A working station stays under the window and another is found opposite to it. All the walls are filled with shelves completely full with all of his works and raw materials: many volumes of encyclopedias and old books, papers with letters, set-squares, sliced pieces of paper any many other gadgets which only Mlászho would know what they are or will be for. It’s a particular place that fits precisely in the artist’s private logic and has a lot to do with his work.
Odires at his studio in São Paulo
Mlászho is an artist of transformation. Not simple decontextualization of objects but actually deep transformation of images, words and objects. Intimately connected to the worlds of photography, literature and poetry, his creations are something else - they expand our limited categorizational habits, destroy, transform and make forgotten images, books, pictures and typography gain a new life from a completely different perspective. One could say Mlászho is also an inventor - each new series come with a new technique: in every work he creates a different way of transforming raw material, from cutting techniques to the so called exfoliation of images.
Odires Mlászho‘s name is the first sign of his transformational character: born José Odires Micowski, when he started working as an artist, he decided to merge the name of two of his influences, Max Ernst and László Moholy-Nagy, into a new family name: Mlászho.
It is evident that Mlászho never sees the things the way they appear to be. In our conversation, I could notice a very sharp look that seemed rather to see things as what they could become than as what they are. And he liberates these potential new aspects in the most creative ways.
Mlászho initiated his path in the contemporary art field through literature. He wanted to be a poet, and his first pieces were poems - however, as one could predict, these were not regular pieces, but what he calls “elastic poems” with invented words that, when read aloud sounded almost like a mantra. The dense poems were visually combined with 32 small roles through the whole book, symbolising time - 32 was his age when he made the book.
Deconstruction of texts stills appears in many of his other works, such as the series Sopa Nômade (Nomad Soup), presented in the 30th Bienal de São Paulo (2012). At these pieces, Mlászho uses Letraset sheets to create texts with broken letters. The fragments of letters in the end become drawings. He uses semantical elements to create beautiful visual pieces with no semantical content, subverting the function of a letter.
A "Sopa Nômade" being created
In a more antique series, Serpentinas (Serpentines), Odires sliced known images with just one long spiral cut, changing its figure, deconstructing faces, bringing volume to a 2D image and expanding the concept of photography.
In Tempestades (Storms), Mlászho interferes on images using one of his invented techniques - the image exfoliation, where he rips of thin layers of book images with adhesive tape and then overlaps the original or interfere in another image. He photographs the result and print in large scale, creating a totally new altered image.
Serpentina (left) and Tempestades (right)
For the 55th Venice Biennale, among the selected series it was Butchers - Mestres, açogueiros e seus aprendizes (Butchers - masters, butchers and their apprentices) a series in which images of parts of the male body cut off from porno magazines are pasted together composing a new image, that seems almost like a painting: a deconstruction and recomposition of the male body. Other chosen series were the altered books such as Deutscher Wörter Buch or Martindale-Hubbell / International Law Directory in which Mlászho manipulates the books subtracting its function of being readable and transforming them in sculptures.
In Odires Mlászho’s work, objects are photos, texts are images, books are sculptures: nothing occupies its original place in the world. With his work the artist proves that things are not such as defined in the way we tend to believe and that after destruction objects can be re-created and reused in a total different way. His work offers us the possibility of entering a world with a completely new kind of perception: it is our world, all the original elements are there, but this world is truly and deeply transformed.
Since the recording of our interview at the studio visit was sadly lost due to technical issues, I end this post with a quote from the artist, that I consider essential to understand the nature of his work:
“I work with images that are lost, they have been disconnected for unknown reasons. These prom photos, old families albums, antique books, they all had a body that took care of them, an afetuous bond to the world. I’m interested in the moment this is broken, because this objects end up in the most weird places. My intervention is to adopt them and use them. However, in trade, there’s one condition: I want their soul. It’s a perverse game. My interest is to put in this work that was abandoned, forgotten, an energy that is able to make them circulate again, but now with a new appeal, a new language. They would be frozen in time, moldering somewhere, but I give my time back to them, I grant their comeback in a new trajectory. I throw them back in society in form of art.”
More about Odires Mlászho at the Brazilian Pavillion at the 55th Venice Biennial http://www.55bienalveneza.org.br