Press Release of the Exhibition
LUÍS PAULO COSTA
'Pintado por Cima'
Nov 17th 2011 > Jan 11th 2012
“Every image embodies a way of seeing”.1
When Painting breaches Protocol
Protocol can be defined as the establishing of a hierarchical order determining rules of conduct. To think about
how to act before a work of art, considering there are proper forms for its analysis can be understood as an act of protocol of sorts. This belief produces an anatomical feature known as the good eye, limited to believing that one’s eye is absolutely correct, so long as it is instructed in the matter at hand. To this good eye Irit Rogoff counters with the curious eye, one that questions (itself) and configures new ways of seeing. Curiosity, a trait of the common man, implies then a certain disquiet, outside of the known universe, within the pleasure of discovering what lies beyond the surface. It ranks, therefore, with commitment, emotional and physical empathy towards the art piece, and thus breaches the protocol.
Ponto de Vista [Point of View] (2011) plays with this paradox. On one hand, it defines how the public must position their body, relaying to them the ideal manner to be placed before the piece. On the other hand, the suggestion of randomness, of free will, the multiplicity of choices, and, likewise, the initial difficulty to interpret the “authoritarian” and normative character of the marks suggests a different attitude, one that implies them as a second creator, whose awareness of their physical positioning becomes an essential factor. The movement of the spectator leads to the aforementioned curious eye.
The works of Luís Paulo Costa, contrary to proper protocol, play with risk and improvisation. This imponderability can be found in We Use Red Balls (2011), defining the artist’s attitude towards the spectator, in an interaction close to the idea of a game. The red of the golf balls establishes here a notion of danger associated with the idea of standing still, but also to the ludic temptation that lies within us all. Like the other pieces on display, this piece comes with a catch.
This nigh-revolutionary action of “confusing the system” becomes an artistic gesture. It is almost revolutionary for here there is no explicitly political intention or any sort of manifesto, but rather the recognition of the truth that a work of art, and namely painting, is a surface prone to error and the imponderable. Changeable like life itself.
Most of these works have a photographic base, found at random, as if the artist happened to stumble upon the
imaginary image museum of the world. They are then covered by a pictorial layer, and hence the title of this exhibit: Pintado por Cima [Painted Over]. Painting function here as a second skin.2
This dialogue/confrontation between the photographic image and the paintings is a fundamental factor for
understanding this exhibit. According to Rosalind Krauss, supported by Pierre Bordieu (Un Art Moyen) watching a photograph leads to repetitive notions by affirming “this is this” or “this is that”, within the limitation of a stereotype.
Painting breaks with this way of thinking by establishing a velocity that is different to that of the contemporary sense of urgency, humanizing what seems machinal and repetitive. Even if it is not unique in its theme, it is so in its essence.
In these pieces, it seems to make the photographic original disappear, although it remains fundamental for the artist, who reinforces this notion in their titles, suggesting both what is hidden and what overlaps it. Thus, along with their origin, these images create an alter-reality that is revealed in its plastic corporality. Not just an appropriation, but a true recreation.
This is what is witnessed in, among many other examples, Big Moon (2011). This piece departs from a snapshot of the largest moon in two decades taken on the countryside by the artist, an event that took place on 19-03-11. What results from it is, probably, the feeling shared by all when setting out to take snapshots of the moon and the frustration of expectation when the result is a small white dot that in no way reveals the magnificence of the object pictured. In pictorial terms it is a white circle on a black background – in the abstraction of reality however it belongs with the imagination of possible infinities. This creative capacity, allied with a curious eye, allows us to break with the rules, the common, the ordinary.
There is a Portuguese idiom that expresses what we affirm here: borrar a pintura toda [to blotch up the painting,
literally]. This action (condemnable by those one should “paint straight”) represents however the creative sense that has always been true in painting: that everything can be resumed to the way we appropriate subjectively the world available to us, countering the protocol of common sense. The banal can, after all, be truly extraordinary...
Carla de Utra Mendes
1 Berger, John, Ways of Seeing
2 In his essay, Moi-Peau, Didier Anzieu affirms that skin is, just as in life or painting, a surface of contradictions and ambivalence, somewhere between resistance and vulnerability, protection and risk, and prone to various accidents.
