Artists in Art Fairs are like musicians on tour

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Last week end week end, Lisbon’s Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes welcomed the third edition of Drawing Room. After the last two Madrid edition, it is the Portuguese capital’s turn to salute the contemporary art event celebrating galleries and artists whom artistic dexterity is expressed through drawing. Twenty different galleries from across the world were invited to present their most notable artists’ art works.9720DD71-0604-4359-ABA2-1B022C06B429.JPG

Paper was in the spotlight and pencils were praised. A variety of artists with different technics and savoir-faire. Two artists particularly caught my eyes because of their technicality, sense of humour and execution.

This initiative was very much appreciated because when I think about Art Fairs, my only point of comparison is Frieze London. In way, because of its consequent size, Frieze lose the touch and proximity that viewers have with artists because of the crowed and the many artists and galleries being showcased. It is like a music festival, at the exception that all the artist are signing at the same time to call for attention. Bigger galleries might have more space, bigger works to present and at the end, most people lose themselves in the visual ramble.

Drawing Room give the space to the viewers and to the galleries. I think for example about Federico Lamas’ Vision Infernal present by Brazilian gallery RV Culture Arte502A4C30-E4A8-419C-803F-40CE64AA0D1E.JPG.

The idea behind his work is to question what you observe. Are you seeing what you think you are seeing? Or maybe you are observing. With the help of a piece of red PVC, Lamas transport our perception to question visuality and meanings.

You might surprised by a powerful red silhouette that hides, through the red lens, a sensitively drawn figure.

I did not get to take a picture of the installation but Drawing Room’s Facebook page is full of pictures giving a sense of the space and scenography.

 

 

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Lama’s installation, photo found on Drawing Room’s Facebook page

 

Another artist that got a strong hold on me was Felipe Bedoya’s series 1 X UNO.

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Felipe Bedoya- 1XUNO

His drawing worked on a visual cleanliness and simplicity but when looking closer, you can sense the dedication and zeal it required to draw his very small and delicate silhouettes and figures. The picture I took was not giving the artist much credit, so I the images found on his Behance profile are conveying his approach very well, though not on a scale.

 

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On top of the Art fair, book shop and editing house were also presenting reviews, magasines and collection books on the top floor.

The event overall had a nice, yet shy start. I was pleased to see Portuguese artists being showcased and at the same time also happy to be able to discover talents from other countries. Already confirmed, next year Drawing Room Lisboa will present its second edition and we cannot wait to see it.

 

G.

 

 

 

Escapade to the edge of an end, Queer Lisboa and 2 films short reviews.

The 22nd edition of Queer Lisboa (International Queer Film Festival) was ending on Saturday September 21st.

As you are probably realising right now, it has been two weeks from then, and Queer Porto (the equivalent of the festival but in the city of Porto) is hitting very soon (October 10th to 14th).

But anyway, who likes to be in time when you can take time to think and process the amazing film projection has the chance to witness?

So, September 21st, at Lisbon’s infamous Cinema São Jorge on the Avenida da Liberdade, I attended 5 short films:

Night Owl

Too Much Tenderness

Ballroom Boys

Matthias

Contact

It has been an hour of presentation through which we could navigate different world, different tones and colours. I will focus the post on two of the films. First Samuel Auer Night Owl and then Too Much Tenderness by  Bettina Blanc-Penther. 

 

 

Samuel Auer‘s Night Owl,

who interpreted Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks into a voyeuristic spectacle at a gas station deepen the later hours of the night.

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Edward Hopper- Nighthawks, 1942

 

A cashier, stuck in boredom and infatuated with the articles of the shop, seemed to perform a ritual of worship in a intensely sexual licking scene after exploding a pot of chocolate cream. As the time passed, the cashier noticed that beyond the glass window, on the outside of the confinement of his little shop, an intriguing dance is happening on the parking. A motorcyclist and a transvestite sneak into the bathroom to have anonymous sex. The cashier will sneak outside to peep through the cubicle’s door gap. They know they are watched but will eventually close the door to finish their business. 

 

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Night Owl

Back at the shop, the front door is locked and the transvestite is dressed back as a man and goes in the shop to give the cashier money and leave back in his car.

I had not give much thought while watching. It seemed to be a depiction of a simple event within the limit of a gas station. With some distance, and exposing the above description, I come to understand, or have an idea about the relation between Auer’s short film and Hopper’s painting. 

In Hopper’s painting, the viewer is situated in the street and is observing people sitting and working in late night dinner in a urbanised location. We, as viewer, are assisting to the scene too. The contrast of the luminous inside and the night falling on the outside just emphasises the intrigues of the people in the dinner. In Auer’s short film, we have the opposite happening. We are observers of the mysterious darkness and the events that are happening of the outside. Like the cashier, we are trying to perceive the events occurring beyond the window. The parallel with Hopper’s painting is highly reflected in the capture of light and the contrasts of lightness and darkness, but also in the inversion of perception. Observing the inside, observing the outside but always in total anonymity, with a voyeuristic curiosity to discern the hidden and to get pleasure at it.  

