From Z. L. Darocha’s exhibition at Clube Opinião, organized by Ernesto de Sousa in 1975. Courtesy Isabel Alves

Galerie WYSIWAI (‘wiz-ee-why) is a twofold artwork and structure dedicated to disseminate and create new conversation around the practice of the Swiss-Portuguese artist Z.L. Darocha (1945-2016). A variation from the original WYSIWAG (What You See Is What You Get), WYSIWAI (What You See Is What Art Is) is an acronym created and used by Darocha as one of the many offices, workshops and identities with which he framed his work. In its inaugural moment, we have the pleasure to present the solo installation My Heart Rendez-vous, created by Portuguese artist – and galerie founder - Diogo Pinto (b. 1993).

For 45 years, Darocha walked the streets in search of folds. In a quotidian archaeological effort, he would find, collect and preserve folded pieces of paper from places all over the world. He marked each paper fold with the date and location where it was discovered before storing them - creating an archive of pliages (folds) that
spanned over a thousand entries. Some are shaped like airplanes, others like boats, some contain printed or written text, others drawing and doodles, and although they are all truly unique, they carry a communal and auto-biographical significance. Like Darocha wrote for the exhibition catalogue of his solo exhibition Plein et Pelié (Galerie Entre, 1974): “(…) any small paper boat can represent me, or can be the symbol of another individual… I am always another individual, I am all the small boats that are made at all times, all those who make them, all the places where they have passed, all the times of their existence, etc.(…)”.

Darocha added pliages that he fabricated himself to the collection, thus expanding the dense array of symbols and signs that the work presented. In fact, the long and rich career of Darocha was like “a room of distorted mirrors”. He signed his work with many different names (too many to name), each projecting a mise-en-abîme of styles and identities. Ultimately, the gesture of folding paper was not only a constant in Darocha’s 50 year output but is in itself a metaphor to the many layers of his heterogeneous practice and his “passionate horror of boredom”.

He was one of the artists showing his work in Art 6’75 (1975’s edition of ArtBasel) at Parisian Galerie Entre’s booth – a radical project-space founded by artists Catherine and Jacques Pineau. In Basel, at this event, Z.L. met his future wife, Claudia Rochas-Pàris. This meeting (art fair love-story) is at the core of My Heart Rendez-vous, for which Diogo Pinto created a new 3 x 4,80m painting, fitted to the dimensions of a standard art fair gallery booth, depicting the installation of his own 11 pliages — each one representing key moments of Darocha’s practice and the events that surrounded it. Among the resources used for his own foldings, you will find Galerie Entre’s invitation card for Art 6’75; pictures he posted in his Facebook page of the bouquet of flowers he offered Claudia every week; and spreads of the 1979 artist’s edition “Pliages; Collection + a brief essay”. Like Darocha, Diogo collected source material, later folding, scanning and reproducing it — presenting it now in the context and location where Darocha and Claudia’s meeting took place 46 years ago.

My Heart Rendez-Vouz, Pliages (1974-2016, 2021, oil and acrylic on canvas, 300 x 480 cm (composed of 3 paintings with 300 x 160 cm each)

Diogo Pinto, “Galery sign”, 2021, oil on canvas, 31 x 42 cm (3 parts with 31 x 14 cm each)

Kiefer Hablitzel Göhner Prize

Basel, 2021

A special thank you to Claudia Rochas-Pàris, Lia Rochas-Pàris, Catherine Pineau, Joana de Bastos Rodrigues, Isabel Alves, Filipe Darocha and Mariana Tilly