Henrique Palmeirim Lázaro

by Helena Mendes Pereira


“I paint, I scratch, I think”, a phrase from another artist, Miguel d’Alte (1954-2007), born in Braga, also an experimentalist and a fighter against creative oppression. Henrique Lázaro (b.1995) was born in Lisbon, curiously, but he has always been from Braga, having also spent some periods of his childhood in Africa. He currently lives in London, the city where he completed his Masters (Fine Arts), having attended the prestigious Goldsmiths, University of London. He went to London after finishing his 1st cycle of studies in Fine Arts – Painting, at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon (FBAUL), earning distinction among his teachers and colleagues. The first piece of his production that impressed me, even though it looked like some kind of fabric, was made solely and exclusively with paper adhesive tape. It was a kind of mould of the niche that once constituted the altar of the convent chapel, today FBAUL. “It is a physical planning of this space. Only later did I realise that this site-specific object (which by its shape, proportions and texture appear to be a cloth) sends me back to the Holy Shroud. Both carry within themselves the mark or impression of a contact”, in the words of the artist who, despite being very young, reveals an intellectual density that conceptually infects his artistic creations.

To discover Henrique Lázaro’s painting is to confront us with a set of opposing concepts and, above all, is to challenge the closed definitions that we construct daily, more, or less consciously. In fact, to call them just painting is to diminish these works from the enormous technical complexity they carry. They are layers upon layers of matter, oscillating between various typologies, which overlap with the available resources, and which may range from the brush to the spatula, through the inevitable friction of the body itself against the support. We could call it gestural, frame it within the American expressionist resurgence of the 1940s/50s, led by Pollock (1912-1956) or Rothko (1912-1970), but we also remove novelty from its associations, although it is difficult to deny influences and references.

Henrique Lázaro’s works are painting, texture, and fury. After the saturation of the material support, always with a defined palette, there are blows, cuts and other aggressions, we shall call them, from the artist to the artwork and its sacred dimension. New recurrences of the great theoretical question of the 1980s and expressive dramatic extension of the artist, the young artist in training. We would not call it abstract, especially since the author is affirmative when he tells us that he starts from an everyday detail, from a combination of texture, colour, and place that he has retained. In this case, rather expansion in which the primitive gesture merges with the avant-garde.

We have long wanted him to exhibit at zet gallery and, this time, his hybridism fits into the broad concept of another exhibition that was dreamed up in time, built-in conversations and sharing with the artists, matured in the unusual of these times we have been living. We gave him the primacy of the window that invites our audiences and he occupied it, lodged himself looking at the world from here, from our house. Painting is the object, it is installed but it never ceases to be a pure, dense, intense painting. He came to us from London on his (temporary) return home and we are immensely proud that it is from here that we continue to launch him, too, into the territory of the eternal giants.

Helena Mendes Pereira


Find out more about the artist and his work at https://zet.gallery/artist/henrique-lazaro-7459.