Arraiano [adj. One who lives on the frontier or border. One who is the natural from the border]
Paulo Arraiano [b. 1977, Portugal] is a visual artist based in Lisbon. He has participated in several exhibitions, both solo and collective including Dimora Artica [Milan]; Hawaii-Lisbon [Lisbon]; Pivô (S.Paulo); 55SP (S.Paulo); Art Rotterdam [Rotterdam]; Cidade das Artes Museum [Rio de Janeiro]; MAH Museum [Azores]; Quartier General, Centre d’art Contemporain [La Chaux-de-Fonds]; Aeroplastics Contemporary [Brussels]; Petra Gut Contemporary [Zurich]; TAL Gallery [Rio de Janeiro]; ArtRio [Rio de Janeiro]; Pena Palace [Sintra]; Forty/Forty [Warsaw]; Galeria Graphos [Rio De Janeiro]; Museu do Côa [V. N. Foz Côa; Hifa, Harare International Festival Of Art [Zimbabwe]; Cãmara Municipal do Porto [Porto]; Museé d’Art Moderne [Luxembourg], Scope/Miami Basel [Miami]; National Building Museum [Washington DC]; P28 [Lisbon] among others. Paulo Arraiano has also participated in several artist residency programmes, such as Walk&Talk [Azores]; Transforma [Torres Vedras]; LAC [Lagos] among others. He is represented in both public and private collections such as CAC Málaga Museum, [Spain]; Luciano Benton Collection [Italy]; Quartier-General Arts Center [Switzerland]; Museu de Angra do Heroismo [Azores]; Sztuki Zewnetrznej Foundation [Poland]; Pestana Group [Portugal]; Fundação D. Luís / Museum Quarter [Portugal]; MARCC Museum [Portugal]. Paulo Arraiano has a degree in Communication by ISCEM [Lisbon], and studied Visual Arts at Ar.Co - Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual [Lisbon]. He is also co-founder of re_act contemporary, art laboratory and residence program based in the Azores Islands and no.stereo, an independent Artis-run platform.
TOWARDS THE LAST UNICORN
Catarina Vaz (Art Research Map)
If I look around, everyone seems to be in perfect absorption. What is this space around me? Why do their eyes vibrate so stagnant to this portable machine? Do they even need space to circulate? Maybe there could just be individual boxes. I look around and I see trees, earth, water. Is there any water running on their machine? What if they are connected to some kind of count-down and they cannot stop looking at the machine? Can they even hear me? Am I invisible? Is there still earth? Hello?! Anybody out there?
55SP presents ‘Towards the Last Unicorn’, an exhibition co-curated by no.stereo and Art Research Map. A group of artists has been invited to show works that will be both on display at 55SP (physical space) but also online. In these, the immaterial media becomes the message and the messenger for a return to the matter.
New paradigms of lifestyle have been imposed on globalized societies. Avoidance of disconnection and technology equals the risk of entering a system of non-belonging. Hence, how does one not belong, when by belonging we must refer (now) to a state of human absorption through devices and screens? How are we thinking or rethinking the sensori-al approach to the world we live in? Is it becoming merely visual? And therefore, should we name the digital attention span, progress?
There is an urgency to rethink what it means to be human now. And so, the importance of our bodies as the singular potency of creation. Contemporary artists are manifesting the transformation of mind into matter, rethinking our ecosys-tem, both internal and external, as a new way of belonging. The question remains on the viable direction in which to move. As we can only move forward, perhaps this movement means a new ecology and the refusal of a time stealing continuum. It means the creation of awareness. ‘Towards the last Unicorn’ leads us in a direction and that includes the three times - present, past and future. Also, it implies a motion as the present is the possibility to be the catalyst and the kairos. The unicorn is this mythical creature with magical powers, which pervades in our imaginary as something that might or might not exist. It is magical thinking transformed into a symbol, an emoji, a figure with cultural connotations, which still inhabits a thought of possibility linking our present to the past and future. Just as in Blade Runner, the origami unicorn at the end of the movie alludes to the possibility of the creation of empathy in one among all Replicants. The materialized unicorn is the hope of a universal purity of the origin. As a talisman is matter filled with wishful thinking, so is the gesture of the artist that manipulates matter with time, to give it a meaning.
Video as immaterial comes from a very tactile manipulation and, moreover, it implies duration and the time to be seen. ‘Towards the Last Unicorn’, is the last call to the awareness of time and matter, away from a dystopian digital absorpti-on, using this same digital media as a source of communication.
AS ALWAYS, JUST A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
Faced with the unprecedented shift from direct life experience to an artificial way of connecting / disconnecting with the natural world, Interacting through analogic and electronic signals, guided by information that travels throughout satellites, orbit bodies, created by man that, directly via mobile protheses, act as new divinities controlling via GPS data our daily life performance.
A new paradigm alters our perception of time, space and reality, in contrast to the availability of a sensory contemplation. The “digital act” contrasts and coexists with our human nature in an eternal cross communication. A moment in time where matter / non-matter dialogue in a layer of digital blandness, where mood manipulation and the non-spontaneity of trying "too hard" as a mode of indifference is part of our daily swipes, enjoying the illusion and escapism of a post-emotional society, where everything is stored into a cloud or depends on the wifi.
