Press Release of the Exhibition
LUÍS PAULO COSTA
Nov 27th 2008 > Jan 3rd 2009
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art has the pleasure to present its third Luís Paulo Costa solo exhibition.
In this show, Luís Paulo Costa displays four new pieces, which stand between purposeful banality and theatrical staging.
Banality, free from the depreciative meaning the word frequently acquires, is used here as a strategy of extreme realism and simultaneous annulation of the object, which the artist has been recently employing in his work. In the new set of pieces presented here, the artist’s aesthetic and conceptual program remains, though his production is now ruled by a new paradigm: painting is being slowly relinquished in favour of the sculptural dimension of the objects, and especially of their enveloping space. The exhibited pieces explore such concepts as the simulacrum, anticipation, disappointment, inaccessibility and invisibility.
In Welcome, an action that will take place at the gallery’s entrance for just 30 minutes (from 22h00 to 22h30) and only on the opening night, a group of photographers, hired by the artist, will pop their flashes at all the people entering the space. Bathed in a glow of lights, visitors anticipate (given the media hubbub) a major event, or maybe the presence of some celebrity. Inside the gallery, all they see is a regular opening night.
In the gallery’s first room, we find Construção (quase pronto). Luís Paulo Costa has built a wall that makes part of the gallery space inaccessible. The way it was built shows clearly that the spectators have been left on the outside of the construction. There are sounds of people setting up an exhibition: electric saws, power drills, hammers. Perhaps the event anticipated at the entrance is happening inside this space. Once again, we are denied access.
Boas intenções is the piece that is most reminiscent of Luís Paulo Costa’s previous works. A cardboard box – laid open on the ground, with holes on its sides – leads us to believe that there is something inside it. The silence reigning in the piece once again thwarts our expectations. An inquisitive gaze will discover that everything in the box is painted. This is a reconstruction of the object itself, which acquires, through the action of painting, a new identity.
Finally, It can be anything (with light) occupies the whole of the lower gallery. It consists of a wall, painted in Chroma green, and a lighting structure, like the ones used in theatre. Chroma green is the colour used to paint a backdrop for film. The actors perform in front of that backdrop, which will be later replaced by CGI scenery. This wall is used as a space for contemplation, as a place of potency and projection.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Oct 16th > Sep 22nd 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art has the pleasure of presenting its first Daniel Malhão solo show.
In this exhibition, Daniel Malhão pursues certain concerns of central importance to his work, such as the question of a narrative of the double, in terms of both opposition and complementarily, which takes the form of a recurring (but not programmatic) use of diptychs.
The exhibition’s centrepiece, Take off / Landing (LIS) consists precisely of a dialectical interplay between the take-off of a plane from the Lisbon airport and a landing at the same location. The space of travel and time is represented by an oblique strip, which corresponds to the wall area between the piece’s two moments. This division of the piece by means of an empty wall space was previously used by the artist, namely in the series shown at the BES Photo Prize, in which it stood for the skyline.
The other pieces shown also deal with situations of planes and airports, which Daniel Malhão uses to explore such subjects as the sense of dislocation, language games and relations of scale and colour. This photographer is not just interested in looking at architecture (an important feature in his body of work); his intention is to stimulate the viewer’s eye and visual memory by using such structures.
Press Release of the Exhibition
'MORE STATEMENTS IN THE SPIRIT OF MILITANT AGNOSTICISM'
Sep 23rd > Oct 11th 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents 'More Statements in the Spirit Militant Agnosticism', the third solo show at the gallery by Swiss/American artist Michael Biberstein (Solothurn, 1948).
Since his last solo exhibition at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Biberstein has worked on two large scale projects: a mural-size painting for the executive dining room of the new FIFA headquarters in Zurich (completed last year) and a monographic museum for a suite of works, part of the Hess Collection in Colomé, Argentina, with the opening planned for 2010/11.
