Carlos Zilio (1944 - )

794AO/94-10 (da série 794AO) (1994)
794AO/94-10 (from the series 794AO)

Oil on canvas
height: 40cm
width: 57cm

Donated by Paul Terra Neale 1995


One has to speak in the plural when dealing with Zilio's recent work; each canvas is a part of a larger group. The repetition, in other works, of the central element seen in this painting is a key for understanding the artist's overall project. The structural frame - the grid-fragment - that dominates this composition acts as an element in the artist's dialogue with history, which is informed by his admiration of Barnet Newman, Noland, and Stella. It also hints at the constructivist tradition in art, suggesting that the artist is aware of the particular history to which he belongs and/or from which he has emerged.

Carlos Zilio's painting is paradoxical; while it is concerned exclusively with the activity of painting, it cannot rid itself entirely from that which is exterior to the medium, namely the artist's own past. It is in fact this paradox that makes Zilio's project viable and that allows him, as Yves-Alain Bois has put it, to ask the modest yet ambitious question of whether one can still paint today.

Zilio's presence within the work exists not as one might traditionally imagine. It is not the romantic struggle of the artist producing work despite all else, nor is it a question of the modern unrecognised genius, although there is an element of heroism in Zilio's modesty. Zilio's trajectory is one of abandonment and reconciliation. It is an example of the rebellion and certitude of youth being replaced by the perseverance and pragmatism of the mature man. But there is also pleasure in this mature approach. In fact, Zilio attempts to recover the pleasure of mark making, of the gestural character of painting while maintaining the method, the rigor, akin to the modern painterly traditions.

Michael Asbury, 2008

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