Press Release of the Exhibition
“The installation is frequently denied the status of a specific art form, because it’s not obvious what the medium of an installation actually is. Traditional art media are all defined by a specific material support: canvas, stone, or film. The material support of the installation medium is the space itself. That does not mean, however, that the installation is somehow “immaterial”. On the contrary, the installation is material par excellence, since is spatial – and being in the space is the most general definition of being material. The installation transforms the empty, neutral, public, space in to an individual artwork – and it invites the visitor to experience this space as the holistic, totalizing space of the art work. “
The second part of the all to wall exhibit presents works by Michael Biberstein, Carla Filipe, José Loureiro, Henning Lundkvist*, Daniel Malhão, Cesare Pietroiusti, Diogo Pimentão, Sabine Hornig and Kim Schoenstadt.
Continuing from the initial proposal for a possible route stemming from different notions of spatiality and impermanence, the exhibit takes on another direction with an emphasis on narrative. Word and image occur in the most diverse means of artistic expression such as painting, drawing, sound, photography, video or installation, and present the exhibiting space as an apparently transitory place. Thus, the exhibition assumes the role of a network, unlikely though it may seem, of connections that situate us before stories, speculative reflections and collaborative proposals that return the space to us as a medium. A redemptive instance of individual experience before each work, in the sense that the space and the works of art exposed within it come together as an essential device in the artistic process. In this sense, the transformation to which the gallery is temporarily subjected to represents a moment of passage, like an archaeological record, a material remain of its performative characteristics to which only the exhibited pieces can attest in these two exhibitive moments.
* Unique presentation of the video Heart of Darkness #2 by Henning Lundkvist, 22 September at 11 pm
During the exhibition period (September 23 to November 10), the work will be displayed upon request of the visitor.
Press Release of the Exhibition
all to wall (parte I)
curador João Silvério
Artists: Christian Andersson, Juan Araujo, Vasco Barata, Filipa César, Luís Paulo Costa, João Onofre, Julião Sarmento, Nuno Sousa Vieira e Rui Toscano
Jul 7th > Sep 17th 2011
all to wall is an exhibiting proposal to take place in two sequential moments of the gallery’s program.
The first part of the exhibit will present works by Christian Andersson, Juan Araujo, Vasco Barata, Filipa César, Luís Paulo Costa, João Onofre, Julião Sarmento, Nuno Sousa Vieira, and Rui Toscano.
The second part, due in September, will reveal different artistic proposals and eventually other issues will come to the fore at the gallery.
The exhibit tends towards an idea of impermanence, or of passage, regardless of the sense of each artistís work or of the different media used and installation proposals. What is sought here is to establish a possible, yet not inevitable, route, uncovering the less obvious relations and traces that may eventually amplify our imagination and summon poetic, inter-textual and semantic relationships from an idea of spatiality.
To this we must add a second look over the gallery space, in order to re-update it by means of a simple intervention - the building of a wall. This intervention is the single permanent element, common to both exhibiting proposals, and allows us to re-evaluate spatial determinations, in the sense that it establishes the place where the exhibition is held, and thus an integral part of the construction of the discursive route the visitor will follow in a connection intended as close as possible, bringing to the forefront the work of the body as a central element of one’s relationship to each piece.
However, the presence of architecture or its transformation – even if temporary – can ultimately reshape the space retributively as a condition of that very dialectic possibility, in the sense Daniel Buren assigns to it and which is transcribed below, from an essay published in 1975:
“Every place radically imbues (formally, architecturally, sociologically, politically) with its meaning the object (work/creation) shown there. Art in general refuses to be implied a priori and so pretends to ignore or reject the draconian role imposed by the museum (the gallery), a role both cultural and architectural. To reveal this limit (this role), the object presented and its place of display must dialectically imply one another.” 1
To be continued .../....
1Cf. Daniel Buren, “Function of Architecture, Notes on work in connection with the places where it is installed taken between 1967 and 1975, some of which are specially summarized here”, Thinking about Exhibitions, London and New York: Routledge, 2002 (new edition), p. 315.
Press Release of the Exhibition
May 5th > Jul 2nd 2011
“I am an artist. Artists are simple creatures. Give us something to draw with and some food, and we´re content. Or to paint or sculpt whatever. That´s all we need, really”. 1
Erwin Wurm’s Zeitgeist or Where do I fit in the grand scheme of things?