The current exhibition presents a group of paintings from 2007/2008. Those familiar with Biberstein’s work will discover a clear evolution, mainly chromatically, but also in the transformation of the interior space of the paintings. Those not familiar with the work will discover one of Portugal’s (Biberstein has lived here for over thirty years) most consistent artists.
The work centers on the investigation of how the language of painting (and within that the language of landscape-painting in particular) as an expression of the metaphysical and the sublime affects us physiologically - even after the end of faith and religion.
In one of the exhibition rooms a space of emersion is staged. In the centre of the room, the spectator is encircled by three paintings that fill his horizon. As on a cliff, the horizon stretches beyond the boundaries of the gaze. It is an encounter with something bigger, sublime maybe.
The landscape is deconstructed, saturated, dissolved in order to have a retinal effect. From a distance it presents a depth that extends the painting into the wall, at close proximity the paintings are absolutely flat. This paradoxical situation induces a meditation focus for some and imposes an oscillating movement for others, both stimulated by a search for the intensity of the act of seeing.
Biberstein’s paintings are ‘psycho-physiological’ the artist says, as they aim to impinge on the spectator a subliminal effect in the sense of relaxing him (or her) and allowing him to enter a state of contemplation. They are projection canvases, dialogue membranes open to different ways of seeing and feeling painting. A landscape that surpasses the mere image of nature to present a chromatic space in permanent transmutation, which changes with the light and with theposition of the spectator.
These paintings are atmospheric, almost evanescent. The presence of an aerial element is intensified by titles such as Glider. The titles of the works are inspirations for the creation of an environment. Attractor, for example, reinforces the idea of an invisible force of attraction (be it between elements of the painting, be it of the spectator itself).
Press Release of the Exhibition
Jun 27th > Sep 6th 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents “Recession”, the first solo show in the gallery of the German artists Tatjana Doll (Burgsteinfurt, 1970).
Tatjana Doll is best known for her large-scale paintings in which she employs a vocabulary assembled from images of life in the contemporary cities. Always figurative, and using recurrent motifs, her work can be broken down into several thematic groups: vehicles, containers, seats (stadiums, cinemas) and urban signage. Common places, easily recognizable, that think the visual repertoire of our contemporary society.
Her painting is clear and direct. Admittedly bi-dimensional, Doll moves away from a key characteristic in painting, illusion, to present canvas upon which a sole element is portrayed on a white background. This choice to employ pre-existing images is interrelated with the artist’s will to deny the originality drive. The immediate reading that the works make possible, allow Doll to empty the signs of their meaning allowing the artist to concentrate solely on the image itself. By not making the decision on the content, Doll limits her subjectivity to her intervention in the search for the most intense way to paint.
At Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art Tatjana Doll presents a group of 70 paintings of road signs. The artist decided to extend the poles in order for the sign itself to be located close to the ceiling. This decision bores two consequences, a violent encounter with a forest of bars (a grid that reminisces some minimalist interventions), which encloses the spectator within the space of the gallery; and the effort-making necessity to find the focus of the painting.
This installation, specifically conceived for Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, reflects the artist’s observation of the profusion of signs on the Portuguese roads and materializes her rumination about a society that, in seeking sophistication, needs to implement more and more rules of conduct. A society, which is increasingly oppressive of its citizens and that constantly imposes the paths they are to circulate.
Tatjana Doll presents as well a group of paintings portraying one truck, three Lamborghinis and a couple of Dollar rolls. The whiteness of the canvas representing an erasure of the original context, allows the spectator to locate the object in an imaginary setting.
The title of the exhibition although with a clear economical association (which is also true for the paintings themselves) relates not to the art market but more towards a stagnation of growth (road signs) as well as a suspension of content of the paintings.
Until July 13th the work of Tatjana Doll can also be seen in the exhibition “Institutional and Poetic Violence” at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto.
Press Release of the Exhibition
May 13th > Jun 21st 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to announce that it will be presenting a one-man show by Christian Andersson on the evening of Tuesday, May 13th.
