TRAVASSOS // Life is a Simple Mess (Book + CD)


Artworks by Travassos
Text by Nate Woley

64 PG + CD

1. Pão – 021
2. Big Bold Back Bone – Mergulhador
3. IFF + Travassos – June
4. Flu – Fluke
5. Pão – Climb all The Way Down
6. Pinkdraft – Luminous Vacuum
7. One Eye Project – Mel


Life is a Simple Mess presents us with an imaginary journey divided into three stages: “Life is Simple”, “Life is a Mess” and “Mish-Mash” where simple and complex forms co-exist in a natural and complementary way. Along the way the texts of Nate Wooley are giving clues and revelations for a possible interpretation of this symbiotic scenario of the real-unreal.

If a suggestion may be offered-use the work in these pages as many chances to live between the extremes: within the Mish-Mash. Do not allow the seeming precariousness of all the balanced elements hold you back. It is the combination of subtle, profane, mundane, irrational, and sympathetic in these images that represents the real life “glue” through which we hold ourselves together. We can appreciate the purely simple and the purely complex, but we absolutely must live and hear and see in the wonderful combination of its combinations. That’s where we learn to be human. Luckily, an artist like Travassos provides us with all we need to begin.” Nate Wooley

Can illustrations or graphics survive to the context for which they were created for? Yes, they can, as it is a wonderful example the book “Life is a Simple Mess”, by Travassos. What we can see in these pages was originally destined by its author for record covers released by the labels Clean Feed, Shhpuma, Sunnyside and Why Play Jazz or for the promotion of the music festival Rescaldo, of which he is the programmer, but here it all gains a second existence. Without the name of a musician or a group, without a title and without the logo of a discographic company on a specific album, each piece shows itself without the rationalizing caution of an imagetic translation of the impressions provoked by music. It’s like if the images free themselves not only from its purpose but also its cause, eventually finding in its inner force their justification and their significance, even considering the inherent undefinition in the effort not to determine our individual interpretations.

Travassos’ world sums – and usually on the same visual composition – elements from several sources. One of them is a reiterated naturalist perspective, with flowers and birds protagonizing a number of visions which transforms our reality in an alien fantasy, and that simply because the act of representation always result in a recriation (a modification) of the original. Another one offers us an understanding of the human figure owing everything to comics, and prefering a pop iconography to the centuries of Beaux-Arts’ body stylizations, though treated with a formal essentialism that plays with familiarity (a house is a house is a house) and not with strangeness, in a sort of minimalist conversion of surrealism.

Music doesn’t disappear completely from this visionaryism turned autonomous. The texts on the book never refer to it, but they were written by a musician, the trumpeter and free improviser Nate Wooley, and the invitation given to him says much about it. The publication is also complemented by music on CD, with a compilation of tracks, the most part of them unreleased, of bands having Travassos as a member in his parallel activity as sound artist, like Pão, Big Bold Back Bone and Pinkdraft. In consequence, “Life is a Simple Mess” leaves music to return to it. In the middle of that journey, the also manipulator of electronic audio devices finds his full identity as visual artist, a necessary condition to relate himself less obviously, less literally, with music. And that’s very, very interesting.

This edition is a partnership between Chili Com Carne & Shhpuma