Four sculptors: four diversebut compatible paths
Authorship(whatever that means in 2015) can survive a collective logic, be part of a broadercontext that is multiple and at the same time convergent without dissipating. Thatis what happens with this exhibition, with an enigmatic title, “Canal Caveira”,that gathers work by four sculptors: AntónioBolota, Bruno Cidra, Gonçalo Barreiros and Gonçalo Sena. In fact, the fourcannot be confused and, nonetheless, converge in a practice that questions atall times what sculpture is, what it can be today, and how it relates to theworld around it. That is why weight, texture, mass, matter and the way theseconditions shapes material presences are common problems for these four creators,that think about those coordinates within speculative moments about thesculptural object and its relations with the material and functional world.This might bring sculpture closer to an indifferent and utilitarian object, likeBarreiros’s beaten up plastic jug, or rise to monumentality with Bolota’s conicalmountain; it can also be a field of debris, like Cidra’s rusty fake metals, or materializein Sena’s elegant metallic structures that close the exhibition.
In the four cases, the subtraction or subversion of traditional sculpturalcharacteristics is not only a play with the expectations of the viewer but alsoa way to turn sculpture’s skin inside out and rethink it in the general system ofobjects and spaces. The way the works are installed reinforces these paradoxes becauseof the confrontation between such different works like Cidra’s squalid verticalstructure and Bolota’s solid marble stone; or by the proximity between the clumsyand minimalistic presence of two concrete structures covered by earth (byBolota also) with the fake ready-mades produced by Barreiros (a metallic hose thatseems to be malleable and “fried eggs” made of silicone and resin). Thesecounterpoints and the diverse materials used, show a very free and experimentalview of sculpture, which the most radical moment is Barreiros’ video in which aspeeding motorbike makes circular movements inscribing tire marks on theground. This and other interventions (more figurative, more abstract, more object trouvé or more composite) pointto the act of inscribing, as sculpture’s lowest common denominator, which isthe same as saying that everything can be sculpture as long as… it is.
in Revista E, December 12th 2015, newspaper Expresso, p. 80.
Tell me who do you talk to
We know them from other exhibitions. They belong to different generations, actin diverse ways within the milieu, and so the influence they can exert in theircontemporaries is always unique. Some, like António Bolota, even possess abrand image when it comes to the medium, which they commonly use to expressthemselves. Others, not so much. Maybe because they are out there less, becausethey rather work and move in the contemporary art milieu in a more discreet way.None of this means that there’s any difference in quality in the work of thesefour. Quite the opposite.
“Canal Caveira” brings together four sculptors that have in common the fact thatthey share a studio. The exhibition, at the Torreão Nascente da CordoariaNacional, straight away startles us and makes us uneasy because of its chosenname. Originally, Canal Caveira is the name of a place, of an old stop in the journeybetween Lisbon and Algarve, in a pre-highway time, which at the time was famousfor its popular restaurants but today is in decline. But one thing iscertain: Canal Caveira, in its heyday gathered crowds. We don’t know thereasons that took these four colleagues to choose this exact title/space torepresent the non-place, a common concept when thinking about space incontemporary art, far from traditional exhibition spaces, like museums andgalleries.
With a few differences, it is exactly what is happening in the building theexhibition is set in. João Mourão, the director for the municipal galleries, madereference to a possible space for the exhibition but not at all to a site-specificspace, conditioned by its own physical characteristics and by the existence, ornot, of the pieces. And he told us about how the relationships between the works,each one of their languages, were modified and transformed when they came intocontact with each other in the studio space. We are almost taken back to artschool, where as it is known, the first and most important interlocutor andcritic is the guy that works next to you, the one that has established an equalrelationship with everyone. And the first realization that comes from thisexhibition is that dialogue between equals. A dialogue that is first not ofwords but of form. And that we can sense in the capacity that each artistdemonstrates in going beyond their own visual language to interact with piecesthat, belonging to someone else, now live in this space like they lived in thewalls and floors of their studio. A floor piece that uses cracked glass, andthat associates this uncommon material with the docile curves that we are moreused to finding in textiles, for instance, can be associated to a shape thatuses rubber, cement, tape and beach shells to build itself, in an uncommon matchingof materials in modernist or, even contemporary sculpture. After all, thisvariety of materials is omnipresent: there is also a heap of earth, blocks ofstone, rubber snickers, concrete, stretchers, plastic chairs, watering hoses, paper that seemslike iron, plastic bags with water, plastic bags with lead cubes. And added tothis diversity of shapes: there are frames that are contorting on the wall, apiece that goes through the ground of the first floor so it can be hanged onthe ceiling of the floor below, pieces that seem like cans, pieces that seemlike buckets, and even nets that are not very three-dimensional. There is abeautiful transparent conic glass container. There are things that will always looklike sculptures, and other things that are only sculpture because the artist decidedso. Please take notice that we didn’t nominate the authors of each of theseworks. That was not what mattered, given that the whole exhibition is theresult of the continuous exchange of glances, thoughts, styles and brands thatwe have gotten used to isolating in each gallery exhibition, and that we findhere in a productive Babel, only possible because in the contiguous space tothe one in which you’re working in there is someone that understands and is indialogue with what you have just finished doing. These are the conditions ofartistic creation – always and only possible in the presence of someone elsethat puts it into question.
LuísaSoares de Oliveira
in Ípsilon, January 8th 2016, newspaperPúblico, p.29.