Visiting the studio of Sérgio Fernandes

The opening of the exhibition um blue is just a little more than a month away, scheduled for 19 May in the Centro de Artes e Cultura de Ponte de Sor, and so the artist Sérgio Fernandes opened the door of his studio to reveal the genesis, the first strokes and oil pigments that get together on the canvases and which constitute his more recent series of works.

This was an opportunity to see the beginning of what will undoubtedly be a consistent, solid, aesthetic and visually captivating work, deeply in tune with what the artist has been building in recent years. His production is determined by a specific personality and an equally unique essence, as well as strong formal and aesthetic lines that remain in place, even in spite of the transfer and transition between colours, tones and different visual intensities.

His pieces, as Sérgio explains, “in a first approach appear to be monochrome paintings but they never were as a whole”. They are objects with their “own will,” and that is why the artist wants to give them time to reveal themselves, both during the conception, building and implementation process and the moment they are displayed and welcomed by the viewer.

Everything that Sérgio produces is precisely born from a constant attention that he has for certain details.

SF – I have always been very appreciative of the details of things, whatever those are. I have been paying attention, since my childhood years, to certain things like the sunlight, how it shines on objects, on the matter and how shadows and such things appear. I remember sitting for hours, just seeing life passing by me, looking at the sky and finding those moments fascinating. Deep down, to me, is like being in the world and being part of it.

When questioned about being depicted as a painter, unlike many contemporary artists who avoid this terminology, seeing it as restrictive and confining, Sérgio assumes it. With humbleness, acknowledging the immense value associated with the unique designation of the word artist, with the immensity that it carries, he clarifies that, indeed, he never sought or intended to be anything but a painter. At the same time, this does not prevent him to reach other fields, such as drawing or the assemblage.

Based in Lisbon, he is the owner of this studio since 2014, in a floor he shares with nine other artists. His working area is individual, allowing the art that is born in it to exist in its own reality, the one of pure enchantment and indescribability.

SF – The area is very important, because everything emanates from it.

CB – And is this your space of reflection and conception, where the first moments of your artistic creation unfurl, or, rather where you find yourself with the brush, the ink and canvas, materializing what you have previously idealized?

SF – Both. I’m very disciplined, I’m in the studio every day, for at least six hours. During that period, I’m producing or just observing what I have done already. I need to be daily surrounded by what is mine, in order to think and see the path ahead. However, a lot happens outside of it. One needs to see new things and be available to absorb as much as possible. If you stay only in the studio, the job can start to repeat itself or get exhausting.

Between the absolute contemplative freedom and, in parallel, the interpretation that may be suggested by the several titles of the works, important and understood by Sérgio as some kind of auras, it is up to the viewer to conduct their own experience. This therefore may be essentially visual, or, in accordance with the artist’s standpoint, reflect a combination and relationship between nostalgia, memories, times, lights and colours.

Like it is said at the end of the poem “um beijo” of Ana Cristina César, a paramount reference, it is revealed an exhibition that was built “always in blue, but it was a happy blue.”

Constança Babo (Porto, 1992) has a PhD in Media Art and Communication from Universidade Lusófona. Her research focuses on new media arts and curatorship. She has a master's degree in Art Studies - Art Theory and Criticism from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto and a degree in Visual Arts - Photography from the Porto School of Art. She has published scientific articles and critical texts. She was a research fellow in the international project Beyond Matter, at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe, and was a researcher at Tallinn University, in the MODINA project.

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