Arraiano [adj. One who lives on the frontier or border. One who is the natural from the border]
Paulo Arraiano (b. 1977, Portugal) has participated in several exhibitions, both solo and collective, national and international, including: "While Satellites Dance" , TAL Gallery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; "Point Of View", Pena Palace, (Sintra, Portugal), “Periplos", CAC Málaga Museum, (Málaga, Spain); ”Atemporal” Graphos Gallery (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil); “1/81”, Coa Museum, (V. N. Foz Côa, Portugal); "Down To Earth", The Dot Project Gallery, (London, Uk); "Fold/Fault", Forty/Forty Gallery, (Warsaw, Poland); "Re.Act”, Angra do Heroísmo Museum (Azores Islands), “G40”, Art.Whino Gallery, (Washington DC, USA), “C/E”, Egipt Palace Museum, (Oeiras, Portugal); “Djerbahood”, Curated By Galerie Itinerance, (Djerba, Tunisia); “Hifa”, Harare International Festival Of Art, (Harare, Zimbabwe); "(De)Nature", Curated By Pauline Foessel,(Comporta Portugal); “One Night Stand!”, Curated by Sandro Resende, Palácio do Freixo, (Porto, Portugal); “LaTour13”, Curated By Galerie Itinerrance (Paris, France); “Circles Of Hope”, Trädgården (Stockholm, Sweden); “GoWest”, WestBerlin Gallery (Berlin, Germany); “Spaces Within” Pure Evil Gallery (London, UK); “LaGa”, Museé d’Art Moderne (Luxembourg); “Circles Of Hope”, Scope, Miami Basel (Miami, USA); “G40”, Together Gallery (Portland, USA); “G40”,, Anno Domini Gallery (San José, CA, USA); National Building Museum, (Washington DC, USA); “MusaTour”, BBS Gallery (Tokyo, Japan); “UrbanLx”, Influx Contemporary Art (Lisbon, Portugal); “Between Walls”, António Prates Gallery (Lisbon, Portugal); “Are You Having a Crisis”, Curated By Sandro Resende, P28 (Lisbon, Portugal), among others. He has also participated in several artist residency programmes, such as LAC (Lagos, Portugal), Walk&Talk (Azores Islands), Transforma (Torres Vedras, Portugal), among others, as well as in countless international public art projects. His works are present in several Public Collections including: CAC Málaga Museum, Spain; Luciano Benneton Collection, Italy; Sztuki Zewnetrznej Fundation, Poland; Fundação D. Luís, Museum Quarter, Portugal And Pestana Group, Cidadela Art District, Portugal.Paulo Arraiano has a degree in Communication by ISCEM (Lisbon) and studied Painting at Ar.Co - Visual Art Centre (Lisbon).
A geological Fold occurs when one or a stack of originally flat and planar surfaces, such as sedimentary strata, are bent or curved as a result of permanent deformation.
A geological Fault is a planar fracture or discontinuity in a volume of rock, across which there has been significant displacement as a result of rock mass movement.
In the fast-paced frenzy that drives our contemporary societies, where thoughts and impulses are beamed by way of artificial satellites and express the paramount need to scroll through the snippets of information that make up the latest trends, the current post-digital, new-media generation is faced with the unprecedented shift from direct life experience to an artificial way of connecting/disconnecting with the natural/analogical world. This loss of sensorial reference and contemplation is increasingly contributing to distance human beings from the elements of the natural world. In this dazzling new reality, the pictorial tradition of landscape painting no longer seems apt to capture the intricate web of new significations emerging from cityscapes in the age of the global city.
Delving deep into the contradictions and losses engendered by this new social and technological paradigm, Paulo Arraiano creates still frames similar to satellite images and plane views by way of physical motion and action painting, reconnecting the human body both physically and emotionally to the landscape.
The Fold/Fault Series explores the creation of images perceived with the help of contemporary technology that somehow both connect and disconnect us from the physical and emotional relationship between our body and the landscape. By capturing some of the dramatic, primeval forces that bring the Earth's landscapes into being, this series highlights the intimate link that lies between human emotions and the gamut of energies that emanate from the surrounding environment.