A particular moment where human bodies create a physical distance towards dematerialisation and of the importance of the object, where speed of a post-digital generation dictates time and artificially replaces the natural, contributing for a transformation of human perception.
These entities - satellites - also trough digital registration, connect us in a pictorial way to the landscape, and in that sense to flora, body and skin. Here technology and the digital will be the element that remembers and re-connects us to the the elements that were here even before our physical presence. Those elements symbiotically contribute to drive the body to its ancient basic elements of human existence although constantly perceived by technology.
AS ALWAYS, JUST A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE
In Paulo Arraiano's powerhouse exhibition at Hawaii - Lisbon gallery, he takes on digital life's vast modes of escapism and channels them to depict a synthetic resurgence of natural phenomena, often translated through satellite signals. This repositioning of the environment as forms determined by data and coding illuminates the contemporary sensory experience, one of a digitally mediated existence. Nevertheless, Arraiano is effective in positioning the viewer to instinctively yearn for human interaction with our physical domain.
A flag-like object juts off the wall with a landscape scrolling to the floor in a display of technological devotion. A small cactus perches well above Arraiano's technological representations as a looming reminder of unmediated reality removed from its natural habitat. In tandem, these signifiers suggest a hierarchy of existence that engenders feelings of artificiality in digital sensory experiences. Simultaneously, though, Arraiano presents the breadth of the human will to understand the literal world as it exists around us with the most advanced tools available, particularly GPS imaging.
Equally distinctive is the formally minimal dialect Arraiano develops by thinly dispersing objects throughout the exhibition as a presentation of dematerialization in our daily happenings. The exhibition is efficient in creating signifiers that can be read quickly and are perceivable through the internet, providing recognition to the ever-increasing speed of human information consumption. Here, the functional object is primarily a means for presenting the artist's collections of information depicted behind a screen or controlled by satellites and then regurgitated to online viewers.
The result is an intellectually thrilling exposé on the landscape and its interaction with contemporary filters that limit our access to its physical presence while oversaturating us with artificial and mediated imagery of nature.
SWIPE BABY, SWIPE
Hi baby!!!! Didn’t notice that you were here…!
Well, still online… downloading emotions while having a cold drink.
Shall I turn on the camera? Shall I? Shall we dance? ;)
To be truly honest, today I feel somehow,… Kinda disconnected from the Cloud… (Did I pay this month? Did I?)
And you baby? How do you feel today? Any news? Any new followers? New stories? How
was it? I feel like a complete mess, really!
A lot of stuff happening at the same time. Trying to get it together but need more time. Have
to finish a few other things today.
My mind… A mess… Totally floating. Just needed to catch up. To be honest just needed some grounding. You do that to me. Really. Still completely stuck in this hermetic idea of going on a VR trip somewhere. I’m a cliché, right? Well… just being me. Why shall I judge myself all the time… Just a bland little drama… Anyway…
Shall I turn on the camera? Shall I?
If I only had enough emojis to express the way I feel about you… I feel…
You know me so well by now, but… Feel so changed… Really. Been swiping relationships, scrolling reality, and then suddenly… U.
Not even upgraded Tinder anymore. Well… don’t judge me… just being myself.
Well, have to refill this cold drink while listening to thisstupid suggested playlist. Why don’t I
But still feel like dancing ;), don’t you? Shall I turn on the camera? Always loose Wi-Fi while
looking at you…
By the way… Have you checked that article I sent you? The one, about the 10 most…incredible lists, right? Top reviews and all… Best literature ever!! Can you imagine… Doing it together… Because sometimes it gets so boring that not even I can tolerate this and have to try to find something more interesting to do… scroll my way out of this, you know?
By the way… Checked your tweets yesterday, truly captures who you really are. You have such a nice way of putting things… so deep… so authentic and spontaneous.
It really made my day.
Oh, Sorry, F**k Baby no battery…, wait…one second… S**t, really can’t find it.Well have to
shut down, see you tomorrow right? Same time,same place? Lov U Baby…
Swipe, Baby Swipe presents visual equations about a moment in time where mater/ non-mater dialogue in a layer of digital blandness, mood manipulation and the nonspontaneity of trying "too hard" as a mode of indifference, is part of our daily scrolls. Where the fantasy of Swipes, Likes and Dislikes are apparently possible ways for happiness and reflection of a moment in time where we become an audience for ourselves, consuming ourselves as a brand or product, enjoying the illusion and escapism of a post-emotional society.
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.
Catarina Vaz (Art Research Map)
The paradoxical act of creation comes from a place of restlessness. The body, the mind, and the spirit inhabiting the conflict of time and space. Paulo Arraiano’s work embodies some of the most uneasy questions of what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century.
Through an ecological and minimal aesthetic, Arraiano shows a mediation between paradoxes, that at a first glance wouldn’t coexist. The artist’s clean and precise work shows an apparent peace and order, which hides the dichotomy of the savageness and what is highly polished.
