Julião Sarmento, Klossowski, 2008, Polyvinyl acetate, pigments, acrylic and silk screen on cotton canvas, 150,5 x 150,5 x 6 cm
Photo: José Manuel Costa Alves
Apr, 3 - May, 3
Opening: Thursday Apr 3 - 10 p.m.
Tension has always been at the heart of the imaginings of Julião Sarmento: a psychological and visual state of seizure and unrest. In this second exhibition by the artist at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Sarmento will be showing a new, as yet untitled series of large, mixed media works on canvas and a sculpture where an erotics of delay, in the exhibition as a whole, is differently explored.
As regards to this last statement, delay exists in opposition to consumption or use and is of course contrary to satisfaction and gratification. Tension is brought about by withholding from release, by affecting the viewer and obliging him or her to dwell instead of seeing though or looking past what is presented. Tension augments with opacity and delay.
In this particular show, Sarmento provides his viewers with works that manifoldly evoke this sense of delay. The first and most obvious sense of delay relates to interruption, the interruption of making an image out and the iconicity we have all come to expect from the artist. None of the canvases in the main gallery "represent"; none presents an image, a figure, a silhouette, a picture to entertain our gaze. Instead, what we see on entering the gallery is refrain from figuration: spatters, a grey-tone spray with an odd coloured speckle or blotch on an alabaster ground, where it seems almost impossible for our eyes to find rest. The second delay or suspension relates to the medium and to the painterly gesture. These seemingly (ejaculatory) inchoate sprays, rather than painted on the canvas, are silk-screened, and can be situated in the tradition of the Duchampian bachelor who no longer grinds his chocolate himself. In these works, Sarmento replaces the evident manual gesture of painting with a reproducible technique - that of the silkscreen. In addition to this, he apparently retraces the ultimate model of individual heroic action - abstraction - with an image that is hyperreal. In order to justify this statement, one needs to bear in mind the artist's process. These works retrace Jackson Pollock's valorisation of the floor in the sense that they depart from horizontality - pieces of paper the artist simply rubbed against the surface of his studio floor. The residue left from rubbing the paper is then magnified and silk screened, piecemeal, onto the surface of the canvas (by way of an equally horizontal process). In other words, even when lifted off the ground onto the wall of the gallery on which they are to be viewed, these works retain a memory of their production site - the floor - what Pollock saw as being below culture, out of the axis of the body and below form. Extracts from texts are then laden, to weigh heavily on these works.
As to Sarmento's sculpture, delay and suspension pervade this work which stages suspension, of an act, of the reflection of the subject and identity.
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art
Rua de Santo António à Estrela 33, 1350-291 Lisboa
Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. - 20 p.m.
Saturday noon - 20 p.m.