José Loureiro, Priolo, 2009, oil on cnvas, 150 x 10 cm
“Luísa was wearing a blue woollen dress, wich dragged a little, gratting a
melodious undulation to her steps, and her little hands were hidden in a white
muffler. (...) They took a few steps outside in the street. A broad sun cast light
over the happy genius: the carriages passed by, giving out the cracks of whips:
smilling figures went by, in conversation: the street vendors hailed their happy
cries: a gentleman in buckskin trousers trotted his rosette-adorned horse;
and the street was full, noisy, alive happy and covered in sun.”
Peculiarities of a Girl Called Painting
Despite the title of this text, anyone expecting to find any narrative other than that of painting itself in José Loureiro’s
works will be disappointed. If there is any story here it comes from the vocabulary proper to pictorial language, being
woven among circles, squares, lines and rectangles. Programmes of intent, projects and little stories have never been
a part of Loureiro’s desire or thought. This exhibition is no exception.
The Bullfinch (Priolo) that provides the title for one of his paintings (something which is rare in Loureiro’s work) is
not a reference to the Azores Bullfinch, an endangered species that exists on the island of Sao Miguel, in the Azores.
We might think about a vague association with the ideia of painting being itself almost extinct. But if we do so we will
be increasingly further away from the truth of the facts. Here the painting is of today and could not be more alive and
in keeping with that we call contemporary.
The Azores Bullfinch is a being that is characterized by being known from afar due to is characteristic song. Once
again, we can only vaguely associate this with these paintings. José Loureiro’s works possess the strenght of a special
vibration that makes us move away and then close in on them, being easily recognised at a distance, and with some
meaning being granted to their association with music. His canvases have the character of a vibration screen that
wishes to annul the separation that exists between pictorial representation and reality itself, which is shown through
the diffuse aspect of the outlines. An invasion of life on the canvas and of the canvas on life, also showing that rigidity
might be something light and airy. So things become ghosts within the form itself. This idea of the screen, something
which has been a concern of Gilles Lipovetsky’s in order to characterise current society, is not new in Loureiro. Since
the nineties many of his series of paintings have directly referred to screens, printings, projections, reproduction and
The shimmering quality of the level of the canvas also brings a different type of associations with it. It calls up the
new technologies, such as those on the TV screen, or, as in the work Priolo, vaguely a fluorescent lamp. In this sense
José Loureiro’s painting lives of a search for tensions, in which the most visible and irreducible one would be that
between surface and depth. His work, like life, lives off these oppositions.
The untitled canvases present at this exhibition have another vague similarity with the bullfinch that has a strong, black
beak and grey body and black tail. José Loureiro’s rectangles also deal with black and grey. Yet the issue of colours
is only a game fitting the dynamics of pictorial representation. The intention should always be that of diverting the
event of the canvas from being boringly predictable, as if the painting were a living organism with which the painter
establishes a dialogue, in an endless (and often useless) struggle towards control over the strenght of the sensation
contained in the canvas. This obsessive research into the same motif, in a candence of repetition and difference, is a
part of the essential nature of painting, of its mania. But then again it is part of life as well.
As a conclusion, the only narrative that the observer may find is that which we quote at the beginning of this text. All
the rest lives off this lack of a referential anchoring. Even so, José Loureiro shows us, through the force of the feeling
of the forms of a World of the Nohing Freed (as José Gil states in relation to Malevich), allowing each of us to place
all our free interpretations within it. Perhaps this is the contemplative freedom that is truly endangered, in a world of
messages that communicate and command our thoughts. So we should do what ornithologists do, and devote ourselves
to long, lengthy contemplations of the species, enjoying the pleasure of the peculiarities of a history that belongs to
life in its most essential sense, in the purity of its economy of means.
Carla de Utra Mendes