The choice of digital found imagery, captured with advanced technological tools (such as satellites and NASA devices), emerges as a base of the free access to information online. However, the lingering content of the images is nature, scaling from micro to macro.
What is intrinsically human and how far can the technological humanity survive? Is there any degree of consciousness in the machine? The natural fluidity of life has been extensively explored by Paulo Arraiano, under the visual austerity of technological media.
At this time the artist observes a shift on the paradigm of the emotional, sexual and spiritual human nature, which is being suppressed by a remote and mobile intellectualization. We are bound by the unknown eyes of God that records our digital life on a cloud. If on the one hand, our bodies are now remote mediators of control (monitored and also monitors), on the other, we are still made of the purest essence of the universe.
On Sensorial Divinities, Arraiano explores exactly that - our existence and our source as water. Could it be that we are reaching a point of non-presence in which our hyperconnected life may soon depend on gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, animal-free tube saline feeding? When thinking about the Anthropocene effects - extinction, possible humanity relocation to never before habitable areas of the world - one must wonder how does change affect the environment and how does the environment affect human essence.
The artist plays on the field between reality and the digital as a means to archive what once was and may not be, resulting in a dystopian view of post-humanism or trans-humanism. Moreover, Arraiano questions what is sensorial today and how are our senses activated, as we must assume that how we communicate has shifted into a visual paradigm, hence our connection to nature is being mediated by images. In Carbon Footprint Paulo Arraiano, shapes the flowy, almost etheric record of a spiritual machine, bird’s eye view, of bare land, which once was modeled by a life force. Fossilized memories of humanity are engulfed by sensory and watery appealing shapes, which may be containers of the aforementioned serum of life. The liquid is in a state of flow that feeds the shown ecosystem of possibilities.
The work that gives the title to this exhibition Sensorial Divinities, functions as an apparatus for a new spirituality. During five minutes images of nature and technology are merging, while a voice recites what unconsciously resembles a pre-paradigm change mass - “Transforming society and reality as we know it in the present moment, we are spectators of a precise moment where fiction... magic are becoming science facts. The arrival of the internet of things...”
Should we say ‘Amen’? Or perhaps 🙏
Are we creating digital immortality or could we become digitally immortal in a Google cloud of souls?
P.S.: This text was written on Google Docs. May it remain forever accessible for our AI.🙌
Catarina Vaz (Art Research Map)
Are we living in a rupture of time? Time ruptures the earth, establishes its tectonic movements, over millions of years slowly transformed its shape; new worlds were discovered, from the guts of the ocean new islands were born. Nature keeps its pace, season by season, it sprouts, it blooms, it dries, it dies, and the cycle is repeated again. Time and nature reckon duration, with their mutual patience; for millions of years they walked side by side.
The industrial revolution changed the rhythm of production while creating urban dynamics. Ultimately, technology – emails and social media – both as a professional or a leisure tool completely altered the paradigm of time. The time of day – as a solar cycle – became obsolete as information resurfaces at any moment in a global wave, hatching out from our devices without a schedule.
So how does human curiosity cope with this fast-paced mode of integration? How can the idea of being updated and “not missing a thing” be synchronized with the body’s clock? Perhaps Apple watches and the number of health applications are trying to answer these questions, telling us when to sleep, when to exercise, when to eat, when to work. But are they really a solution or are these just new systems of consumerism control? Perhaps these are the predicted robots of the ‘60s imagery. Instead of walking tin can machines we are letting ourselves become controlled robot devices.
Re_act Contemporary Art Laboratory was created in an attempt to address ideas of virtuality, materiality, and time. Situated on a volcanic island midway between Europe and the United States – Terceira Island, in the Azores archipelago – the residency and resulting exhibition were commissioned by DRAC and co-curated by no.stereo and TAL Projects at MAH (Museu of Angra do Heroísmo). The immersion of artists in this island – a piece of land 30 km by 19 km long with a population of 56,000 inhabitants – was paramount to the laboratory’s transversal ideas of deceleration and return to a telluric state.
The result of the laboratory was the exhibition “Matter / Non_Matter,” an idea that glues the entire thinking process together – the increasingly noisy materiality of the urbanscapes versus the vaporous minimal island life, the fast-paced contemporaneity versus the looseness of time, the previous virtual contact of the artists and the opportunity of a physical encounter. “Matter / Non_Matter” shows the certainty that the alteration of context, time, and place is key to a change of mindset and artistic process. Each artist was drawn to specific experiences of the island – geography, anthropology, the legend and the sacred, the uncontrollable and the sublime.
The selected group of artists was diverse both geographically and in their artistic approach. This strengthened the possibility of crossing elements of the insular paradigm and the current artist’s practice influenced by an urban environment or by a postdigital perspective.
(...) ‘Magma Metadata’ by Paulo Arraiano (Portugal) is a hypnotic animated gif displayed on a vertical LCD screen. The artist poetically addresses the idea of the world’s bloodstream as lava – a continuous and rapid scrolling of images of flowing lava from volcanic explosions around the world is disrupted and pixelated – just as our own flow of visual information is disassembled when scrolling through social media.(...)
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.