Zeitgeist is a German word meaning the spirit of the times, the spirit of the epoch or sign of the times, designating the ensemble of the intellectual and cultural climate of the world in a certain epoch, or the general characteristics of a determined time frame. Erwin Wurm (b.1954, Austria) refers to it frequently when speaking about his work, in a constant exploration of the relationship between Art and Philosophy that expresses itself in various forms within his work (such as in the Philosophers series, 2009). This allows him to speak of the absurdity of human condition within contemporaneity through humour and irony. The material is thus rendered with a psychological and emotional connotation expressing a certain state of affairs.
Idiots that we are (Idiot I, II and III series) in the times that we live in, and essentially absurd, it isn’t difficult for us to understand how we can use laughter as derision (as philosopher H. Bergson would have it); in sum, as a weapon for combat and denouncement. Wurm explores it, incessantly, through sculpture, gifting it with endless possibilities: by shaping, transforming and deforming.
In this sense, his work questions the notions of classical sculpting and its conventions, subverting it and creating odd still lifes of the quotidian and the banal. It appeals thusly to the capacity of questioning of the observer who feels at once bothered and attracted by the simultaneous strangeness and familiarity (Heimlich/ Unheimlich) of each situation that is created. For this reason, it is essential for the artist to resort to a shared database, from popular icons (Claudia Schiffer series, 2009) to consumer brands (Hermès series, 2008), the mores of the Middle East (Babylon series, 2010) and everyday items (chairs, detergents and toothbrushes, among others). In him, sculpting, much as life itself, is an ephemeral act that is captured only by photography, as a witness of the event.
Wurm’s work creates a psychology of our society, in that it establishes, by itself, strange relationships between people and the atmospheres they live in and the things they possess. A politically incorrect man (recalling one of his older series, Instructions on How to be Politically Incorrect, 2002/03), Wurm fulfils the role of one who is a marginal in the face of hypocrite normality (he often tells the story of his father, a police detective, who always saw artists as a type of criminals) and, through the use of consumables “of our times” expresses the spirit of now, within the frame of an attitude concerned with shape and content. In truth, much like all of us, Wurm’s work deals with the constant truth of the difficulty to manage life.
Here, laughter is serious business.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1 Wurm, Erwin, in Video Interview on Submarine Channel, recorded on 2007-09-06.
The work of Erwin Wurm is present in many prestigious collections, such as: Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane (Australia); MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna (Austria); Centre Pompidou Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (France); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (Germany); National Museum of Art, Osaka (Japan); Kunsthaus Zurich, Zurich, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, St. Gallen (Switzerland); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, The Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York (USA).
Press Release of the Exhibition
Mar 22nd > Apr 30th 2011
“Such are the simpler forms that create strong gestalt sensations.” 1
Robert Morris Notes on Sculpture 1-3
“If one notices one´s immediate visual field, what is seen? Neither order nor disorder. Where does the field terminate? In an indeterminate peripheral zone, none the less actual or unexperience for its indeterminacy, that shifts with each movement of the eyes.” 2
Robert Morris, Notes on Sculpture 4: Beyond objects
The Expanded View
The photography work of Daniel Malhão (Lisbon, 1971) has thus far been characterized by the relationship between photography and architecture. To this equation one must add landscape and sculpting. For this artist, these concepts are united in a unique range within which not disciplinary purity but rather the attitude before what is captured is relevant; this is the result of a determined lineage pertinent to the contemporaneity inhabited by hybrid and flexible forms.
In these works one sees the photographer use photography in its stance as monument, by working around concepts such as work/ruin and construction/reconstruction, among other opposing poles. Photography, here, materializes the locus by flagging it. This is characteristic of Daniel’s images, and can be understood as site-specific (other designations, such as marked sites and site constructions, would also be pertinent). The Unfinished Project 2010/2011 series arises from these preoccupations. This is a set of images of unfinished houses near Cape Espichel, from whence one may extract several layers of understanding, in which the sense of monument is absolutely defining. Its installation in the gallery space follows the lay of the land, reinterpreting it, and through it one can observe many interesting details relating to the construction typology, among others. In the same series one may also observe a sense of evolution, from a nearly finished house to a bare-bones structure, as the images move towards the sea, resembling roman temples where the idea of foundation becomes relevant. This idea of foundation is also present in Oceanário de Lisboa, Expansão. 2010, where the presence of water is artificial; a reminder of another opposing pole, presiding over the cultural/natural duality and the architecture/landscape relationship. Beyond the underlying irony, this series brings forth questions pertaining to the political and social spectrums, as these are illegal constructions built on protected landscape areas.
