds over time, from the ancient dream of flying to the extinction of countless species in the last centuries, passing through the relation with the cities and arriving at parallels with the spatial colonization.
The Wild Way
At first it was a dream. And as the researches of Carl Jung and the texts of Joseph Campbell indicate, our imagination, our deep curiosities, and the mother of our dreams are the mixture of myths so ancient, often unknown, that when we are placed before the Cyclopes, the crows of Odin and the cosmogonies that we do not even know are placed before the mirror. Sometimes what we see causes us charm, sometimes fear. Then do as Magenta, from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and cry, “Oh, fancy, set me free” if you dare.
This is the Firebird by Thiago Cóstackz, one of the most imaginative, restless, engaging and provocative contemporary artists of the moment. Chameleon like David Bowie and ironic as ABBA, B-52’s and Rita Lee. Here he recreates and expands the magic variables of the myth of the fire bird and exposes it, pulsing and alive before your eyes, inviting you to board the neon of your wings . Its infinite possibilities inhabit the walls of this multimedia exhibition, from the mythological ones (be embedded in the Siberian shamanism – source of the Native American cultures, present here also – be it in the gods and immemorial symbols), through the amazing ballet of Igor Stravinsky, to living spaceships that would make Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan vibrate in unison. And what does the Bird of Fire here ask of you? That plug your most intimate and individual truth into some of your golden feathers.
Thiago Cóstackz, with each new project, impresses by the number of supports that are used. This is no different here. The Bird of Fire is his closest work to the idea of ”total work of art” (Gesamtkunstwerk) in writing lyrics he creates for the duo he and the Icelandic musician Hjörvar Hjörleifsson, with whom he composed the songs – and create clip to complete the multimedia exposure. Cóstackz’s paintings and body arts construct psychedelic, surreal, critical, and vibrant narratives. His sculptures continue the technique of Lucca and Andrea Della Robbia by subverting it by approaching it with old tribal totems, elements of nature, symbols incorporated into mass culture and new exotic figures close to science fiction. The songs summon the action and create images, challenge those who read their lyrics and allow themselves to be seduced by their sound. The scripted clips, directed and interpreted by Thiago Cóstackz, unite their experience as a plastic artist and environmentalist to the immemorial mythological universe that they learned from their ancestors and that they learned from their ancestors from their Amerindian, Eurasian and African origins. The book, in short, joins poetry rich in images to photos whose sequence creates a narrative cohesion. The Firebird is your most personal exposure. The artist is full here.
For being a multimedia artist and conceptual, Cóstackz does not get stuck to a single support. It is the concepts and philosophies that make you choose the structure. An example is his body arts, in which he uses his own body as a raw material, as an accessory to Art, and not as something to hide. The body in Cóstackz’s body arts is an instrument to break the conservatism of form, content and mainly customs. The exhibition The Bird of Fire is multifaceted as the bird in the body art Black Dancing. Each one of its supports is realized using the technologies of more recent and ecologically conscious materials associated with re-readings of artistic techniques, like Renaissance aesthetics, and its conceptual construction is immersed in Humanism. The result is a work attentive to the big themes, sarcastic, dense and deep, now in the service of the macabre, now beauty. It is not by chance that Thiago Cóstackz always mentions the one whom Plato calls the tenth muse, Sappho of Lesbos, and one of his most celebrated phrases: “I serve beauty and know nothing greater.”
Each character, plant, UFO, egg, the building of each of its cities passes some message and plays an aesthetic and narrative role in which the Beautiful is redefined and rediscovered in defiance of those who oppose life, the new, the elevation of evolution . Cóstáckz reaffirms with his work the fact that pop art involves constant reflection. All the birds of fire, from the flying saucers to the mythological birds, leave together their starry hiding places, now accomplices, now enemies, all fused in a great flight from the egg.
