minha solidão sente-se acompanhada, by Manuel Costa Cabral
“Perhaps the most important creative activity in my life was not pictorial”, these are the words of Manuel Costa Cabral, who in 1963 graduated in painting from the Superior School of Fine Arts in Lisbon. His professional career was not merely confined to working in a studio. In 1973, he founded ar.co (Centro de Arte e Comunicação VIsual), alongside the sculptor Graça Costa Cabral; Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Art in London in 1993; Director of the Fine Arts Service of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (1194-2011); and the present-day curator of exhibitions and conferences in collaboration with the Carmona e Costa Foundation. These are just a few examples of his path.
Invited by the Projeto Travessa da Ermida, Costa Cabral is now exhibiting his own painting efforts from the 90s – a period particularly important and impactful in his personal life and professional career due to his residence in the United States, invited by the Art Institute of Chicago.
Simili Modo, 1991, stands out as soon as we enter the gallery, positionally centered in relation to the Ermida’s arch, which subdivides the exhibition space in two different moments. “Similarly, it’s related to the rather large windows of the Chicago studio, where I encountered Louis Sullivan’s architecture”, the author declared when introducing the work, the precursor of the exhibitive dialogue, through which he explores imagination vectors and quintessential lines of force when it comes to understanding the spatial experience, in an attempt to represent the very same situation in a different way and context.
Relógio de Sol [1 metro em 42 minutos], 1992, is a reference to the Lisbon studio, through the depiction of the light coming from the space’s zenithal illumination which, with the passage of time, draws a square of light in the ground, which takes 42 minutes to travel 1 meter. The two spatial realities of Costa Cabral’s painting exercise establish a dialogue through the antagonism associated with its genesis, as natural as the North-South orientation punctuated by each work.
The diptych Ornato 1 e 2 [homenagem ao arquitecto Louis H. Sullivan], 1991, comes from his Chicago studio. Through the windows, the city materialized itself in the studio. Louis Sullivan is a relevant architect in Chicago, whose architecture reveals an outstanding duality: on the one hand, it benefits from the technological evolution of the use of steel in construction in order to make buildings taller, on the other hand it defends the importance of the ornament in architecture as an essential item. The pictorial elements shaped as heraldic outcrops, simple and almost symmetrical, symbolize the author’s fascination with Sullivan’s architecture.
To complete the dialogue, the work En trompe l’oeil, 1994, proposes a two-dimensional painting that, according to the author, is read as three-dimensional, tricking perception and giving rise to an optical illusion, inherent in the act of painting.
Between each other, the works have quite different pictorial traits. Nevertheless, the use of egg tempera on paper is constant, materializing itself in very different tones and textures through silky and watery textures, or more velvety and opaquer.
The title of the exhibition derives from a verse by Pablo Milanez, a Cuban composer and guitarist, alluding to the lonely feeling associated with the artistic work in the studio. When painting, the artist feels in the company of it.
A minha solidão sente-se acompanhada delves into space, time, experience, references, relationships, differences, light, shadow, texture, color and can be seen at Projeto Travessa da Eremida until 13 July, 2019.