António Bolota’s latest solo exhibition treats formal issues as a science and articulates how sculpture can transform the way in which space is perceived. Here, the artist fills two rooms with three massive blocks of brick or brick and iron that resemble polyhedrons and are covered with concrete mixed with black pigment, giving them the appearance and texture of coarse sandpaper (all works Untitled and from 2014). Situated as hulking, dark forms in a sparse gallery, two of these pieces resemble hunks of charcoal against the surrounding paper-white walls. One sculpture could potentially be climbed by way of a ramp-like platform, enabling a viewer to touch the gallery’s ceiling. In an adjacent room, a nearly claustrophobic engagement is demanded by another towering work, which appears to plunge in the spectator’s direction as if on the verge of collapsing. Bolota’s work has always focused on having sculpture test and challenge the limits of perception, and these pieces go a step further by using the whole exhibition space as a material support. Displaying a keen, site-specific focus on the presence of a body in front of monumental form and the attending sensations it provokes, physical phenomena—including gravity, weight, attraction, balance, tension, and rigor—contribute to Bolota’s search for a vertiginous and almost dramatic experience of sculpture.
The three sculptures that António Bolota presented at galeria Quadrado Azul were the end of a cycle, a relationship clogged with a space, an excess, a brutal mass that almost left no room for the viewer. Three gigantic bodies formally joined by the inclined planes that determined them, monoliths that occupied almost the entire circulation space. They were impediments, massive things that were in the body, impossibilities. The space that was left for the movement of the spectators was the remnant, the excess, the difference, the negative of the sculptures.
The mass was, after all, not that of the tight pieces in space, but that of our entrenched bodies.