Another short film that particularly attracted my attention was “ Too much tenderness” by Bettina Blanc-Penther. A short film consisting of 24 minutes of intricate exploration of the absence. The synopsis found on the production’s house website describes: 

Absence dug a hole. Here, we knew each other and we don’t recognise each other. Speech is now emptiness and language impossible. For that, characters won’t be talking. Revolving around absence we never being able to make it enter in language, She, she shall not enter in us.”

 

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Too Much Tenderness

The two characters do not interact through words, nor physical contacts. The communication only occurs through the everyday. It seems as though they are able to exchange their feelings with and through absence. They are shaping emptiness with nothingness. They fill the void with their presence, being all around without being seen or optically noticed perceptively but stifle the space with their non-absence. The film was mostly focus on static shots, as if presenting “life depiction” or tableau vivant. The steadiness is reinforced with flowing long takes as the time is passing. But the utter silence is only a factor of  the overarching climate of absence. 

If this film would be an object, it wouldn’t represent the limits of its shapes but the condition and structures of the space around it. How the surrounding emptiness emphasises  the events? This is a raising question the film evoked to me.

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The two spirits go around in a dull atmosphere, a hurricane just swiped away, or building up at the horizon. I perceived Blanc-Penther’s short film as a slow exploration of senses, as if the visual syntax was swimming in deep water of withdrawal, dreads of silence, oppressing and heavy silences, I was completely absorbed and mesmerised by the hanging troubled quietude, as if I was short of breath after running. It was punctuated with words, but mostly with bodies in movement sketching endeavours through peculiar rituals,  that would bring them closer but on a level that might transcend the corporeality of their being. As if the unconscious was taking over the rational of what one would expect being a reaction, a communication and then find ways to express itself through a dancing telepathy.

I could just go on and on, the film raises so many intricate pattern of questioning and  I might investigate further, if the heart feels the need to.

 

Walkabout to the Abalo

THURSDAY SEPTEMBER 27TH 2018, LISBON, PORTUGAL,

Upon waking up this morning, I headed to the kitchen, made a pot of coffee, sat (laid down again) on the sofa and started listening to the new Longform podcast. New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz is being interviewed about his work and his process and it just hit me . Listening to history, his experience, being a truck driver for years ended up becoming a writer at 40 years old, I just found him inspiring. So inspiring that today, I will have an escapade into the intricate and very lively Lisbon art  world.

Last week, Lisbon was hosting the International Queer Lisboa Film Festival, and even though I managed to only assist to one viewing, on the last day, there were also an exhibition at the FOCO Gallery. I thought I might a peep there, but as expected, upon checking the gallery’s agenda…

…the exhibition was over.

However, a new one is opening today. Just my luck. It is an exhibition by the artist Nádia DuvallIMG_6414I have never heard of her work, nor the artist. Even better. My interest is sparked. Upon researching and reading on her website, it occurs that tonights opening is the second part of first exhibition, simply titled Abalo I. It seems rather normal to visit the first exhibition in order to understand, or at least situate the second it a wider context. My luck did give any thing because I was stranded in front of a closed gallery. Well another day.

Abalo II was a delightfully painful installation. Upon entering the small gallery, you enter another world. The soundscapes are dramatically oppressing, the space is filled with juxtapositions of sounds, and the observers is swimming in this eerie fish tank. Looking closer at the images hanging at the wall, the photographies have a very repulsive impact. Duvall is exploring the body, her own body maybe but from the perspective of its cognitive perception. What is perceptible, what is known?

A recipe on the wall indicate the septs to create a body, but more in a alchemical kind of way. It instructs to start with filling with water a zinc basin and boiling the mixture above a pine tree bonfire. Then comes the awaiting time of the blend of two springs in open air, sheltered from the rain. Then filtering the water and only keeping the residuals in a glass jar. Then mixing the residue with impromptu ingredients such a new born goat’s hair, menstrual blood, 10 litres of maternal blood and so on…IMG_6418

I felt immersed in a brain in process, as if I was walking through the artists cognitive links and connectors. It was messy, disturbing, the installation makes your gaze wandered, looking for something, trying to create meaning and sense out of the chaos. How does it express itself? It’s the shock, o abalo. We are hanging in the micro seconds after it and the realisation, it’s the earthquake that is bringing up all the unconsciousness to the epidermic surface. It’s looking for a way out, it’s trying to find a way to materialise, to understand what is a body, a ritual to make it out, arising the demons that have been sleeping.IMG_6417

Nádia Duvall informed me that a third part is coming, maybe we will see the materialisation of the shock on corporeal level? The mental chaos of the installation make me look forward to discover how the shock will be discovered on a more corporeal level. IMG_6423