Impelled by the disquietude of living in a place which seems impossible to comprehend in full, giving rise to the condition that propels us to reinvent the way we both read and interpret it, Paulo Arraiano's abstract landscapes seek to express a condition before the appearance of the human element. His poetic visual reflections transport us to a state that precedes us, human beings, as a reference. And yet, it is by way of his humanity and for us, human beings, that these primal landscapes are wrought and consecrated on his canvasses. Countering the high-speed dazzle of the artificial with the slow-paced, yet truly formidable power of the natural.
WHITE AS THE REFERENCE FROM THE ASCAPE OF GREEN
(…) abstract painting is the successor to landscape, a logical outgrowth of its antimimetic tendencies. Perhaps abstraction, the international and imperial style of the twentieth century is best understood as carrying out the task of landscape by other means (…) (Kenneth Clark)
An incision into the landscape. White as a reference for human action, an unnatural element, the imposition of the urban territory onto the natural landscape. A blow against the living body, the Park (already the fruit of previous cultural actions on the natural framework of reference), seeks to recall the binomials sometimes forgotten within the current context that involves the major urban spaces: body/earth; man/nature.
In situ a white crevice is set out in the earth to depict the human imposition on the natural territory. This living territory, a body. The surroundings here represent a space pre-existing the human being – nature. As a living organism that shall react to each external element. The same extends to a process of transformation and loss of expression and, in the end, disappearing.
POINT OF VIEW
2016 represents the bicentenary of the birth Ferdinand II. Ferdinand of Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha (1816- 1885), following his purchase of the ruins of the Jerónimo de Nossa Senhora da Pena Monastery, and with support from Baron von Eschwege (1777-1855), in 1838 began construction of the National Palace of Pena and a Park spanning 85 hectares. In total and complete symbiosis, for the last two decades they have integrated the Cultural Landscape of Sintra, registered by UNESCO as World Heritage and encapsulating the greatest romantic architectural landmark in Portugal. Ferdinand II – also commonly known as the ‘artist king’ – was one of the most important patrons of the arts in Portugal. Renowned as a collector, not only from the artistic panorama but also of species of flora from the four corners of the world (Nordic forests, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Brazil and...), he transformed Sintra from a rural landscape with only low level tree coverage into the lush scenario that we today encounter and rendering the National Palace of Pena and its Park into an installation established by man in permanent dialogue with the pre-existing nature.
“Point of View” arises out of the expression Point de Vue, applied in landscape architecture and interrelating directly with the concept of perspective. This seeks to set out a contemporary (but also timeless) vision on the Man/Nature binomial and, simultaneously, a cultural dialogue between them. This dialogue was established a priori by Ferdinand II at the time of his design of a project in which Art/Architecture/Nature were mutually interwoven. On the premise of providing continuity to this dialogue, “Point of View” gathers together, in the National Palace of Pena Park, 10 national and international artists - Alberto Carneiro (PT), Alexandre Farto/Vhils (PT), Antonio Bokel (BR), Bosco Sodi (MX), Gabriela Albergaria (PT), João Paulo Serafim (PT), NeSpoon (PL), Nils-Udo (GER), Paulo Arraiano (PT) and Stuart Ian Frost (UK) – for an in situ exhibition commissioned by Parques de Sintra.
Based upon the historical and conceptual assumptions of Ferdinand II, “Point of View” now endows continuity to a culturally pre-established dialogue but with a very contemporary perspective; a reflection in which the cultural and natural landscapes are not opposing but rather complementary languages as happens with the dichotomies light/dark, interior/exterior, and tangible/intangible. Transporting this discourse into the exhibition context essentially engenders an intimate dialogue between Nature and Culture. This intentional displacement seeks to play with the idea of creativity within the conditions of its remote and seminal origins and thus seeking to feed our desire for a universal language, an intelligible structure capable of spreading a collective subconscious in an era saturated with interfaces and satellites – technological, artificial –, thereby returning an emotive and contemplative experience to the universe of visual representation.
This - Man/Nature - dialogue correspondingly questions whether a moment, an epoch, in which, to a greater or lesser extent, there looms the restlessness of those who inhabit a space in which not everything may be grasped, where speed becomes proportional to forgetting in generating a condition that leads us to reinvent the way in which we read and interpret reality and in which there is debate about new forms of dialogue, human relations and processes of contemplation as well as the relationship with those features pre-existing prior to Man. This also questions that deemed contemporaneous society, controlled by artificial satellites, in which the speed of post-digital generation dictates time and artificially replaces the natural/analogic world. The frequent scroll through reality in the search for “new histories”, in which the reference to contemplation becomes lost, increasingly contributes towards the dislocation of human beings from their natural elements.
