Solo exhibition at Artworks, Alvalade, Lisbon, Portugal
in partnership with AiR351
text accompanying the exhibition by Marta Mestre
"There was a moment," Luísa Jacinto says, "when I understood that I didn't just want to make beautiful surfaces, but to face vertigo, an accident. It's like a distancing game where I try not to give everything at first. There is a certain risk, but also a certain reckoning”.
We are in the artist's small studio in the centre of Lisbon. The sun is shining, it is October and the new works that will be part of the next exhibition are piling up. The metal plates seem to be in a kind of limbo, between improvising and finishing, something that is halfway to another, and which Luísa Jacinto will later synthesize with the expression "calling material to life". A dialogue between space, perception, and painting is what the artist pursues. The front and back of representation interest her in the same way.
The title she chose is absolutely appropriate! Véu-pedra (Stone-Veil), with a hyphen, it is a play-on-words, rubbing together, an enigma spoken through the mouth of a sphinx. What really matters here is not exactly interpreting whether the veil is made of stone, whether the stone is like a veil that conceals. All that matters is the image, the thick evanescence of a metaphor. It is also a title which stresses the cognitive magnitude of materials, where colour and texture withhold the artist's gesture becoming independent forms of existence.
Luísa Jacinto’s projecting of the entire exhibition in an ambivalent way, as the title suggests, makes perfect sense, because it is the very practice of painting that she seeks to stress. The metal plates were worked on as if canvasses: first "attacked", then painted, and afterwards straightened by powerful calender and bending machines as basis for consecutive pictorial interventions ("It's a lot of torture for a metal plate", she recalls in an interview). Still, what we call "painting" is, strictly speaking, an alchemy of pigment work (cadmium, iridescence, brown, cobalt), something betwixt spraying and decanting.
We are therefore precisely in contemporary painting territory, where the "old" machinery for representing the world is no longer worthy, or, as Isabelle Graw writes, "where painting abandons its former home - which was the image on the canvas - and becomes omnipresent in other forms of art."
I am intrigued by the future developments of the Véu-pedra/Stone-Veil exhibition. At some point in our conversation we turn our attention to the very white squares, resembling vinyl stickers, which Luísa Jacinto painted on top of some metal plates. We contemplate them as independent, intriguing figures... and I can look at them through the eyes of João Miguel Fernandes Jorge, author of a wonderful text about the artist.
Therefore, I interpret art as an endless network of meanings, communicating different historic eras. Actually, the snail in The Annunciation by Francesco del Cossa (c. 1470-72), which later enters a memorable text by Louis Marin, comes to mind. A strange, yet obvious, association because just like the gastropod mollusc in the painting by Ferrara, these little white squares are made to question the status of representation. Painted over the painting, but not in the painting, they seem to be closer to us and therefore less integrated inside the painting. I would also add that they undo our credulity ("it's all folks"), thus avoiding the fundamental mimetic gesture.
Luísa Jacinto's thought invites us to instigating interpretations, and perhaps the artist does not agree with me, but I would like to end by stressing that the (in)significant white squares bring an openness. They indicate a path. A painting that opens up to new means? Self-referentiality? Yes, if in this we are able to see the ways in which painting addresses its own discourse. In Luísa Jacinto's case, always a space between ambivalence, concealment and poetry.
2019, October, Lisbon
All images © Bruno Lança/Artworks