Press Release of the Exhibition
“Today, I limited myself to a single, wide and long red brushstroke. A workload only akin to the twelve Labors of Hercules. These brushstrokes bring to mind big ships with excess weight at the bow, risking sinking as soon as they set sail but finally managing to go their way.” I wrote these lines in a recent (and lengthier) email to a friend of mine, telling him about what I was doing. If I start by quoting my own words it is because they accurately describe the way I’m now working.
Each one of these brushstrokes arises from a particular place, different from all others, and the dimension they acquire essentially depends on the ballast of pigment and oil they carry within. Black is important because it behaves as a catalyst; for example, as it tangentially approaches a red, it intensifies it, rendering it redder. This red – I could have used any other color in this example – is more intense at its center and diffuse at its margins, almost forming a halo. Apparently immobile, these colors fluctuate and never really touch each other, even when they overlap.
Color and brushstroke are a single entity, inextricable. As such, there is time and duration, beginning and end. It is between these two points, and in a scale ranging from disaster to epiphany, that everything is played out.
Colors are served in tubes we can buy at the store. We open one of these tubes and become ecstatic with what we see. Only later we understand that colors are like sharp ramparts, so closed in upon themselves that they can only be taken by storm, and with immense effort. We don’t even have exact names for them; despite the fact that they’re always so impeccably labeled. Having one color, we just need to change its place so that it’s no longer the same. Colors communicate between them in an indecipherable code, impervious to the most powerful algorithm. They are as slippery as eels, and sting like urchins. We’ll never discover the Rosetta Stone of colors.
JOSÉ LOUREIRO was born in Mangualde in 1961.
Lives and works in Lisbon.
He identifies two pieces of reading as representing formative moments in his artistic development: the poem Deslumbramentos (Fascinations) from O Livro de Cesário Verde, by Cesário Verde; and the chapter from War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy, in which the battle of Borodino is narrated. At the moment, all his life revolves around three words: priolo, filament and rim.
The artist is represented in several public and private collections as Fundação de Serralves, Oporto, Portugal; Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigão – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal; Colecção Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Lisbon, Portugal; Colecção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal; Colecção António Cachola, Elvas, Portugal; Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Funchal, Madeira, Portugal; Fundação Leal Rios, Lisbon, Portugal; Centre Pompidou - Museu Nacional de Arte Moderna, France; Fundação de Arte Contemporânea Daniel & Florence Guerlain, Les Mesnuls, France; European Investment Bank, Luxembourg; European Patent Office, Munich, Germany; European Central Bank, Frankfurt, Germany; Hiscox, London, UK.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Apr 27th > Mai 22nd 2010
“Luísa was wearing a blue woollen dress, wich dragged a little, gratting a melodious undulation to her steps, and her little hands were hidden in a white muffler. (...) They took a few steps outside in the street. A broad sun cast light over the happy genius: the carriages passed by, giving out the cracks of whips: smilling figures went by, in conversation: the street vendors hailed their happy cries: a gentleman in buckskin trousers trotted his rosette-adorned horse; and the street was full, noisy, alive happy and covered in sun.”1
Peculiarities of a Girl Called Painting
Despite the title of this text, anyone expecting to find any narrative other than that of painting itself in José Loureiro’s works will be disappointed. If there is any story here it comes from the vocabulary proper to pictorial language, being woven among circles, squares, lines and rectangles. Programmes of intent, projects and little stories have never been a part of Loureiro’s desire or thought. This exhibition is no exception.
The Bullfinch (Priolo) that provides the title for one of his paintings (something which is rare in Loureiro’s work) is not a reference to the Azores Bullfinch, an endangered species that exists on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores. We might think about a vague association with the ideia of painting being itself almost extinct. But if we do so we will be increasingly further away from the truth of the facts. Here the painting is of today and could not be more alive and in keeping with that we call contemporary.
The Azores Bullfinch is a being that is characterized by being known from afar due to is characteristic song. Once again, we can only vaguely associate this with these paintings. José Loureiro’s works possess the strenght of a special vibration that makes us move away and then close in on them, being easily recognised at a distance, and with some meaning being granted to their association with music. His canvases have the character of a vibration screen that wishes to annul the separation that exists between pictorial representation and reality itself, which is shown through the diffuse aspect of the outlines. An invasion of life on the canvas and of the canvas on life, also showing that rigidity might be something light and airy. So things become ghosts within the form itself. This idea of the screen, something which has been a concern of Gilles Lipovetsky’s in order to characterise current society, is not new in Loureiro. Since the nineties many of his series of paintings have directly referred to screens, printings, projections, reproduction and digital effects.
The shimmering quality of the level of the canvas also brings a different type of associations with it. It calls up the new technologies, such as those on the TV screen, or, as in the work Priolo, vaguely a fluorescent lamp. In this sense José Loureiro’s painting lives of a search for tensions, in which the most visible and irreducible one would be that between surface and depth. His work, like life, lives off these oppositions.
