On the position in space as a time measurement

Text by João Silvério, accompanying the solo exhibition The idea of returning, Galeria Quadrado Azul, Lisbon, Portugal, 2022.

“The idea of returning” is an exhibition that can be understood as an essay on painting and how it can problematize its gesture, and therefore the body, in two sequential moments: in its precedence and in its absence. Luísa Jacinto confronts us with surfaces, processes and devices that, without intending to inventory the mechanisms of perception, develop different visual relations in the space and time to which the viewer is subject to, in the presence of the artworks. The title, of poetic and literary nature, refers to an idea of transience as a speculative moment, and therefore dialectic, that unfolds between possibility and memory. “The idea of returning” also reveals itself through a more introspective positioning, alongside the artist’s most recent formal and conceptual experiences, like the exhibition presented in Madrid under the title “The morning will not be different from the night”. In both exhibition titles, in the present and in the previous one, the idea of time refers to an undefined desire of a possible return, corresponding with the undifferentiated replication of morning and sunset, alluding to a subjective psychological state – a transitory, perhaps hypothetical but admittedly a fictional one.

In this process, there’s a procedure that interposes, without becoming an opposition, on the one hand, the gesture which draws and arranges the pictorial matters in the construction of a balanced chromatic pallet and, on the other, subjecting the pictorial image to a mechanical sweep that deconstructs the thickness of the paint on canvas into translucent screens, like veils that receive the image without the gesture confirming its deposit. Those screens, like windows, seem to transit, to pass on or go through the gaze, as if the viewer was in a time capsule, even if only for a brief moment, facing the painting surface or going through it into the unfolding space where we find ourselves. In this manner, the exhibition is built upon a dialogic relation that comprehends the architecture of the space, a practice that the artist’s work has been examining through installations that tend towards a sculptural assumption, and which, in the present exhibition, return to the rectangular surface format – to the structural frame where the cotton fabric is stretched, in a supportive relation of the painted image. Or not, as a part of the exhibited artworks is mounted on a kind of a stainless steel stretcher, which allows the viewer to go through the support, in the sense that its material condition is, on the one hand, close to a photographic emulsion, and on the other hand, it is also diaphanous enough to be framed in a new way, into the screen field. Both the background wall and, in a more radical way, the exhibition space, are transformed into visual breaks, resembling a multiplicity of images in movement, in a whole perpetual movement.

In this context, where the observer’s body is subject to doubt the apparent diversity of frames and images, some present in the more dense canvas paintings which are marked by the hands movement, and others that are simultaneously in accordance with the colour palette that is analogous in all the works. An idea of a suspended painting blends with its opposite to reveal a fake reverse, obscuring the observer’s experience with the paradox of the translucent transition: in front or on the back side of the frame?

In this regard, Luísa Jacinto plays with the observer’s body and with the conditions of its perception possibilities. By drawing a new architecture in the gallery space, which does not intend to direct the observer through it, but rather, before any movement, proposing a reconfiguration of the measured time concept, that under a phenomenological perspective gets intermittently closer to a state of apnea, through the landscape paintings and all the possible images that roam the screens. Her installation generates an apparent movement in the room, revealing subtle traces of its ways of doing, its construction, like thin white cracks that oscillate in kinetics modulation. Like an idea, or a record, of its previous condition.

João Silvério