Três linhas, um canto vezes quatro. E uma paisagem. [Three lines, a corner times four. And a landscape.] – Susanne S. D. Themlitz at Galeria Vera Cortês

It is important to recall the thesis of the end of painting, the one that is born and reborn, again and again, reaffirming its constructive potential. Surely, it carries the creative gesture that is denied to it, starting with the fatalistic nature of its own designation. After all, the thesis of the end of painting always points, with every new relaunch, in the direction of the exhaustion of a certain painting doctrine, not exactly in the direction of its absolute extinction. Given that the discourse on the death of painting has contributed to its resuscitation, promoting a new perspective on itself and thus ensuring its survival.

Behold, still here, the painting. In fact, it cannot and has no reason to perish. It happens that painting resists even after painting, beyond any and every painting, not necessarily – but even if it is – painted. Themlitz also works on canvas but thinks about painting beyond its thickness – or the one that is often assigned to it. That is to say that she unfolds it beyond the plane, contrary to Greenberg’s judgment. Three lines, a corner times four. And a landscape. Again, that picturality which transcends a two-dimensionality, that surpasses the principle of flatness. At most, it meets sculpture along the way. Behold, in any case, the painting.

First and foremost, this is a picturality that acknowledges – and celebrates, actually –spatiality: the artist declares painting as an inevitably spatial form of expression – implying, somehow, a temporal dimension. This means that she projects it in space and time, always a part of a whole, a strength triggered when in relation, by means of the contamination that establishes in a certain context – the one of the exhibition itself, perceived as a territory of contagion. Themlitz evokes Zumthor – or, more specifically, the idea that the atmosphere assumes itself as the highest quality of architecture. It’s important to frame, on this topic, the concept of Stimmungsraum and Dorner’s proposal. Since the exhibition room comprises an atmospheric – or even aural – space, always ready to and on the verge of being reactivated by whoever dwells inside of it. In fact, a painting that is always ready to and on the verge of being revived and rediscovered, again and again, by the viewer’s eye.

Three lines, a corner times four. And a landscape. summons an intrinsic systematicity, even when it appears to be on the threshold of unsystematicity, even when moving toward chaos. It should be noted that this grid is not necessarily visible, perhaps it’s not even developed beyond the plane of virtuality. However, it persists in every detail, in the most unsystematic detail: all and every stain occupies the place that it deserves, to which it belongs since the dawn of times, even before that crucial encounter between the edge of brush and surface of the canvas. Themlitz materializes an irretrievably previous correspondence, perhaps innate, which precedes the pictorial act itself.

The main formulation emphasizes the uniqueness of the assembly: more or less subversive, this cumulative way of doing conveys its own sensitivity, inherent to each piece, which pulsates in each piece, effected under a given formal and chromatic concatenation, an absolutely accurate articulation, uttered in the right moment, which fixates the exact moment of the pictorial maturation, the moment of synchronicity. Shortly put, just one painting, a single landscape – the one built by the spectator, by accumulation, from the visual information that they are provided with.

However, visuality is not the only thing at stake, but also the unvisuality of the utterance. According to the room’s text sheet, Themlitz’s painting comprises “[…] this ekphrasistic aptitude of the poetic-narrative projection and, at the same time, the one of visual multiplication”. However, the unfolding of the painting derives from an exceptional ability to sensory and emotionally affect the spectator, by suggestion, based on the hint – a deeply intimate, affective relationship.

“The difficulty lies in recognizing the origin of this visual and haptic familiarity […]”, in identifying the referent of the stain, so different, so distant, but simultaneously so familiar. On the one hand, the confrontation with the unknown, that odd shape, as if lost in the cosmos. On the other, the euphoria of revelation, the permanent epiphany. That thing of plunging into the painting, discovering the pace of the pictorial choreography: an inaugural grey, of the canvas and the stone, the persistence of that blue, the red that pontificates, here and there, invariably until it reaches the blank, that impeccable, enlightened distribution – the paint, the plaster, the rock, always the sensuality of the matter.

Carolina Machado (Lisbon, 1993). Currently working as a researcher at Instituto de História da Arte with a fellowship granted by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia to attend the PhD in Art Studies - Art and Mediations at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Already holding a MA in Aesthetics and Art Studies - Art and Political Cultures and a PgD in Art Curatorship from the same institution, as well as a BA in Painting from Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa. She is moving forward with her research project: «Genealogy of derivative practise: Study on the production, mediation and reception system of derivative work within the emerging art scene in the Portuguese context (2015-2025)» comes from «On the transgressive gesture under the aestheticising logic of the post-contemporary scene: An approach to emerging art practise in the Portuguese context (2016-2019)» and aims to scrutinise the ascendancy of a derivative force over the creative gesture, progressively nurtured by the youngest generation operating within this spatiotemporal framework.

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