This show – the artist’s first in Portugal – presents a group of four recent and new works where Andersson, a rising Swedish artist, continues to deal with the unstable and transitory nature of perception through sleight of hand and optical illusion, but more specifically, where themes of evidence, duplication and transformation are differently explored.
In Memo, 2008, the exhibition’s centerpiece, Andersson recreates the inside of an office cubicle with shelves, carpets, wastepaper bins and other miscellaneous, commonplace 'props'. Within this nondescript, lifeless interior, a facsimile of reality in itself, nothing remarkable seems to take place with the exception of a certain trace, a ghostly slither of light that moves back and forth, unremittingly. The attentive viewer soon realizes that this almost invisible light corresponds to the once-present photocopying machine and its recurrent use, and that Memo forms a trope which encapsulates the idea of the transience of technology, and in turn, of memory.
The Xerox machine, a must-have to any fully-equipped and functional office in the early eighties and late nineties, that obligatory and glorified prosthetic limb of modern Bureaucracy, which once made such an impact on our lives with its potential for reproduction, now belongs to technological rubbish heap, and the papers we once photocopied as memoranda or evidence on modern acidic paper are now disappearing, eventually turning to dust.
In another related work on view, 1984 (1984), Andersson presents a Portuguese edition of George Orwell’s novel by the same title in a state of flux. This book, which has become a cultural-political icon, presents a dystopian vision of the (now past) future – a vision which has incessantly been re-appropriated for today’s society, even though it has long past its sell-by date. Andersson’s semi-transparent version of the book becomes an undermined icon, illustrating how history changes fiction, which in turn affects reality, and so forth. In this particular instance, Andersson’s interest lies in identifying how each culture graphically portrays the book’s vision and how the cover potentially mirrors the political state of a specific region at a specific time.
With Matt Damon (Near Mint), 2007, Andersson further addresses the issues of cultural exchange and value. This work is comprised of three separately framed, identical autographed posters of the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley.
The counterfeiting apparent in the posters reflects that of the film’s central character, Mr. Ripley, and the installation becomes a mirrored hall where cultural, sentimental and economical values are set against one another, whilst the work is driven forward by a hybrid, three-fold creature consisting of the Artist, the Character and the Actor.
In The -- Record 2008, another work on view, the idea of memory and the writing of history are dealt with as an unstable and theatrical act. This piece consists of an A4 document that rests atop of a filing cabinet (another referent of modern Bureaucracy). The document inexplicably shifts in colour, going from dark black/grey to white. When 'white', the viewer is able to read the document, whilst in its darker state, the text is impossible to read. This effect brings viewers full-circle in that it directs us back to Memo and the progressive motion of the Xerox machine, and by extension, to the developing, unfixed photograph or celluloid film. CA/ND
Press Release of the Exhibition
Apr 4th > May 3rd 2008
Tension has always been at the heart of the imaginings of Julião Sarmento: a psychological and visual state of seizure and unrest. In this second exhibition by the artist at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Sarmento will be showing a new, as yet untitled series of large, mixed media works on canvas and a sculpture where an erotics of delay, in the exhibition as a whole, is differently explored.
As regards to this last statement, delay exists in opposition to consumption or use and is of course contrary to satisfaction and gratification. Tension is brought about by withholding from release, by affecting the viewer and obliging him or her to dwell instead of seeing though or looking past what is presented. Tension augments with opacity and delay.
