SER SOMBRA

January 2019
Fundação Carmona e Costa, Lisbon
TEXT BY

In the exhibition “Ser Sombra” [Being Shadow] by António Bolota, atCarmona e Costa Foundation, one can say that the limits of drawing are mainlythe white walls. It’s on the white wall that the drawing is made, contained,and unfolded from two to three dimensions, from the solidity of the surface tothe space. The wall is its limit, the sheet of paper is what determines it. Onthe other hand, even if this drawing doesn’t appear on paper (as the ones madeby Rui Chafes), it was made with paper. It started with paper, before expandinginto volume and materiality, and it is also paper, in the shape of folds, modulations,projections, shadows. Paper that was folded, handled, sculpted, before it was madeinto a drawing on a wall. But not only paper: other easy-to-handle materials wereincluded, like balsa wood and pins.

 

Monumentality and the experience of the force of sculpture, elementsthat have frequently characterized the work of António Bolota, are absent fromthe rooms at Carmona e Costa Foundation. There is nothing epic in the groups ofworks that unfold in front of us: they propose a relationship guided by theperception of the drawings and how they emerge in the space, in their fragilepresence and surprising balance.  

 

Research on these matters had already been present in “Sem Escala” atVera Cortês, in which the artist showed a small group of sculptures. In thatexhibition, an introspective period of research and the probing into new materialsand visual possibilities was highlighted. And overall it was an exploration ofthe relation between weight and lightness, tension and balance, gesture andmatter. But in “Ser Sombra”, we find a new and unforeseen element in the workof the artist (if we set aside his experience with the viewer when faced with hisconstructions and sculptures): an ineffable, immaterial, and yet visible presenceof shadows as drawings. Placed on the white walls, the drawings made with rawbalsa-wood project other drawings. Or even better, they make other drawings throughshadows, gifting the viewer with optical pleasure. When making the object/drawingthree-dimensional, the artist became aware of the influence of the shadow inthe perception of a false and illusionary three-dimensionality and from therehe opened it to a dialogue with that element, light.

Form and projection are joined in symbiosis. Sometimes it’s as if thereal and concrete drawing made another drawing, without weight, ethereal,intangible. Or as if it allowed us to see the presence of a suspendedsculpture, motionless in the air, with its folds and curves.

 

Just like in Rui Chafes’s exhibition, these drawings are also fragile (orone would say delicate, breakable) but their evanescence is underlined by theexperience of perception. Their disintegration is not given by time but by theirpresence in the space, by their projection as shadows. In this sense, AntónioBolota’s drawings, even though they are also cerebral like Chafes’s, theydistance themselves from them, embarking on a research that complements the artist’slarger scale work. The structural elements of this research are the connectionswith geometry and the depuration of drawing.              

 

That refinement is also reached by precise, delicate, manual labour. Lessimmediate, less visceral, more attentive to the folds, the cuts, the shapesthat are juxtaposed to create new forms. António Bolota’s drawings are actionon paper, on matter, and also about the possibility of being an object. Summoningcolour, it is a gesture of composing and building, and it influences the way weapprehend two and three-dimensions. If the non-painted drawings seem to revealonly curved and straight lines — almost like an immaterial drawing about todisappear from the space —, the painted balsas highlight the sculpture/object-likequality of the drawing itself. We can see it physically appearing on the walls.

 

In that sense, we can also talk about them as bodies. Let’s consider theseries of black drawings (made with K-Kline and pins), or the series of foldedwhite papers that develop as if they were music sheets, waves without curves. Theyare suspended drawings with their volumes, edges, creases, tips. They have thelimits of geometry and at the same time a latent potential volatility. Ineffect, António Bolota’s drawings also seem to unfold in differentpossibilities and directions. On one hand, rigour and geometrical abstraction,namely in the ones where shadows are less projected and in which drawings aremore lines and plane; and on the other hand a poetic lightness, almost playful,in more three-dimensional ones that seem to want to escape the wall, tolevitate over the weight of our body. Those frail drawings transcend but do noteliminate geometry and pure abstraction, as if they wanted to escape the wall headingto the viewer or around him, as if they were parrots or paper planes, thingsour hands could open and transform.

 

It is as if António Bolota delicately subverted the rational muteness ofgeometry: drawings appear and disappear on the wall as shadows, and if in theexhibition they don’t actually fly or move because they are drawings and notsculptures, they nevertheless have as an objective to reach the body that meetsthem in the space.