January 2012
Galeria Quadrado Azul, Lisboa

 A polished stainless steel ball supports a gigantic cement disk near theedge of the disk’s surface. If we reduce things to a bare minimum: a circle anda sphere. The circle and its three-dimensional equivalent, the sphere — two-dimensionaldrawing, three-dimensional sculpture. And something that stands before (or after)the two: geometry.  


The circle, let’s us be clear, is not a circle: it is, like the sphere,a three-dimensional object, thick and colossal. Hence, a cylinder. But on paperthe circle drawn by the compass is also not truly a circle, since that circumferencehas a three-dimensional existence, beyond the limitations of length set by Euclideangeometry. “The line is the first species of quantity, which has only onedimension, namely length, without any width nor depth” 1


There is another object (or two?): there’s a hole on the floor that onlypartially let’s us see the sphere — or is it something else rather than asphere? In both parings, disk/sphere, hole/sphere, a tension is applied: thesphere emerges from the plane and/or the sphere rests on the plane. But theplane is no longer a two-dimensional abstraction, it’s the cylinder thatmaterializes the circle and has correspondence in the sphere. It is the floor fromwhich the ball irrupts — or that swallows it. Emerging and submerging, thecurve of the sphere (and straight lines of the flat sides of the disk) bendsand straightens out as a flat surface that abdicates its sphere–like quality. Abalance in which the disk prevents the sphere from rolling, and the sphere maintainsthe disk upright, reclaiming its three-dimensionality in the space, now thedisk becoming the sphere in an impossible pedestal, pushed down and propelledupwards — which also means that there is an up and down and that, therefore,the world can be upside down.


Tension and correspondence. The ball irrupts from the floor slabs thatare being purposely pierced by a circular hole, responding to the curves of thegroin vaults and the arches that support them, and that are being guided byinvisible forces to the floor. The objects shown confirm and resist theexhibition space, echoing it and submitting to it, altering it, ripping itsfloor, and imposing new ways of circulating through the space, dictated by thedimensions of the pieces. More than that, the exhibition room is not onlyanother “exterior” but it participates, it’s part of the exhibition, and partof what is being exhibited there.    

A cement object and steel objects — and a hole. Classic stone and metal butthrough their simulacra: cement rather than stone, stainless steel instead ofbronze (which can also be the simulacrum of silver or gold). Stainless steel wasa kind of silver for the poor (as Jeff Koons reminds us with democraticoptimism). Poor materials that resemble marble or bronze with none of the prestige,but also heroic materials that origin in modern industrial processes, glorifiedby vanguards and neo-vanguards, before and after world wars. These are materialsthat summon incorruptibility, materials that seem to escape time.


One or two spheres? Two moments or one? Is a narrative being suggested? Buteven if so, each moment of that narrative would be out of time, frozen as aphotograph — while showing the time that passes in front of it, reflected inthe carefully polished metal. Moving images. A movement seen in the variety ofthe curves. A light that dematerializes the hard and permanent organization ofthe steel and that places it in the limit of the visible, almost indistinct fromthe environment that surrounds it, and is reflected upon him. Material andimmaterial, present and absent, like the hole from which the maybe-sphereirrupts.  

Someone polished the steel — or they wanted it that way. We see almostno gesture, and inevitable actions like making and thinking. The solution of aproblem, a technical question. Physical “strengths” are there to be seen — but asan out-of-frame, we only see the result of an action. An action without actors.We summon, we show, we reveal what is not there, or that that cannot be seen —or that exists only in the mind of who made it or who is looking at it. The metaphysicsof physics: after all, a circle does not exist on paper.


“For nothing is seen except in a material. But true roundness cannotexist in a material; rather, only an image of true roundness (can exist there)”.2    




1 Pierre Mardele, “Les quinze livres des éléments géométriques d'EuclideMegarien”

2 Nicolau de Cusa, “De Ludo Globi” (1463), translation to English inJasper Hopkins, “Nicholas of Cusa: Metaphysical Speculations”, vol. II, s.l.,Arthur J. Banning Press, s.d., p. 1186.

in Artforum

A round hole has been dug in the floor of the gallery’s front room, about the size of a foot bath. A perfectly round globe made of metal has been inserted into it. Or, not inserted—for the effect is more akin to an emergence: a silver ball of a world birthed from a cement inferno. Or, not emergence—for emergence implies movement, and the only movement is that which is reflected in the shiny, harsh, metalloid surface: namely, yourself and whatever other living beings happen to be in the gallery at that particular moment.

This is the first of two new works by António Bolota. The Portuguese artist practices what might be deemed a deceptive Minimalism that, in this instance at least, struggles not so much to disrupt the architectural space in which his sculptures are installed as to project a static resonance to parallel its idiosyncrasies. The approach seems so honest and simple: a three-dimensional detail blown up for a three-dimensional space. It is the second, larger of the two sculptures that really disrupts the white-cube austerity of the gallery, by bringing attention to the fact that the rooms aren’t actually cubed at all. The ceilings and doorways are, in fact, vaulted. The work is a massive, perfectly circular slab of concrete held up by a metallic ball similar in size to the first, though maybe a bit bigger. Your mind and vision drift between the work and your sudden awareness of the room’s quiet complexity. Thus, from these sculptures’ enunciation of the space where they are installed, a new space becomes palpable.