In this context, the ten artists work as agents for the re-connection and dialogue between the binomial of Man/Earth (concepts that in their essence are the same even while a notion that gains little traction in that deemed contemporary society) through a process of geographic acupuncture that thus fosters different in situ dialogues with a living organism. In this way, “Point of View” strives to celebrate and recall this correlation and the collaboration first launched by Ferdinand II in 1838 following his building of a neuralgic bridge to human cultural heritage.
WHILE SATELLITES DANCE
In a critical reflection of his time, such as satellites moving and drifting in certain orbits, Paulo Arraiano uses his body and movements based on gestural abstraction, thus creating a direct correlation between the body and the natural flow. The result of this process culminates in images similar to what we see in photographic and digital records made by satellites.
In a context of transformation of human perception influenced by the digital innovations of our society, a dialogue is created between the post-digital era and the organic essence of our natural being, immersed in an electronic environment. Those elements symbiotically contribute to drive the body to its ancient basic elements of human existence although constantly perceived by technology. The "digital act" contrasts and coexists with our human nature in an eternal cross communication. The continuous influence of our own accelerated pace, propagates in a new paradigm of new media and digital realities that alters our perception of time, space and reality, in contrast to the availability of a sensory contemplation.
We interact through analogic and electronic signals of subtleties and speed, guided by information that travels throughout artificial satellites. Orbit bodies, created by man, thousands of them, are constantly flowing through the sky and directly acting in our daily lives. Far from our eyes, they constantly influence us. We receive their information as we also move by various routes and at varying speeds, virtually connecting sky to earth. The coexistence of our organic and digital aspects is reflected in Paulo Arraiano’s newest creations. His painting invites us to contemplate the deepness of the sky, without loosing the certainty of being part of a continuous accelerated generation of "scrolls and swipes."
Embodying cultural and physical shifts, currently redefining the city of Rio de Janeiro, is the former Bhering factory. Located at the port region of the city. 20,000 square meters of what used to be an abandoned German iron and steel construction, now daily occupied by a flock of creative minds. Impressive in its industrial innards, the aspects of a once powerful and afterwards ruined factory, now remains, partly renovated by its tenants, providing a unique type of inspiration.
Sedimentation is a slow and progressive formative process, whose action lies at the origin of shale. This accumulation of rocky detritus resulting from natural phenomena such as erosion and precipitation is deposited on the earth's surface in layers of particles which, with the passage of time, undergo a process of lithification. A further process of metamorphosing, through the increase of temperature and pressure, gives rise to schist.
In the diptych Sediment I / II which is presented here Paulo Arraiano weaves a reflection based on this process that lies at the origin of one of the most relevant elements in the configuration of the landscape of the region where the Coa Museum is located.
Set within the context of the project which the artist has been developing since 2011 under the title Emotional Landscapes – an encompassing designation that includes several series through which he has been composing a visual indagation into the body/matter dialogue –, this reflection takes shape through a scenographic exploration of contrasting physical elements expressed by way of an equation of fluid landscape planes grounded on a narrow colour scheme.
This interplay of contrasts between a bright surface plane and a dusky one, speaks firstly of the nature of schist – held as “living” while buried and dark, and “rotten” while exposed and faded. By extension, it also speaks of the entire duality contained in the, here inverted, light/dark primordial dimension; of the seemingly opposite but complementary forces: night and day, moon and sun, yin and yang, impurity and purity. In a clear subversion of the cultural subjectivity present in these ancestral symbolic associations, life is represented here by the darker piece, while death is reflected in the action of light and the subsequent fading of the colours.
These compositions thereby establish an emotional affinity between both the author himself, and between the observer, and nature, emphasising the telluric forces that shape the landscape, highlighting the interaction and correspondence that exist between human emotions and the spectrum of energies that emanates from the surrounding environment.
