Wagner Malta Tavares

Come With The Wind, Fernando Aq Mota

Text by Fernando AQ Mota




Once in every generation a hero comes along. Someone who has a significant influence on other people’s
ideas, transforms the environment and becomes a legend among society. Often though, heroes are the ones
who share their experiences in an inspiring way, even if just with a single person. These are the heroes that
truly make a difference, the ones whose legacy might not affect all of humanity, but have the power to change
a few human beings. In contemporary art, heroes can take many forms; Wagner Malta Tavares is an artist
constantly revealing the invisible aspects of which ordinary heroes are made nowadays.

The ability to make artworks using different media and still create a coherent body of work with one or more
solid messages or questions is quite rare. Wagner Malta Tavares is one of those singular artists whose
practices are harmoniously related, visually appealing and strongly efficient. From sculpture to video,
photograph to installation, passing through performance, his output is imaginative and full of sense of humor,
similar to Francis Alÿs. Tavares is very interested in mythology, literature and comic books/films; the way he
manages to link fiction with reality in his production is original and intriguing, and definitely one of his

Recently, the artist has made a series of works with one central element: the air. A video shows a house on a
cliff without windows and with five white curtains swaying in the doors. Abandonment? Emptiness? When a
door is closed, a window is opened...but what if there are no windows? In another work, a fan and a red
fluttering cloak resemble the tales of almighty characters. What are the solutions for mortals who cannot fly,
and which are the flags we chose to wave? Three photographs from different angles show a wooden chair left
on a beach, with a white sail attached to it. Every situation can be seen from various perspectives -- it is a
matter of turning the wheel around and exploring the possibilities. Some journeys can be deeply lonely and the
hope of better winds are always encouraging; it is always good to have a place to sit down when things get
monotonous though. With playful and lyric methods, Tavares subtly uncovers the identity of the contemporary
man: ambitious, yet melancholic. Willing to save the world, but barely able to rescue himself. In Brazil, these
verses especially apply to old habits of people: often complaining about the present, despite merely acting for
a greater future.

These are times of change; in economy, politics, culture...things are transforming into other figures as fast as a
flash. To stand still without knowing from where the wind will blow is a heroic act already. The ones who can
use these breezes as platforms from which to jump, are intelligently brave. Wagner Malta Tavares discreetly
points out the cave where the secrets are kept: our souls. Ironically, man’s most intimate place is the hardest
one to get to. How to reach it remains suspended in the air. For some, it comes as a gift from the Gods, while
for others, it might be an arduous conquest. Virgil once said “fortune favors the bold”; in the 21st century, the
bold are the ones who dare to dream, and luckily, make their own fortune.

In this exhibition, the public can see Wagner Malta Tavares in the essence of his work. The title Uma diversão,
um tormento, uma ocupação,
according to the curator, was taken from the book The Shadow Line by Joseph
Conrad - ‘It was amusement enough, torment enough, occupation enough’ - and it represents the artist’s
feelings throughout the process of making his art. The video is a compact pill of time, life and everything that
happens in between. The artist, the house, the curtains, the cliff... everything in scene flows in its own rhythm
with the wind. Perhaps, from another perspective, this could even be the house described by J. L. Borges in
the Aleph.