The international collective exhibition that we now present at gallery shairart dst is made up of artists who explore the theme of the body and everyday life, in languages ranging from neoexpressionism, Anglo-Saxon roots, to hyper-realism, a growing trend of the 21st century and the roaming between cosmopolitan context – due to its solitude and noise – and everyday life, from the interior of the house and the simple expression of shared intimacy.

The selection of artists then includes the Portuguese Ana Monteiro (b.1990), Gustavo Fernandes (b.1964) and Manuel Rodrigues Almeida (b.1989), the Spaniards Alejandro Casanova (b.1981), Jaume Mora (b.1995), Jose Higuera (b.1966), the Greek Giorgos Kapsalakis (b.1994) and the Venezuelan, though resident in Portugal, Juan Domingues (b.1981).

The fact that the artists come from southern European countries, with roots in the Greco-Roman culture, is another common denominator of FROM TH SOUTH that starts, precisely, by questioning the concept of south, on a proposal to reflect on European identity and the walls it erects, ignoring the dogmatic essence (because it is instituted) of the people’s history.

The intentionality of the curatorship proposes a trip on the post-World War II (trans)european vanguards, focusing on the tradition of the body, as a semantic value, shaped by the social and cultural context, through which the Human Being evinces and builds Its relationship with the world. However, we are not living in a postwar period that can be compared to the 1950s-60s, whose horrors awaken the liberation of the body from its secular iconography, becoming an expression in itself. We are not. But we are in a war, us, global and Mediterranean citizens of the world, Mediterranean and European, and witnessing the explosion of geopolitical egos, on a macro and microscale, generators of social conflicts, promoters of terrorism and hate motivators.

In these eight artists, there is not the anguish of painting of Francis Bacon (1909-1992), Lucian Freud (1922-2011) or Graham Sutherland (1903-1980). But there is in Ana Monteiro the pressure of being a woman and being a body. There is in Juan Domingues and Manuel Rodrigues Almeida the taste for perfection of detail, in isolated figures, models without backdrops, women-statues. There is in Gustavo Fernandes and Jose Higuera the extension of the real that becomes hyperreal on canvas, as became the acuteness of Italian neorealist cinema of the 1940s in violent images of mass circulation. But, above all, there is the taste for the image, the beauty and the purity of light in the city, in urbanity, in life and in the imagination. There is in Alejandro Casanova, in Giorgos Kapsalakis and in Jaume Mora the sadness, isolation, sensitivity and depression of postmodernity, in bodies where the expression expands to the narrativity of the scene, to the distance in relation to its outline or to the expressive potentialities of the drawing, respectively.

In each of them, however, the gesture stands out, the textured expression of the brush, the pastel or the multiplicity of materials used, giving each a brand and future. In fact, the relationship between language and the gestural repertoire, with body expression and its ambiguities, is the essence of works in display.

Finally, it is interesting to note the intentional absence of references to the artists’ curriculum (although they are available at the platform, keeping only the note about their date of birth (which allows the generational and life history framework) and on its geography, a sine qua non of the selection. In this way, it is the spectator, without moorings or preconceptions about what is and is not success, the judge of taste, contrary to the conventions of being The Academy, the critic, the museum, and the institutional market regulators. We are interested in this contemporary point of view of appropriation by the spectator in which shairart is simply the space of freedom and mediation between art, artists and audiences.

To see until September 2, 2017.

Helena Mendes Pereira

shairart’s chief curator