After all, is the artist a privileged being who creates inspired by the gods, or a simple worker, almost a craftsman, who submits humbly to his task? This question is as old as any other reflection on art, and even today no definitive answer has been found. When we think of Jackson Pollock, for example – the American creator of action-painting, with paint thrown at random on the canvas spread on the floor –, creation is a frenetic exorcism. Yet when we think of Volpi, living in Franciscan sobriety in his little house in the Cambuci neighborhood of São Paulo, the act of painting becomes a patient and gentle alchemy.
All this is said to try to adequately frame the work of young artist Otávio Roth. As he himself subtitles his exhibition: "Artisanal process as a language." In other words, his goal is the have the act of doing, by itself, generate works with a meaning. Or rather: be the meaning. While fabricating papers using rudimentary processes, Roth incorporates pigments, foreign substances and varied materials into them to create patterns, textures, even special formats. His is not a plastic concern, in the traditional sense of producing beautiful surfaces. Nevertheless, those eventually appear and resemble effects previously attained by other artists, with subtle hints of Paul Klee. The crucial difference, it must be repeated, lies not in the result, but in the process – to the point of there not being, in this assemblage of works, a great concern with unity.
But let's get back to the starting point. Deliberately, Otávio Roth stood on the side of the craftsman-artist, à la Volpi, rather than the inspired artist, like Pollock. One can even say that, in principle, this is the wisest option. But, at the same time, it is worth asking if in fact Roth has already managed to raise himself to the level of a language. What is meant by this, of course, is an articulated system capable of conveying information. Roth's language is still limited by his honeymoon with grammar. And by not yet having been able to incorporate an element of transcendence – let us say, even of inspiration – into his universe. Because, in reality, great art does not spring only from one pole or the other – granted, it comes from effort, it is jewel-making and handicraft, but always at the service of an inner demon.
Olívio Tavares Araújo, Ainda o artesão ou já o artista?, "IstoÉ" (August 4, 1982)