Yet another approximation to the theme of nature is found in Corta.Mina de São Domingos, 2010, where the approach to landscape as sculpture is clear. However, unlike a sculptor, the photographer does not have to intervene upon the object or otherwise change the landscape in any way, as it possesses, per se, enough sculptural characteristics. The photographer merely registers the form and the output is charged with pictorial characteristics, thus bringing to the table a questioning regarding means used and results obtained.
The attention given to perception and the construction of vision or, ultimately, the act of seeing itself, is another relevant factor in Daniel’s work. Porto de Sines, 2008, is an example of this. It is part of a theme that explores the diptych format and plays with the observer’s perception; this, in turn, refers to and builds upon previous works, such as As far as I can see, 2008, a reflection on the line of horizon, the relation to time (inherent to every photograph) and also on distance and the limits of the reach of sight. In this picture of the seaport of Sines, the composition and strength lines of the image’s construction play a more relevant part in the way in which the observers must organize their perception. Simultaneously, these works are not confined to the act of observing, but rather question the very choices of the photographer himself. Why is this frame chosen and not the one next to it or the one after that? What formal decisions preside over these choices? From this point of view, both images are formally autonomous, but play with their complementarities, one accruing from the other as well as from the alternation between the choices of different framings. This left/right duality is also visible in other elements: vertical and horizontal axes, near and far, the two towers in each of the images, and others.
However, what is more relevant yet to this dialectic is what is in and off camera, calling for the expansion of one’s sight. What is off-camera is also, in a certain way, expressed in the gap between these images as, while they may be construed as a panorama, they remain separate entities. This gap may be interpreted as a virtual space calling for the observers’ capacity to project, and this is indeed where their performance is requested. In Posto de Abastecimento, Quinta da Mougueta Mafra, 2010, we find a different approach to off-camera, and, in a broader sense, the concept of expansion. This picture is the result of the exploration of the vernacular theme of contemporary art that are gas stations (which is not self-evident and whose singular character and architectural value were essential factors for choosing this particular picture). The off-camera is introduced here fundamentally by two elements, both of which are directed towards a space outside the frame: the cctv camera and the gaze of the character inside.
The “open” character of Daniel Malhão’s work plays a large part in all of the above considerations; this is perhaps most evident in the picture chosen to illustrate this show. Campo de Jogos Zona Industrial Massamá, 2010, underlines the artist’s penchant for simple architectural forms, and, by choosing a “cage” of sorts, provides a metaphor for the permeability of the various artistic areas. The act of delimiting space is in itself architectural, but also sculptural. In spite of the very concrete and very rich frame provided, to understand the work of Daniel Malhão we must expand our own mental and visual field; for, in the words of Anton Ehrenzweig, “Our attempt at focusing must give way to the vacant all-embracing stare.” 3
Carla de Utra Mendes
1 Morris, Robert, “Notes on Sculpture 1-3”, in Art in Theory 1900-2000, an anthology of changing ideas, ed. Charles Harrison & Paul Wood, London: Blackwell, 2003, p. 829
2 Idem, “ Notes on Sculpture 4: Beyond Objects”, ibidem, p. 881
3 Ehrenzweig, Anton, ibidem, p. 881
Press Release of the Exhibition
'SMOKE AND MIRRORS'
Feb 4th > Mar 12th 2011
Illusion. Mirrors and blue smoke, beautiful blue smoke rolling over the surface of highly polished mirrors, first a thin veil of blue smoke, then a thick cloud that suddenly dissolves into wisps of blue smoke, the mirrors catching it all, bouncing it back and forth. 1
I don't think when I make love.
This is the first episode of a narrative in three acts being told in the Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, BES Arte e Finança and Appleton Square.
