Press Release of the Exhibition
In the exhibition circling the square, Michael Biberstein offers us a thoughtful statement on painting as a systematic practice. The artist revisits the history of art in order to recover, in its subliminal radicalism, structural elements that we identify as the fundamental tools of painting used by the vanguards of the 1920s.
Landscape, the subject that best epitomises the work of the author, is developed through the usage of a colour palette that achieves greater density through the relation between surface and transparency. The faint movements produced by unveilings and overlays transform the canvas in a visual field that erupts in the direction of the depth of the painted image. Facing it, we feel as if we could look into the interior of the represented universe without being conscious of the physical limits of the painting support.
This notion, the abstraction of the limits of the painting support – the canvas’ format – generates a synesthetic tension within the observer that triggers an undeniable appeal for us to focus on the painting, recovering the subject’s physical and psychological (temporal) amplitude. Pertaining to this paradox in Biberstein’s work, Otto Neumaier wrote, in the catalogue of the exhibition A difícil travessia dos Alpes: “his work leads us to the limits of what we are to experience and, in doing that, brings to our minds the limits of soul as regards the possibility of experiencing the world –and itself”.
It is within this field of possibilities that the title of the exhibition – circling the square – brings us back to one of the most
important historical debates painting has developed as a reflection on itself, one that knows its origin in the first quarter of the 20th century. The square, a perfect form, present in the suprematist genesis of geometric abstraction is the transforming element that Biberstein inscribes in these paintings. Working like a magmatic cluster, they are now subjected to the internal tension that this form develops, sustained by equivalent diagonals.
Nevertheless, the title still holds a second relevant question, shaped by the artist’s intent. The circle, another geometric form, is used as a metaphor for the siege of the quadrangular shape that Michael Biberstein chose to organize and regulate his painting. An action that translates the way the author thinks painting in the broad sense and, at the same time, the boundaries and tensions offered to us by his work as a painter.
João Silvério | November 2012
MICHAEL BIBERSTEIN was born in Solothurn, Switzerland, where he lived until 1964 when he moved to the US. There he finished his formal education, including an important year with David Sylvester at Swarthmore College, where he studied art history. As a painter he is self-taught. Biberstein has lived and worked in Portugal since 1978. Michael Biberstein's work is included in the following public and pivate collections: Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, UK; CAM - Centro de Arte Contemporânea da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal; Colecção Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Lisbon, Portugal; CNAP – Centre National des arts plastiques, Ministère de la Culture Francese, Paris, France; Fundação Luso-Americana, Lisbon, Portugal; Fundação Serralves, Oporto, Portugal; Hess Art Collection, California, USA; Kunstmuseum Aarau, Aarau, Switzerland; Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Solothurn, Switzerland; Ludwig Forum für Neue Kunst, Aachen, Switzerland; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museu Colecção Berardo, Lisbon, Portugal; UniCredit Group Collection, Munich, Germany; Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA.
Press Release of the Exhibition
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art presents GHOST (2009-2012), a film by João Onofre. The film documents the silent journey of a floating island, inhabited by a lonely palm tree (Howea Forsteriana) which towers eleven meters over the islet’s surface. Built with no other purpose but Onofre’s film, the small island traverses the city of Lisbon along the Tagus River, from east to west, until is lost over the horizon.
Filming where the borders of fiction and documentary overlap and by confronting the boundaries of both genres, Onofre activates a paradoxical impression that is intensified by the strangeness of the event. A constructed reality, the island embodies the dream of a land where our collective imagery places a different, idyllic existence. Being so far from its natural context, unbecoming to our reality, the Howea Forsteriana is not easily found in the Northern Hemisphere, the island takes on a ghostly character.
Passing through, the nomadic Island offers a mirage to all who witness the happening, further stressing the dichotomy between real and unreal. In this context it is useful to call upon the history of cinema that, from Georges Méliès to David Lynch, has had its grounds on the illusory and unexpected, bringing us to the fragile boundary between real and supernatural.
This exhibition includes a set of 36 photographic images, inkjet prints on Luster paper, documenting the journey of the islet through Lisbon, on the day the film was shot. The images reveal the changing light conditions over the Tagus River, recording the event and reaffirming its ghostly character.
Ana Mary Bilbao / Carla de Utra Mendes
JOÃO ONOFRE was born in 1976 in the city of Lisbon, where he still lives and works. He studied at Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa and concluded his MFA at Goldsmiths College, London. Onofre has shown his work in numerous individual and group exhibitions in galleries and museums, national and international, such as: Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago); Albright-Knox Gallery (Buffalo, New York); Centre Georges Pompidou – MNAM/CCI (Paris); The Weltkunst Foundation (Zurich); La Caixa (Barcelona); MACS – Museu de Serralves (Porto); CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon); MNAC – Museu do Chiado (Lisbon); GAM – Galeria D’Arte Moderna e Contenporanea (Torino).
