The Institute of Architects of Brazil exhibits the graphic work of Otávio Roth, an artist who turns texts – in English – about human rights into images.
Words about the right to live, to work and to freedom are engraved in linoleum, rising to the position of artistic elements. And the image of a letter engraved into the matrix, as representative of a phoneme, composes a plastic vocabulary that reinforces the significance of the written text on human rights.
The artist blends witten text into plastic text, building the metaphor of human rights into a series of colorful engravings endowed with extraordinary technical quality.
Images, like those of a house or a child, are included next to the words in the composition and take on the role of plastic allegory, no longer mere illustration. They complement the meaning of rights.
The engraver's achievement goes further. Written text inevitably calls for reasoning, making the reader think abstractly. Plastic text, sensorially apprehended through vision and touch, stimulates the viewer's sensibility. Thus, Otávio Roth raises his artistic discourse to its maximum potential, as the image of rights – stamped on the engraving – reaches the viewer's reasoning and emotion at the same time. The text on the right to work, for example, is represented by an image in the engraving and becomes a concrete right. Anything that can be seen through the eyes and touched with the hands ceases to be abstract; it exists in fact.
Not content with publicizing human rights, the young and vigorous engraver creates a calendar with poetic sentences by Chaplin, Chico Buarque, Victor Jara, St. Augustine, Tiago de Melo, Vladimir Herzog and other memorable Brazilians. This whole series of engravings depicts the symbol of man's hand printed over other symbols, such as chains, ropes, flowers, etc. These prints represent the image of tragedy fused with hope: they build an elegy of the present time. The paper used to print the calendar's engravings is manufactured by the artist himself from cotton fibers. The image of suffering could only be stamped on crushed paper, washed and built by the engraver – who, by doing that, incorporates the feelings of others into his own.
The calendar prints are reproduced in smaller size and used by the artist to assemble a portable Calendar Object that can be either be hanged on the wall or left standing on a flat surface
Otávio Roth's critical level reaches new heights with his portable calendar: each leaf has the days marked by unforgettable images; with them, the 80's decade flourishes, the artist's message seems to be saying.
Radha Abramo, "Quando a palavra cresce em relevo", "Folha de S.Paulo", Ilustrada, p. 25, São Paulo/SP (Monday, December 10, 1979).