In this particular show, Sarmento provides his viewers with works that manifoldly evoke this sense of delay. The first and most obvious sense of delay relates to interruption, the interruption of making an image out and the iconicity we have all come to expect from the artist. None of the canvases in the main gallery “represent”; none presents an image, a figure, a silhouette, a picture to entertain our gaze. Instead, what we see on entering the gallery is refrain from figuration: spatters, a grey-tone spray with an odd coloured speckle or blotch on an alabaster ground, where it seems almost impossible for our eyes to find rest. The second delay or suspension relates to the medium and to the painterly gesture. These seemingly (ejaculatory) inchoate sprays, rather than painted on the canvas, are silk-screened, and can be situated in the tradition of the Duchampian bachelor who no longer grinds his chocolate himself. In these works, Sarmento replaces the evident manual gesture of painting with a reproducible technique – that of the silkscreen. In addition to this, he apparently retraces the ultimate model of individual heroic action – abstraction – with an image that is hyper-real. In order to justify this statement, one needs to bear in mind the artist’s process. These works retrace Jackson Pollock’s valorisation of the floor in the sense that they depart from horizontality - pieces of paper the artist simply rubbed against the surface of his studio floor. The residue left from rubbing the paper is then magnified and silk screened, piecemeal, onto the surface of the canvas (by way of an equally horizontal process). In other words, even when lifted off the ground onto the wall of the gallery on which they are to be viewed, these works retain a memory of their production site - the floor - what Pollock saw as being below culture, out of the axis of the body and below form. Extracts from texts are then laden, to weigh heavilyon these works.
As to Sarmento’s sculpture, delay and suspension pervade this work which stages suspension, of an act, of the reflection of the subject and identity
Press Release of the Exhibition
JOÃO PAULO FELICIANO
Feb 28th > Mar 29th 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to present MUSIC LESSONS (Lições de Música), a selection of hitherto unseen works by Lisbon-based artist João Paulo Feliciano.
The title of the exhibition derives, at a first glance, from a series of photographs framed side by side with “original documents” (magazine covers, book pages or record sleeves). The principle of the “music exercise”, where an example is formulated by the teacher for the student to follow and emulate, is taken beyond its literal practice and turn into a conceptual and witty comment on culture as an uninterrupted chain of knowledge that passes from one generation to the next. The exhibition as a whole encapsulates not only João Paulo Feliciano’s sense of humour and use of dadaesque mischief, but his questioning of certain romantic ideals.
João Paulo Feliciano (Caldas da Rainha, 1963) began working as an artist in the mid 1980s. After a relatively short tenure as an abstract painter and a short but decisive period in Brussels where he began to incorporate recycled and found materials, Feliciano moved on to a more conceptual attitude towards his artistic practice. Soon after, his work was invigorated by the explosive force and sheer intensity of rock music, which he embraced in the 1990s with the band Tina & the Top Ten and the experimental and electronic adventure he shared with Rafael Toral, No Noise Reduction. It was at this point that references and elements of music in general and rock in particular began to permeate his work and fuel his already restless
attitude. Rather than commit to categories and disciplines, Felicano has since chosen to push boundaries with his experimental frame of mind and adoption of outright playful procedures that introduce chance, indeterminacy and unpredictability to a body of work that has proven itself to be idiosyncratic and discontinuous.
With this body of new works, Feliciano critically focuses on process more than product. This is not by chance, nor does it derive from any strategic option towards the development of his work, it is rather the result of a truly personal experience: over the past two years approximately, Feliciano has submitted himself to the lengthy trials and tribulations of training according to the conventional regime and practice of classical music, based on theory, eartraining, solfeggio, sight-reading, hand control, posture, discipline, repetition and emulation.
All that he avoided as a child growing up but takes on as an adult with a straight face and determination. To undermine the Romantic ideal, the fetischized artist, Feliciano not only surrenders to the ups and downs of being a student, but additionally takes on the role of trickster, copycat and appropriator, reminding us that the way to become a master, inventor or creator always starts as a mimicking process. We all learn by imitation.
For instance in the work From Right to Left: Playing the Rhodes Electric Piano and the Farfisa Organ. Feliciano takes the cover of Bill Evans’ From Left to Right: Playing the Fender-Rhodes Electric Piano and the Steinway Piano and recreates the cover photo with a sleight difference, that is, he not only uses his own instruments (shifting away from Evans’), but reverses the Left-Right set-up resulting in a face-to-face composition of “student” and “master”.