In this exhibition the plot is developed around a very well-known expression - Smoke and Mirrors – inspired by the illusions that magicians perform and which is metaphorically used to describe, among other things, deception, fraud and superficiality. Here it is related to João Louro’s central themes, namely the glamour of contemporary society and consequently its critical approach.
All of the works in this exhibition at the same time as being a reflection on important issues in the artist’s work are simultaneously concurrent to the meaning stated here, constructing a structure destined for illusion and immersion. The tradition of these spaces is long, and nowadays their effects are still being debated. In their association to art they go back to the galleries of Pompeii, where the walls were painted with the Bacchian rites that it was thought induced the observer/participant into a drunkenness of senses and a torpor that affected rational capacity in order to benefit delight in pleasures. In philosophy the allegory of Plato’s cave is more than well known, in which men were fooled by the shadows that they believed to be reality, immersed in the ignorance of a device precisely created for that effect and which some critics have associated to a cinema hall.
Art, love, the cinema, literature, drugs or the world of fashion (fundamental references in this exhibition) all participate in this enormous universe of the simulacrum, made to “fool” reality, proposing another world in which the subject can immerse himself. This narcotic effect of immersion presupposes a total submission of the body, of the senses and of the mind, enjoying the wonderful effects of ecstasy, power, fame or beauty.
This is one of the meanings of João Louro’s invitation and is one of the reasons for including the work exhibited referring to the “molecule of love”: MDMA (the abbreviation for metylenodioximetamphetamine). This work is also related to another one, in which the game of words is taken from the title of Roger Vadim’s film, Et Dieu Créa la Femme (1956), starring Brigitte Bardot, one of Louro’s muses and the personification of sensuality. Baudelaire stated about women in Artificial Paradises: “Evil minds will find it singular, and even impertinent, that a painting of artificial voluptuousness is dedicated to a woman, the most common source of natural voluptuousness. (…) The woman is the being that projects the biggest shadow and the greatest light in our dreams. The woman is fatally suggestive; she lives in another life besides her own: she lives spiritually in the imaginations she frequents and fecundates”. Bardot also protagonises the fleetingness and ephemeral nature of fame and beauty, important issues, expressively reflected to the contemporary condition in one of its fundamental elements: fashion… the crucial subject in this exhibition. Live fast, die young.
In this field the mirror has a lot to say. The object of Narcissus, of eternal contemplation of egocentric beauty and which makes is also an object of death and capture. To concentrate only on our reflection is to ignore the world around us, which may lead us to the “devil’s door”. However, just as in Louro’s Blind Images, this surface may be the place of emptiness or alternately the place of all possibilities, in trying to understand their use, using our image bank. To do so it is enough to possess the curiosity to question and research into their statement.
Cardinal sins also inhabit this universe. This little cave of vanities is populated (just like the halls of mirrors in fairgrounds that increase, shrink or deform reflections) not just by great works but also by little and intimate ones, the characteristics of which lead to a different type of reflection.
In fact, all of this is a great journey to the Self, supported on the great appearances of the world. In this sense this space is also a hall of games: between associations of phrases and words, between meanings, between opposite states. Between fascination and repulsion.
There is another alternative in this gallery of mirrors and illusions without being immersion in a loss with no return or the careless diversion consisting of a return to consciousness, the critical capacity necessary for all the “inhabitants” of the contemporary world. Any of these possibilities is related to the artist’s modus operandi: to give frames for the observer to question himself, discover and make of the images that he (doesn’t) see(s) his own in interpreting them. As Baudelaire states: “Good sense tells us that things of the earth have little existence, and that true reality is only in dreams. In order to digest natural happiness, as well as the artificial one, you first have to have the courage to swallow it (…)”.
Thus in this gallery of mirrors each person sees their own reflection, immersed (or not) in illusions … those we create or are created for us.
What does one feel? What does one see? Wonderful things, isn’t it so? Extraordinary spectacles? Is it beautiful? It is terrible? Is it dangerous? (…) Imagine the drunkenness (…) like a prodigious country, a vast theatre of sleight of hand and of conjuring, where everything is miraculous and unforeseen.
Carla de Utra Mendes
1 Breslin, Jimmy, How the Good Guys Finally Won, Notes from an Impeachment Summer, 1975, pp. 33-34.
2 Baudelaire, Charles, Os Paraísos Artificiais, Lisboa, Estampa, 1971, p.9