Upcoming solo shows: Thalia Theatre (Lisbon), October 2012; National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu do Chiado (Lisbon), Temps d’Images, November 2012.
Upcoming group shows: Moral Holiday, Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art (Sunderland), October 2012; Watch that Sound, Netwerk/Centrum voor hedendaagse kunst (Aalst), December 2012; This is not an art show, Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Barcelona, September 2012; Postscript: Writing After Conceptual Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (Denver). This exhibition will be followed by a publication of the University of Chicago Press and will travel, in June 2013, to the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto).
Press Release of the Exhibition
After her first exhibition in Lisbon, at Fundação das Comunicações, in 2012; Adriana Barreto returns to this city invited by Galeria Cristina Guerra to present an ephemeral and unique action, the performance O QUE PODE UM CORPO (What Can a Body Do)1.
This performance, in the continuity of the artist’s work, comes after another performative work (a video) O menor espaço para o corpo (The smallest space for the body). Attentive to the problems implied by the limits of corporeality, by the body’s time and space, by movement and movement as drawing, the work inscribes all of them in a unique visual piece, revisiting the context of dance and choreography as a practice and a strategy to think the temporality of the body.
For this performance, Adriana Barrreto transformed the gallery space in a box/container (like a black box) and created a sound piece. On the black floor we will see two moments of the performance interpreted by the artist and six dancer/performers whose bodies resemble black silhouettes drawn in white.
In the first moment, the dancers remove adhesive tape white markings from their black bodies and place them on the ground, drawing cross-shaped marks; a grid that constitutes the choreographic route and an itinerary that marks the temporal breadth of each body’s movements across the floor. Simultaneously, the sound of a rhythmic voice (the artist herself) declaims a word sequence, guiding the audience through the plurality of meanings that the body’s action in space and time can produce as a metaphor: “repeat, beyond, limit, unfold (…) repeat, movements, intensity, affections, action (…).
During the second moment, the dancer’s bodies suffer a subtle change and become fluid and fluttering while they connect the marks on the black floor with lines drawn with white chalk. Here, drawing is the poetical expression of the impulses of our physicality (and choreographic memory), creating a multiplicity of random drawings that relate with the plurality of shapes and forms that the bodies extract from themselves.
What Can a Body Do, a sentence taken from the universe of Baruch Spinoza – an author that guides many of the artist’s reflections –, proposes an inquiry on the limits and ailments that a body (our body?) is subjected to. These limits can belong to the field of emotions or to the physical world, in which case they can be spatialized and measured. How far is this body, and when?
1 (TN) The choice to translate “o que pode um corpo” as “what can a body do” was made taking in consideration that this is the most common and accepted translation of the original sentence in French (qu'est-ce que peut un corps?) whenever in the context of the writings of Baruch Spinoza and Gilles Deleuze.
Press Release of the Exhibition
metaphotography as crime scene
The photographs of Edgar Martins (Évora, 1977) go beyond the mere image and referent on which they are based. By becoming reflexive and self-critical, they escape the scope of the purely photographic without relinquishing its essence. We can consider them to exist in a hybrid terrain, with affinities not only to painting (apparent in the idea of tableaux and the importance that he grants to composition) but also, to cinema (plateaux) and even to sculpture, through the way in which they establish themselves as images-objects. This last characteristic causes them to resemble characters in a quasi-absurd or nonsensical narrative and recalls the ready-mades of the Dadaists and Surrealists. The elements of the bizarre that we discover in these images (in which humans and animals rarely appear) are proof of this theory, helping to establish a sense of distance in the observer, who distrusts what he sees but surrenders to it through a sort of suspension of disbelief (Coleridge) that raises questions in his mind: “Is this a real place or one fabricated by the artist? Could we be immersed in an F for Fake kind of world?”
In their contemporary relevance, these images correspond to what G. Lipovetsky predicted would be the era of screen culture, in which images can be defined according to three broad categories ranging from image-excess to image-multiplex and image-distance, playing on the logic of special effects; in a style that is almost baroque, simulacral, hyper-real, in which the screen pervades everything. Edgar Martins’ images are therefore a crime scene in which reality is the victim and everyone is trying to establish when, how and by whom the murder was committed (as in a game of Cluedo). Besides playing the role of a forensics specialist, the artist is also a visual archaeologist who brings the finds and ruins of the contemporary to the light of day.
