The Napkin Party
Dates: 01/09 – 07/10/2018
Artists: Gabriel Giucci
Organization: Gabriela Davies
Location: Galeria Aymoré – Claraboia
Gabriel Giucci – The Napkin Party
“The Napkin Party”, as the event is known today, happened in 2009. It became public knowledge in 2012, when the photos taken at the event were published. Those who do not remember the nickname given to this “Parisian party”, must still remember the images and reports made by the media at the time. After all, the event was covered by the press so voraciously, that not even the least informed was able to avoid it. Three of the images taken on that day became the basis of the compulsive work of Gabriel Giucci, which made him produce more than one hundred works on the topic.
The drunken smiles stamped on well-known photos were replicated in small formats using oil paint, making individual cut-outs of each personality. The obsession of the artist with the images made him multiply tirelessly the portraits of those involved.
There are many versions of each portrait. They are intermingled without linearity of assembly and the images are moving in an irrational way, as in a real spree. The identities of these characters, which are so startling at the beginning, are gradually getting lost in the drunkenness of composition. We no longer recognize who is who; all become alike in a state that conveys both ecstasy and lack of rhetoric.
The paintings specifically focus on the facial expressions, which in some cases incorporate the napkin as part of the features. Caricatures of smiles – with eyes bulging or shut from so much laughter – resemble the expressions of the little pictograms we find today in our daily virtual conversations: emojis and emoticons. Each represent an expression, a feeling, that mixes joie de vivre with opulence, ostentation and debauchery.
If we had to mark the most blatant moments of our country’s recent history, no doubt the Napkin Party would be on the list. One of the most luxurious parties ever seen, was produced using the best European wines, the red sole shoes, tailor-made suits – all items with exorbitant prices. The guests drank, danced and celebrated through the night not worrying about festive moments being recorded with cell phone cameras. These images were eventually published on political websites and all the major news outlets in Brazil.
Giucci describes all these excesses, ecstasy and exaggeration through his treatment of the images. The more aligned compositions, where a veil of black and red paint conceals or softens the happiness of faces, provides an opportunity for greater contemplation of the topic. The debate is not to judge participants misconduct in their political lives – after all, we have all created our own verdicts.
Giucci treats the event as a historical landmark: the height of the government, which from that day on went into great decline. It collapsed. His work is an ironic celebration of ruin – a grand moment celebrated after its fall and degradation. The irony lies in the eventuality that these names became irrelevant and depredated. The smiles ceased to make sense for reasons we know today.