In Conducting Patterns, an open-ended suite of pencil drawings on paper, Feliciano takes the graphical patterns from a book on conducting techniques and enlarges them to life-size. Afterwards, Feliciano himself practices the beating of bars and measures in front of the sheets of paper, not holding a conductor’s baton but a pencil. The resulting drawings register all of his gestures, with the uncertainties, hesitations, failures and achievements inherent to the process of learning music.
In another piece, the video Mimic Gimmick, Feliciano plays air guitar to the improvisations of legend avant-garde guitarist Derek Bailey. Here, the artist could not be more literal about the process of mimicking, exploring the absurdist aspect of mimicking what, by it’s very nature, cannot be mimicked.
Through this heightening of theatrics, viewers are presented with caricatures and doubles of the Romantic ideal of the artist, someone who evolves into a solitary, suffering genius with an explosive temperament and an unwavering intensity. Feliciano’s copies have the added effect of bringing renewed attention to the patina and intrinsic qualities of the originals he has chosen to emulate. Through these works, João Paulo Feliciano produces deferral. He places himself in the absurd position of the novice but does this to remind us that music is a social event where authors (and listeners) past and present meet. This too can be extended to the work of art which becomes a kind of arena where art-world but also everyday references coalesce and are opened to interrogation.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Jan 10th > Feb 23rd 2008
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is pleased to present THE HUNTER, a solo exhibition featuring new work by Noé Sendas.
Best known for his anonymous, destitute figures sculpted from epoxy resin in tattered, charity shop look-a-like clothes and weathered shoes, his earlier video works, such as the woman found permanently falling and more recently for his work and as an assembler of images, a Benjaminian collector with an eye for encounters that slip unnoticed through our hands, Noé Sendas continues the modern experience of recovering, renovating and re evaluating our relationship with modern-day objects, which includes images both moving and still, with his new show, deftly titled The Hunter.
Consisting of two video installations and one photo-installation, this show presents the work of a ragpicker who finds his material in the public domain and transfigures it with his concern, with his ability to arrange, tinker and prompt involuntary memory and unanticipated links. Sendas thus personifies the letimotif of this show, the hunter or one who scents and imagines spirits in things.
In ‘The Urban Legends’ series, for instance, Sendas works with images and popular legend. In ‘Urban Legend #1’ we see the reflection of the otherwise ordinary soundstage number 28 at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Said to be haunted by the ghost of actor Lon Chaney, all who have tried to dismantle it have fallen victim to fatal accidents. In this particular case, Sendas melds an image of the stage with Chaney in the role that immortalized him, that of the masked, disfigured Phantom in the ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, bringing the shadows and the spectres of the picture of the stage to the fore, showing us how death animates the photograph. Fundamentally, here, spectrality has nothing to do with whether one believes in ghosts or not, but is about demonstrating how ghosts are very much alive and at work within the living present, that is, how ourworld is scarcely as self-sufficient as it claims to be, how the hauntological disseminates and deconstructs the ontological.
In the video ‘Dead Weight’, another piece on view, Sendas plays with the principle that nobody wants to be seen with a dead body or weight. Comprised of two different parts, in the first, a man on the beach strolls into a dead body. As he approaches the corpse, a second man appears. The first man runs a way, giving place to the second. As this second gentleman approaches the cadaver, he is spotted looking. In fear, he too takes flight from the scene only to give space for the first man to come back. In the second part, we see a man on the verge of jumping from a window. Down below, a passer by who sees him runs inside the building, attempting to rescue whom he can only presume is about to jump. Only the rescuer becomes the rescue, that is, he only comes to occupy the place of the suicide: on the ledge, poised and ready to jump. Here, as in Urban Legends, Sendas returns to the Becketian eternal present, which is at once an uncanny beginning without and end and an end without a beginning – opposed to a sense of continuity and unbrokenness. ND