The theatricality and artificiality of these images, which oscillate between the real and the imaginary, bring them closer to the notion of the fantastic via a certain familiar strangeness that imbues the episode in front of us with suspense. Rather than being random images, chosen according to chance, they stem from a process of conceptual idealization undertaken by the artist, who, like a scientist, makes a prior and careful study of the arrangement of the elements, which are placed in a highly elaborate compositive order.
In a tradition associated with topographic photography, the locations depicted by Edgar Martins are places that are not yet places, populated by floating signifiers. That is, they are places which are open to a multiplicity of meanings, to an infinite possibility which is not contained by the physical boundaries of the image. The mind thereby uncovers the structure of the world, which at times is revealed in excesses of meaning so that we may better understand it. The work of art is thus transformed into a language through which we are able to access reality, reinventing it as if it were a remake. The fixity is therefore only apparent, the result of the fact that one of photography’s functions is to crystallize time and the world. Otherwise, through the doubts that they awaken and the associations that they suggest, the images impart a dynamic of thought that sets them in motion, forcing us to reflect on the world around us.
Carla de Utra Mendes
Edgar Martins was born in Évora (1977) and grew up in Macau (China). In 1996 he moved to the UK, where he later completed an MA in Photography and Fine Art at the Royal College of Art (London). His first book – Black Holes & Other Inconsistencies – was awarded the Thames & Hudson and RCA Society Book Art Prize. A selection of images from this book was also awarded the Jerwood Photography Award in 2003. His works have been exhibited internationally at institutions such as PS1 MoMA (New York), Centro Cultural Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro), the New Art Gallery Walsall (Walsall, UK), and the Wapping Project (London), among many others. In 2010, the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian (Paris) hosted his first retrospective exhibition. Edgar Martins was the recipient of the inaugural New York Photography Award (Fine Art category) in May 2008. In 2009 he was also awarded the prestigious BES Photo Prize (Portugal), as well as a SONY World Photography Award (Landscape category). More recently, Edgar Martins won first prize in the Fine Art – Abstract category of the 2010 International Photography Awards and was also nominated for the Prix Pictet 2009. The artist was selected to represent Macau (China) at the 54th Venice Biennale. Edgar Martins works and lives in the UK.
Edgar Martins' art is represented is several private and public collections, including BESart - Colecção Banco Espírito Santo, Portugal; Colecção Fundação EDP, Portugal; Fundação PLMJ, Portugal; Colecção CAM - Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Portugal; Colecção Santo SGPS, Portugal; Colecção António Cachola, Portugal; the Victoria and Albert Museum, United Kingdom; the National Media Museum, United Kingdom; the Dallas Museum of Art, USA; Fondation Carminac, France; the Howard Stein Collection, USA; the Ballymore Group Collection, United Kingdom; Colección Vega, Spain.
Press Release of the Exhibition
“You know marrying money is a full time job
I don't need the aggravation
I'm a lazy slob
I hang fire, I hang fire
Hang fire, put it on the wire”
The Rolling Stones, ‘Hang Fire’, Tattoo You, 1981
Yonamine’s artwork is marked by the interaction of means of production, expressed in the way each one of his pieces is built. The artist redeploys hierarchies of cultural signifiers and sociological typologies in a cumulative praxis that is ever expanding, following his own experiences as a mundane and cosmopolitan individual, who recognizes his instinct of communion and feels part of the world in any place.
From Luanda – his hometown – to Muyehlekete, in Mozambique, passing through Cali, Colombia, as an artist in residence – where the Tattoo You series was started –, to his latest travels through the Orient on the way to Australia, Yonamine appropriates images and actions that he recognizes as signs of miscegenation. The artist explores the ambiguity between coloniser and colonised, cultural manifestations (ancestral and contemporary), encapsulated in a globalised world that is marked by colonial transition.
This conjunction of signifiers reveals a prolific and diverse artistic practice, confirmed in this exhibition. We see it in the Indian ink drawings over Chinese newspapers (these newspapers being one of his first strong visual impressions arriving at the orient) used as base material to intertwine drawings appropriated from tattooing and scarification.
Another piece, CAN (from the series Tattoo You, that addresses influences such as the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Hélio Oiticica), is a video installation where the author stages a percussion orchestra using the rhythm of tattoo needles on tin cans. Here we feel an attention on the act of incising a body , being it a scarified tree trunk from Oceania or tattooed coca leaves. Attentive to the body as an ethical, moral and economic signifier, the artist presents it as the agent of manufacture and the simultaneous place for risk, trade and the sensitive, gentle, matter of all initiation ceremonies.