Despite the evident consecration of this dynamics, we find no sign of a cultural, that is to say, human, time in this abstract landscape art of Paulo Arraiano's. His indagations rather transport us to a state that precedes, and anticipates, the human reference. Notwithstanding the emotional affinity that he establishes with the natural forces, we also find no direct, clear references in his landscapes. They contain neither the trace of an objective realism nor the immediate sense of drama or the nostalgic romanticism which we have grown used to seeing in Western landscape art. His painting does not speak of lost paradises but rather expresses an acknowledgement of the energetic and spiritual elements present in the natural world, more common in the Oriental tradition.
However, what we see in his work is not merely a subjective and passive glorification of the natural world but rather an active gaze, one of indagation, of a search that is revealed through a refining of the forms, of the simplification of the whole into the fundamental elements, where the textures softened by the fluid motion of the paint synthesise the components into abstract contrasts.
To this end, his process takes on the form of a performative act rooted in the tradition of action painting that underlines the importance of the physical act itself as an integral part of the work. In spreading the acrylic paint on the canvas – through a constant motion that makes it run like a flowing alluvial torrent which, little by little, settles as sediment –, Paulo Arraiano imparts to the very act of painting something of the energetic dynamics inherent to the landscape elements, in their magmatic condition, which he aims to reference. The process of creation thus complements one part of human action with another of organic action.
His reflection demonstrates that landscape and abstraction are not opposite concepts, that they can be manifested as complementary, just like the dichotomies light/dark, interior/exterior, material reality/immaterial reality, individual/universe. By transporting this discourse to the urban exhibiting context, Paulo Arraiano essentially engenders an intimate, close dialogue between nature and culture. This intentional displacement aims at playing with the notion of creation in the condition of the remote and seminal origin, seeking with this to nourish our desire for a universal language, an intelligible structure capable of reflecting the collective unconscious in an era saturated with interfaces and satellites – technological, artificial –, restoring a pure emotive and contemplative experience to the universe of visual representation.
“1/81” is made from the correlation of the existing mass between the Earth and the Moon. Being this last one the Earth’s only natural satellite and the fifth biggest of the Solar System, it’s also the biggest natural satellite of a planet in the solar system. Regarding its primary body size, it has a 27% diameter and 60% of Earth’s density, representing 1/81 of its mass.
We correlate ourselves in a so called contemporary society, controlled by artificial satellites, where the speed of a post digital and new media generation dictate time, speed and replace by an artificial way the natural/analogical world. The frequent reality scroll, by searching “new stories” where the contemplation reference gets lost, contributes each time more to human being distance from nature element. A reality where the landscape’s pictorial tradition seems no longer to realize the intricate meanings network emerging from big metropolis.
Seven artists, provoked by the disquietude of who lives in a place of which we can’t learn the whole, causing the condition that leads us to reinvent the way we read and interpret it, discuss new ways of dialogue, human relationships and contemplation processes. The act of look again to what was already there before the element “man”
To denature an object, a space, a concept is rarely seen in a positive light, as if changing something's intrinsic nature were essentially frowned upon or poorly received. What about a denaturation of cities? How can we contemplate removing the very essence of the urban space? Would it concern restoring a part of nature to cities, or would it concern returning them to nature?
This is an issue that Arraiano explores in his work. While looking into the contrasts and contradictions of the urban space he gives them new landscapes. He prompts the essence of things, the essence of bodies, by practically taking up a role of landscapist, as if he wished to return to the very beginnings of construction.
The construction of cities, their elements – Matos and Kosta-Théfaine are themselves witnesses and observers of these poetic moments and fragments. By providing or restoring meaning to this space and its components, they are interested in removing them from their context, in denaturing their ephemeral character. Matos explores, studies, creates and examines the textures that surround city dwellers. Similarly, Kosta-Théfaine focuses on the beauty of subject matter that is generally ignored: a detail of a decayed wall, broken glass, an old advertisement poster for an exhibition that has been vandalised. Matos and Kosta-Théfaine denature; they are not interested in the usage itself but rather in revealing the beauty and the poetics of these urban elements.
A poetics that can also be found in Baía's work, introducing into the urban space the notion of human being. With her series of portraits Baía offers us an abstract vision. By denaturing existence itself she removes its physical characteristic, stripping away the very image we have of ourselves. Distorting reality and its nature, removing the aesthetic vision that we have of any given individual, Baía guides us into looking deeper.
Through their exploration of the urban space and those who inhabit it, these four artists are playing with it, denaturing it and rendering it with a poetics and sensibility which it deserves.