Another feature of pop art is that, no matter what language or media, it does not bow to sacred cows, nor does it force itself to renounce them. She drinks from her teats and transubstantiates her milk into something unexpected. Cóstackz plays with the divine reconstructing icons of the past, does not yield to the traditional imagery symbols, nor lends itself to any compromise with banal. He elaborates a unique whole that starts from his personal mythology and his references. In addition to the ancestral stories he has heard, his art is influenced by his research in the field of sciences, especially astrophysics and exobiology. As an artist she is also engaged in constant and thorough research of materials, from Covent Garden shops in London to the Brás (central region of Sao Paulo) garbage dumps.
Through his work, and in this particular exposition, he gives the sacrificial vessels a high-speed connection with the signs of immediate communication without stumbling in the obvious. Bebe in the confrontation of rock, in the humanistic questions, in the criticality of the literature of authors like Franz Kafka, in the calculated confusion of Bosch and Bruegel, celebrates the gold of Gustave Klimt. It transforms old myths and icons, added to new perceptions, in a pictorial card that attracts the curiosity of the stories told around the bonfires – origin of all that we dream.
Thiago Cóstackz unites painting, collage and visual narrative techniques in his paintings and body arts, revises the tonal perspective, challenges logic as much as possible and constructs images with mathematical precision to the point that many of his paintings can be divided in half, thus having two complete, harmonic, similar, if not equal, pieces. Costackz puts himself all the time in the quest for mathematical symmetry almost obsessively. This is the result of years of study, experimentation and the pioneering spirit that makes us all advance. Each line, each repetition of layer is studied in favor of the aesthetic allied to the concept, without unnecessary didatismos or hermetic academicisms.
Your cities are part of the environment and not part of it. The events inserted in them add awe and charm. Tent space, whether in pictures, photos or clips, deepens all the sovereign mystery of native nature that inspires shamanic truths, unifying mothers of all peoples of the earth, and carry those who allow themselves to be in contact with this environment. Cóstackz glorifies the unexpected with success and fills him with content.
Just as Roy Lichtenstein gave, with the quality of his work associated with the possibilities of pop culture of his time, to the aesthetics of comics the force worthy of the art exhibitions, Thiago Cóstackz takes a new step in the graphic universe next to names like of Moebius and adds the perspective of the plastic arts to the great causes, pop and ancestral archetypes that reverberate today. Each piece of yours is like one of the profane cows sung by Gal Costa putting his horns out and above the herd. Something of himself, as the song says, is very respectful of his tears and even more his laughter. It is vivid pulsing art before your eyes.
Since we have recorded the visual arts and narratives, it is perceived that the broader the artist’s worldview and its ability to unite elements that make it up, the more surprising is the result (at the time of its creation and for generations to come). From the rock paintings to the Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis, amplitude and fusion, together, yield the best creative results. There are at least two examples of this in this multimedia exhibition.
First, the look at diverse cultures, starting with the natives. By transforming the Indian universe into totems and porcelain sculptures, he found a path of sophistication for the survival of cultures that come before the eyes. The indigenous culture here is not approached in a secluded way, but united to the whole. The indigenista universe has an archetypal richness and a glamor still little used in Brazil. The exhibition The Bird of Fire helps to bridge this gap and shows its links to other universes, such as the Nordic and primitive peoples of Siberia. It achieves this by the sensitivity of realizing that we are in the myths and the myths are in each of us. Brazil is one of the rare places that can unite many archetypal realities in a single individual. This can be seen here. Rarely, however, are indigenous mythologies contemplated in Brazilian books and exhibitions. This absence does not occur in The Firebird, quite the opposite.
At first it was a dream. A dream with two birds killed in battle that gave birth to a creative universe as new and advanced as an ancestor that, despite the immensity of references, never goes backwards, always ahead, that does not conform to established reality or comfort personal successes of the past. It uses one of the most precious existential foundations of art: to provoke, to instigate.
Curatorial text: Anttonio Amedo