The untitled canvases present at this exhibition have another vague similarity with the bullfinch that has a strong, black beak and grey body and black tail. José Loureiro’s rectangles also deal with black and grey. Yet the issue of colours is only a game fitting the dynamics of pictorial representation. The intention should always be that of diverting the
event of the canvas from being boringly predictable, as if the painting were a living organism with which the painter establishes a dialogue, in an endless (and often useless) struggle towards control over the strenght of the sensation contained in the canvas. This obsessive research into the same motif, in a candence of repetition and difference, is a part of the essential nature of painting, of its mania . But then again it is part of l i fe as well.
As a conclusion, the only narrative that the observer may find is that which we quote at the beginning of this text. All the rest lives off this lack of a referential anchoring. Even so, José Loureiro shows us, through the force of the feeling of the forms of a World of the Nohing Freed (as José Gil states in relation to Malevich), allowing each of us to place all our free interpretations within it. Perhaps this is the contemplative freedom that is truly endangered, in a world of messages that communicate and command our thoughts. So we should do what ornithologists do, and devote ourselves to long, lengthy contemplations of the species, enjoying the pleasure of the peculiarities of a history that belongs to life in its most essential sense, in the purity of its economy of means.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1Translated from Singularidades de Uma Rapariga Loura in Obras de Eça de Queiróz - Contos, 20th edition, Livros do Brasil, Lisbon, undated - pp. 30/34.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Mar 2nd > 31st 2007
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to announce an exhibition of new work by José Loureiro. For this solo exhibition at the Gallery, the artist will be exhibiting nine new paintings.
For more than a decade, José Loureiro has given preference to the pursuit of a rigorous pictorial strategy, which modifies the aesthetic of pure form, in this instance of the grid, with an element of imprecision and uncertainty, a hesitancy or reverberation of the line, which appears blurred, fuzzy, somehow unfinished or flawed, disappearing or receding, or ghostly emerging, depending on one’s perspective. This indefiniteness, this optical scintillation provided by the artist’s loose touch, charges the painting with an emotion and an engaging painterly energy.
Loureiro occupies himself intensely with the material substratum of the picture – the impressive range of greys in these new works, the paint surface, forms and general structure of the grid do not sit tightly, stably composed according to hierarchy, but are rather animated, disruptive and spreading. In this exhibition, the artist has also strived to provide his viewers with large canvases, which are devoid of any single, prime vantage point, hinting to expansion out of the frame. The sheer size of some of these works, their monumentality, makes the relationship between the painting and the viewer one that is highly enveloping, experiential and rewarding. ND
Press Release of the Exhibition
Free of any detailed judgement concerning the ensemble that comprises this exhibition, one of the most ornate aesthetic features achieved by José Loureiro rests in THE DOUBLED WORK OF PAINTING IN EACH CANVAS.
According to Loureiro’s procedure, each canvas seemingly unfolds into two simultaneous paintings, forming a final unit within this astounding set of work. Otherwise said:
Behind the painted figurative presences lies another «painting», in an elaborate abstract construction where firm and transfigured remittances float, from more central impressionist chromaticity to the colourist iridescence of Matisse. All the delicacy and discreet tension, with other more remote traditions in art, for instance, the almost dazzling abstraction of some late-medieval and mannerist works, irrupt through his highly elaborate polychrome backgrounds.
The other «painting» is a figuration that can be classified as rampantly joyous. Objects of what could have once been a cold world (besides their euphoric trepidation, these objects remain indifferent), human figures delivered to physical copiousness, oscillation and dance, through vibrant incandescence, transport the beholder to a world of figurative bewilderment. Learned in overriding figuration, yet wandering through the fixed axes of references to the real, ensured by the clear outlines of the images as they are first perceived, Loureiro produces a renewal of the pictorial line, which for many decades remained to be seen in Portuguese art.
The canvas affirms itself as a dialogue between these two designations. From an intimate accomplishment, achieved with vigorously clear lines and nuances of subtle seduction, a singular work is rendered when viewed within this ensemble. Beyond the Portuguese arts context, including the one established by a mafia at the backdrop of doubtful internationalisations, Loureiro’s comparative resistance can easily be observed.
Indeed, Loureiro’s work is a gift that, if efficiently recognised, could aid a cultural context of inept promotions (which die out without ever having understood many greats, choosing to overrate the movers of a sordid and unashamedly meddling terrain of festivities, calculated by partisanships), sociologically demonstrating that the art world is capable of understanding the results of overcoming what was once new within the central spaces of current pictorial production. If this cultural context is unable to undertake this change with its licensed agents and their unethical shove, then let the public and individual connoisseurs undertake this move by letting them in to see, in their modifying assurance as true experts, unaffected by the pressures of the establishment and routines of acceptance.