The exhibition “SÓ CHINA” (“ONLY CHINA”) is another stage of Yonamine’s field work, an experience dispersed throughout a diversity of contexts, embodying his work and research methods and allowing procedural decisions to be tested in the exhibition space; being it, overall, another moment for experimentation and confrontation.
Press Release of the Exhibition
João Paulo Feliciano’s artwork is defined by a relentless experimental approach through which everything that surrounds him can be appropriated and converted into pliable substances. Within his body of work we can list images, objects, paintings, sculptures, sound installations, music, text, lyrics and several other strongly performative actions. All these contribute to outline his practice as an author that chose to refuse the possibility of being classified through the media he uses as well as through a particular style.
His filiation as an artist, concerning both visual arts and music, strikes us as unusual by not being the natural result of an academic evolution and education in these areas, but the consequence of a compulsive attention to other authors, their medias and works, resulting in a sharing, self-learning process. We can say that Feliciano is an independent artist as, in a broad sense, he does not restrict himself neither to a fixed artistic genre nor the traditionally evolutive hegemony of a curricular path, aligned with the rules of the art market and the system of relations and protocols it imposes.
Under the title Monkey Business, the exhibition reveals a political, ironical stance that brings into question, once more, the position of the artist and the gallery within the universe of contemporary art. João Paulo Feliciano does not yield to the temptation of using a political discourse as expression of an activist or interventional action. On the contrary, he reveals his working processes using the gallery space as an extension of his daily activity as an artist and cultural producer. The exhibition is not built as a system of relations between different pieces but as a discourse that flows between the presentation of recent work and the appropriation of the space by displacing part of the imaginary contents of the artistís studio to the gallery. As if the exhibition was just one more moment in his daily life.
Converting and reframing spaces, different media and objects, is a recurring strategy and distinguishing feature in JPF’s work. A sculpture composed by two similar deactivated electronic organs disposed back to back, united by a flat mirrored surface dislocates the observerís perception while at the same time the artist bombards the acknowledgement processes we are subjected through the semantic internalization of the workís title, A Pair of Pair.ies.
Funky Junk I and Funky Junk II, images printed on canvas, depict a stack of keyboards (still lifes?). These pieces inhabited the artist’s working space, stored at random and haphazardly handled, bordering abuse, they were later recovered to reveal a daily routine where the production of the artwork is a momentary process that solely depends on the artist decision.
This approach to production process is transferred to the gallery space through the presence of several objects, pertaining to different typologies and cultural references: merchandising (related with his music work), music albums, catalogues and books produced in different moments of his career both as musician and as an artist. The absence of art pieces in the last room of the gallery disrupts the context of the show. There, we can find a heterogeneous collection of objects for sale. It is as if the gallery and the show incorporate a garage sale of personal items, all available for a small price. A flee market that ironically questions the status of the art market and consumers. This intervention, abruptly discontinuing the exhibition, emphasizes the desire of the artist to use strategies and actions unrelated to the hierarchy of the art object as a trade value.
Monkey Business can be seen as an index of João Paulo Feliciano’s body of work. The exhibition offers clues to his actions, signs of a cumulative, cinetic, multidisciplinary and transgressing artistic process. Returning to the title of one of Feliciano’s first pieces, Mind Your Own Business, we can recover this open approach on his work. Dating from the early nineties, this video confronts the viewer with the impossibility of perceiving the rapidly changing images. An ironic moment that stems from the everyday life of an author fuelled by the stimuli that impel him to think about the artistic practice as a way of life.
João Paulo Feliciano (Caldas da Rainha, Portugal, 1963)
JPF is a visual artist and musician whose work spans a broad spectrum of media and creative strategies. Selected shows include: Sonic Boom – the Art of Sound, Hayward Gallery, London, 2000; XXVI São Paulo Bienal, 2004; solo show at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Oporto, 2004; The Possibility of Everything: JPF selected works 1989-1994 (major survey show), Culturgest, Lisbon; The Blues Quartet, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati. As a musician he has collaborated, among others, with Rafael Toral, Christian Marclay, Phill Niblock, Lee Ranaldo or David Toop. In 2009 he founded the dance orchestra Real Combo Lisbonense, dedicated to exploring the heritage of early portuguese pop music. At the same time he launched his own record label – Pataca Discos – through which he has released the music of Real Combo Lisbonense as well as debut albums for singer and songwriter Márcia and the band You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown.