We have been drinking and feeding ideas out of their places, not because we are genetically resistant to them, but because the ideas which transform societies are not the ones which hover over them, repeated ad nauseam in daily speech, but the ones which create roots and turn themselves into social and individual behaviour, that is, the ones which interfere with and impregnate daily culture.1
The first idea this collective exhibition intends to state and impregnate in contemporary culture is the one related to the synergy between people and projects on behalf of the conviction that culture is the only vessel which is able to transform territories, in a profound and sustainable way, adding value to them and shaping them into possible dream and collective desire sites.
In this regard, we maintain the baton at the start of the 2018´s edition of Braga’s Book Fair and in the presentation gala of the 23rd edition of dst’s Great Literature Award, which rewards Daniel Jonas’s poetry this year. The concept of city we wish to implement is different from the visceral and real one which belongs to the awardee who, with his words, keeps us vigilant and makes us try not to spread the nauseating scent of the social divisions which mark our streets on a bigger and bigger number and wider and wider scale. As Adorno (1903-1969) once wrote the tip which art turns to society is itself something social, a reaction against the opaque pressure of the ‘social body’; as the inner aesthetic progress, the progress of the productive forces, especially technique, is connected to the progress of the extra aesthetic productive forces.2 The German sociologist, who we connect to the named School of Frankfurt, in the admission of the importance of the irrational, respecting denial, contradiction, difference, dissonance and the inexpressible, is taken to value Art and artistic creation, mainly the one linked to forefront. Promoting the generalised contact of the audiences with contemporay artistic creation is our way of reacting and, mainly, of acting.
We have chosen seven protagonists for this event (one of them shares the stage with a group of other protagonists who learn and explore ceramics with him at his studio). All of them work on an object dimension but not necessarily on a sculpture basis, since it includes artists who start from the wider dimension of paintwork, expanding it. Why the three-dimensional object? Why sculpture in a more lyrical sense? Turning to Delfim Sardo’s words, everything has to do with the absence or the presence of the body and the significants it invokes and we are interested in explaining, proposing and imposing civically and aesthetically:
Sculpture was born from another more ancient activity: statuary. And statuary has always been a reminder of absence – of someone who disappeared, of an event which, as it no longer exists, must be frozen in stone or brass.
Our ground zero, our starting point is the following assumption: sculpture is the substitute for statuary and its death is hidden in its statement, even because death, its reminder, the evidence of absence are always inside the sculpting process. In that sense (and this is the second assumption), 20th century’s sculpture consists of a permanent work of absence, of a body which no longer exists – for it is in another place, as it was metamorphosed, as there is only a sign of it. During this process, sculpture has expanded; it has expanded so much that it has stopped existing to transform itself into the genre which is the most difficult to define, to circumscribe, since its range has almost no exterior. (…)
Sculpture is the cocoon for our body, the most perfect correspondent to the idea of a museum itself.3
The questions, the doubts matter to curatorship and they matter to this particular curatorship. We take interest in questioning the act of discipline in contemporary art, sensual, insatiable in its crave for pleasure, furrowed by blurry impulses4. While selecting the artists, the act of questioning sculpture as a subject, its boundaries, tendencies and possibilities determined the final choice. Generational connections and authors with different concept and technical approaches are sought, as well as various methodologies and used materials. Six of them have been the focus of zet gallery and by keeping the same practices adopted in January 2017, the exhibitions have been excellent opportunities to challenge artists who are part of the aesthetical background we belong to. The exhibition 7 CASE-BY-CASE POETRY FORMS has thus established its own assumptions and criteria: to unite people and projects and question sculpture as a subject. It is the artists themselves who unify and it is through their productions that we pose the questions. How do they unify? Ana Almeida Pinto, João Carqueijeiro (and Grupo em Construção – the Group Under Construction – from his studio), Juan Coruxo, Luís Canário Rocha, Miguel Neves Oliveira, Pedro Figueiredo and Raúl Ferreira start from the books, the poets and the poems which, in this expo-graphic narrative, take the place of sacredness in contrast to the works of art which are placed in direct interaction with the public. Art and Literature enter a vicious circle and influence each other. Going back to Adorno, works of art should not be seen by aesthetics as hermeneutic objects; in our current situation, we should assimilate their inintelligibility.5 Or, as it is stated by Barilli, we may read any poem, or lyrical collection, or novel with a certain indifference for the hardback, the body, the characters chosen by the editor; [yet] the literary work shall not deny to present, stage, dramatize the problematic and uncertain character which appears exactly in our ‘living one”6. The relation to poets and their words sustains, subjectively, the reader/beholder in their assimilation of the work of art. Now a brief framework. By parts.
Ana Almeida Pinto (born 1984) holds a University and Master’s Degree in Plastic Arts – Sculpture by the Fine Arts Faculty of Porto. She has held exhibitions both individually and collectivelly since 2007 and in 2017 she was awarded with two Honourable Mentions – one in the 4th International Women of Arts Biennial in Espinho with the work ‘Geração Arrasta_2015’ and another one in the 2nd International Biennial in Gaia, with the work ‘Resistência (da Solitude) 2017’. She has been a regular participant in artistic residences and has worked as a promoter of workshops and other educational activities. Ana Almeida Pinto believes in the influence of sculpture and all its multiple connections. She sees physicality as an act, a thought, a perception and a contemplation while sculpting. In this exhibition she proposes a set of works where she explores shale (in its relation with iron), turning to ceramic techniques and struggling with the impositions which are inherent to the natural features of the matter. The series ‘Resistance’ stems from Alexandre O’Neill (1924-1986) and the poem “Um Adeus Português” (‘A Portuguese Farewell’).
João Carqueijeiro (born 1954) – thanks to his technical mastery in ceramics, he elevated to the condition of sculptor a long time ago. We find in his works the textures and the colours of the matter in ambitious forms, which the artist uses to challenge space and audience. João Carqueijeiro finished his University Degree in the Co-op Árvore (ESAD) in 1982, under the guidance of the master Sá Nogueira and specialised in Potter’s wheel, Glazed Stoneware and Raku, in La Bisbal Ceramic School, in Catalonia. He has taught ceramics since 1981, either in the area of Professional Training, or in Specialisation Courses, Traineeship Orientation, Workshops, Free Courses, credited by the Scientific and Pedagogical Council of the Continuing Training of Teachers and by the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP). He has held exhibitions in Portugal and abroad since 1986, maintaining a regular activity as a facilitator of activities and events related to ceramics. We can find some of his panels in Portugal and Spain, and we can single out the embossed-0,75 x 100 x0,05-metre-ceramic panel, outside the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Vilamoura. He is an awarded artist and his work is part of museum collections in Portugal, China and Japan. He presents us an installation, produced in his studio in Senhora da Hora, Matosinhos, where we can breathe the atmosphere of ceramic production, technology which responds to this artist’s creativity and gesture, he who is considered by many to be the greatest Portuguese potter nowadays. It is in this same place that he holds workshops and encourages others to create projects. It is in this context that Grupo em Construção – the Group Under Construction – appear (consisting of Ana Riobom, Arménia Vasconcelos, Arminda Garrido, Cecília Côrte-Real, Edgar Moreira, Eduarda Coquet, Fátima Figueiras, Fernanda Figueiredo, Inês Almeida, Isabel Bonifácio, Isabel Sousa Ribeiro, Luís Colares, Manuela Silva, Mariana Tenreiro, Marta Maia, Mavilde Gonçalves, Nuno Ferreira, Olga Leite and Raquel Quelhas), and introduce why not blue?, a play which will integrate a set of tiles in a structure made of mesh which comes from dst group’s park of materials. João Carqueijeiro bases his work on António Ramos Rosa (1924-2013) and the poem “Cada árvore é um ser para ser em nós” (‘Each tree is a being to be in us’). Grupo em Construção (the Group Under Construction) base theirs on António Gedeão (1906-1997) and the poem “Aurora Boreal” (‘Aurora Borealis’).
Juan Coruxo (born 1961) is from Galicia, Vigo and his incursion in the artistic world has been the result of an enormous persistence and generosity. His favourite material is iron, which he has learnt to master as he works as a technician in a metal company. Since the beginning of his career (1995), he has collaborated regularly with distinguished artists from the Iberian Peninsula and other countries. Since 2000, his works have gained a more and more refined style of its own, which is notably abstract, even if it has some autobiographical suggestions in its form. He has taken part in individual and collective exhibitions and his works can already be seen in several private and institutional collections. He bases his work on Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885) and an excerpt of “O Toque da Alba” (‘The Touch of Alba’), which refers to the issue of the fires in the summer of 2007, have been present in his most recent production.
Luís Canário Rocha (born 1986) is from Guimarães and studied paintwork in the Fine Arts Faculty of Porto. On the one hand, the influence of the Academy and its methods can be seen in his virtuous line; on the other hand, it can bee seen in his process of experimental research. In recent years, he has been developing a set of works with a strong neo-expressionist influence and, in particular, the influence of the American Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). In fact, it is curious this background association to the man who is considered to be the artist who invented the concept of urban art, which is today an institution. Luís Canário Rocha belongs to a generation of artists that apply the academic learning on urban intervention, returning privileged space to the design and construction of reality. He brings the live pallet, the words (full of social and political connotation), which inhabit the prop and the themes, from the streets and from the urban intervention language. The evolution we have witnessed in Luís Canário Rocha’s latest work also shows us his adoption of one of the artistic post-modern tendencies: the desacralisation of props, turning to reusable ones. In this case, one must highlight his works on wood from the series cities. These imagined cities take us to known sets of real or virtual trips but, undoubtedly, they involve us in our current cosmopolitan and dense atmosphere. His work evolves from the vision of cities to the assimilation of details, it surprises us with the clothes-line, a funny scene from the historical centres’ daily life, which are part of their DNA. His work is based on Ary dos Santos (1937-1984) and the poem “A Cidade” (‘The City’) can be seen in his work.
Miguel Neves Oliveira (born 1980) has held exhibitions since 2000. However, this sculptor was born among the noise of natural matter from which life emerges and turns into art. His training is partly empirical and vocational and it is his simplicity that makes him an artist whose talent has gradually revealed itself and he has become worthy of being one of the artists on whom zet gallery has bet. The artist has used wood as his material of choice, yet he remains open to new discoveries and the potentialities of materials such as iron, maintaining the application of a pallet of influence in pop universe, which defines the visual result of his work. Going back to Adorno, the relationship with the New has its model in the child that searches for a chord which has never been heard, which is still virgin. Yet the chord has always existed, its possibilities of combination are limited; in fact, it is already on the keyboard. The New is the nostalgia of the New, barely itself; for that reason, it cripples everything which is new. What one tries as something utopian continues to be something negative against what already exists, even though it still belongs to it.7 Miguel Neves Oliveira has recently started working on iron and his return to wood has improved his relationship with nature and the pallet he applies to his form has become even lighter. The work of art expands, grows in ambition, ocupies space. In literature, he based his work on Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) and an excerpt of “Maçãs Silvestres & Cores de Outono” (‘Wild Apples & Autumn Colours’).
Pedro Figueiredo (born 1974) is a living proof of what artistic education in the centre of the country has to offer. He finished the Professional Course of Ceramics in the Artistic School of Coimbra (ARCA, E.A.C.), a University Degree in Sculpture, a Post-graduation in Aesthetical Communication and a Master’s Degree in Visual Arts in the University School of Arts in Coimbra (ARCA, E.U.A.C.). He has held exhibitions individually since 2000 and his work has a central role in public space and it can be seen in public collections and in some of the most privileged private ones nationally and internationally (with emphasis on collections in Spain and Cuba). He is an awarded artist and his works result from a surreal imagination and they amaze us both technically and by inviting us to build dreams creatively. Pedro Figueiredo’s sculpting art, although it is figurative, it deviates from the representation of reality, taking us to a universe of feelings or circumstances where the associations are free. His sculpture is partly conceptual, even if concept is not his creative focus. His sculpted bodies (human in form) are searches for concepts which the artist partially reveals through the titles of the pieces, and they are either mystical and mysterious, or they are easily related to the way we see. By turning to simplicity, disproportion and distortion, he offers us figures which are too vertical or too horizontal, and have feet or hands which stand out from the rest because of a huge and somewhat primitive presence. His works are mainly made of polyester resin, brass and ceramic gas. João Mendes Rosa and an excerpt of “tecido vago doutras horas” (‘vague tissue from another time’) can be seen in his works. In fact, it is from a João Mendes Rosa’s speech, who is also the director of Guarda’s Regional Museum, that some of the words which tell the story of the artist were taken.
Raúl Ferreira (born 1975) holds a University Degree by the Fine Arts Faculty of Porto and he combines his activity as a visual artist with teaching. He has held exhibitions since the 1990s, both individually and collectivelly. In the series ‘Avesso’ (‘Averse’), as the artist himself states, he reveals his dissatisfaction with the traditional boundaries of paintwork. From that dissatisfaction a set of unstable and constantly unbalanced objects arise, where the revelation of the most traditional construction methods survives. His monochrome and almost neutral paintwork aims to emphasise the ritual of constructing/deconstructing. The canvas is broken, cut and folded in a performance which tries to find another narrative, another identity, its place. His work is based on Miguel Torga (1907-1995) and of what also survived from “Ignoto”. His sui generis choice is connected to his modesty and profile.
As Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1990) once said, we have art so that we won’t die of truth. This time, artists and poets save us from daily rawness. The forms which integrate this exhibition are thus poetic for, as it has been previously said, the writing of some poetry (and some prose) has been linked to the works of the artists we had already wished for, the artists we had already chosen. Going back to Croce and summing up with his words: art is a true synthesis, firstly aesthetic, of feeling and image in intuition, from which one can repeat that emotion without image is blind and image without emotion is empty.8
1 ALMEIDA, Onésimo Teotónio – A Obsessão da Portugalidade (The Obsession of ‘Portugality’). Lisboa: Quetzal Editores, 2017. Pages 245 e 246.
2 ADORNO, Theodor W. – Teoria Estética (Theory of Aesthetics). Lisboa: Editions 70, 2008 (2nd edition). Page 59.
3 SARDO, Delfim – O Exercício Experimental da Liberdade: Dispositivos da arte no século XX (Trial Exercise of Freedom: Art Devices in the 20th century). Lisboa: Orfeu Negro, 2017. Pages 140 and 143.
4 CROCE, Benedetto – Breviário de Estética (Breviary on Aesthetics). Lisboa: Editions 70, 2008. Page 71.
5 ADORNO, Theodor W. – Teoria Estética (Theory of Aesthetics). Lisboa: Editions 70, 2008 (2nd edition). Page 181.
6 BARILLI, Renato – Curso de Estética (Aesthetics Course). Lisboa: Editorial Estampa, 1994. Pages 67 e 68.
7 ADORNO, Theodor W. – Teoria Estética (Theory of Aesthetics). Lisboa: Editions 70, 2008 (2nd edition). Pages 57 and 58.
8 CROCE, Benedetto – Breviário de Estética (Breviary on Aesthetics). Lisboa: Editions 70, 2008. Page 38.