There was a mutt on the sidewalk, with its muzzle rammed into the narrow gate of a house. Inside, another dog offered its behind to be licked, positioning itself in reverse gear between the spans of the gate bars. Knowing nothing about dogs, I learned something on that street that day: dogs lick each other’s assholes. Not poodles or Yorkshires - these no longer smell animal odor; to them odor is soap, they’ve lost their animality, being easily distracted by dog goodies when they threaten the norms of decency. The mutts are probably the only ones to still practice this act of intimacy, which in some way was saving that dog trapped behind bars. An animal liberation.
Camila Soato looks for the animal inside the man, in praise of the Mutt. The girl removes her panties from her crotch, the child licks the paw of the animal, a figure holds a devil trident, another has a donkey head, one dog over another, a police car circulates indifferently, the paint drips, the artist’s finger is cleaned on the canvas itself.
Here neither Bataille nor Sade can elevate the writing. The wording describing those beige and dirty canvases is low, coming from the lower parts of speech, and is accompanied by the sounds coming out of those open mouths of the characters from the paintings, laughing at the critique and at the scholar, defying them not to use the word asshole, mocking any euphemism, devils with tridents removing the decency from the craft of criticism, the devilish painting puts vertical bars in the composition, just like those enclosing the dog on the street where I was.
No figure is lost in the beige dirt, as these scenes are not in the pure uncivilized chaos. They have design and composition, they are underpinned by the clarity of the vertical lines and of the bars, which give form to that which otherwise would be immediately repulsive. Organizing the scene, working as contours for each dog, the vertical lines allow the eye to scrutinize every lick, every lowered pair of pants. They are practically attractive, decorative stripes. Apollo at the service of Dionysus.
Lacking concepts previously invented throughout the history of art that could be applied to these paintings, the artist herself suggested the term “cheap”: that which is vulgar and unsophisticated, acting as links between childhood memories, current experiences and theoretical readings. Cheapness which acts on the artist, on the viewer, on the critic. We are united by the cheap element, by the mutt animality, which is authenticity, an uncivilized spontaneity in unbearable doses portrayed Camila Soato’s paintings. Thick paint. Thick bill. Secreting surface. Here, brush and spatula are not cleaned, everything is in the linen, clotted in a spot which - if it were a wound - would be right on top of good manners, infecting them. Until we stop playing poodles, until we stop going to the pet shop, until we suspend the soap. A wound healed but with a laugh.
And the dog licks, and looks at me with that humble look, harmless, as if unsuspecting that it has just complicated everything. It has complicated history, civilization, it has scoffed painting since the Renaissance, it has laughed at scholarship, at the gala evening, at the vernissage, it has put a french-fry hat on the head of the Catholic Church, it has made animals of different species copulate. It has cleaned 500 years of dirty brushes on the canvas.
Paula Braga, 2014.