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Encontra-me, Mato-te – Sara Bichão in Espaço Projecto of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – Modern Collection

Let’s reverse the route. Let’s start at the end. Let’s start, actually, with the exhibition’s last work. Because the end is everywhere, from the first to the eighth moment of this route – not exactly the consummation, rather the imminence. Volta (2018), on the lobby’s roof, encloses the field of action and marks the return point. A distinct light, supposedly lenitive – which indicates the path back to earth, when land is already on the horizon. By that time, after an epiphanic encounter with nature and with her own body, the return to oneself, the return to the ground. In fact, the body needs the ground, it exists in the quest for gravity. Such evidence, now more evident than ever, conducts the artist’s thought and hand – the protagonist of the story, real or fictional, from which the exhibition is drawn.

Encontra-me, Mato-te (Find Me, I’ll Kill You) explores the cathartic, therapeutic or liberating dimension of the artistic practice – in line with Chama, at Atelier-Museu Júlio Pomar, then shared with Júlio Pomar and Rita Ferreira. Estela (2018), a structure installed on the roof of the small auditorium, precisely refers to this physical, manual and even visceral aspect of the artistic creation: in the fabric that encircles the stellar structure of wood, the artist sews the trauma experience, the path of revelation – not only the distance actually travelled, but also the one that has yet to be covered. Sara Bichão sews what is left of the grandmother’s orange fabric: after this exhibition, nothing remains from that memory. If not in this one, the last piece survives in another work of the same constellation. Grave (2017) also incorporates that same fabric, exemplarily translating the affective and emotional urgency of this objectivity: besides the fabric, the peach pit probably ate by someone close, this familiarity revived in each point, reaffirmed by the needle, from outside to the inside, from inside to the outside, the line that crosses, that goes beyond – or the hunger, the sempiternal hunger for affection.

A certainly sculptural objectivity, but fundamentally pictorial. It is important to remember that Sara Bichão has a graduate and master’s degree in Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes of the University of Lisbon. The straightforwardness she has with the palette must be emphasized, the mastery of that second language, the chromatic way of thinking, the more daring chromaticism. Well, «[…] because I am painting.».

But, in this case, color is merely informative: except for the blue and red of the lighting, that deeply suggestive temperature differential, the color is virtually absent from the exposure. Encontra-me, Mato-te suggests a new picturality, which comprises a new performativity, in the sense that the body is established as the starting point for any operation. According to the artist, «[…] the consciousness of the body has been increasing, […] even more after this adventure.».

Sara Bichão now operates in the abyss of her own finitude, more conscious of herself, towards the center – and all of this because she did not go beyond the center, the crater and the world, when she was swimming to cross a volcanic lake in the mountainous region of Auvergne in France, near Clermont-Ferrand, which she was visiting as part of an artistic residency. Let’s go back to Agosto, 2017 (2017).

X (2018), a ghost of her own, precisely summons that break interval, the moment of uncertainty, the border between what happened and what could have been. That is to say, in another way, the imminence of the end – a vision of death, of her own death. Vertigo (2018), suddenly: a depth that she is unaware of, but one that she feels, at that moment, as being the last. According to what she says, she experiences a magnetic variation that is odd for her, that pulls her down, to the inside, that sucks her as if she were a tiny particle, absolutely powerless before the force majeure of nature. Direção (2018), the sculpture that longitudinally stretches itself throughout the exhibition room, expresses this invisible force, then regarded as inescapable: on the piece of fabric that attaches itself to the roof in both edges, the weight of that body, even at the center, in a downward trajectory, swallowed by emptiness.

When seen from the edge, on the outside, anything is possible. After all, any decision appears to be right when taken on firm ground, under our element. Suddenly, the distance actually travelled reveals itself, in an unimaginable way, far beyond the distance previously calculated: afloat, subdued by the centripetal force of the crater, disoriented, uncoordinated, disconnected from herslef, she loses the notion of space and time, almost getting submerged. However, at some point, not sure when, she finds the return point, a tree standing by the lake, waiting for her since ever. Porto Seguro (2018), at last: a ring encrusted like a shell, the shell, a cotton ball, the stone and the nail, a piece of bread, the lipstick for cracked lips, the coffee, the peel, the cato – everything that is ground for it.

Carolina Machado (Lisbon, 1993). Graduated in Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa (2011-2015). Post-Graduated in Art Curatorship at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2016-2017). Master in Aesthetics and Artistic Studies – Art and Political Cultures from the same institution (2017-2019). Intern for Coleção da Caixa Geral de Depósitos at Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos – Culturgest (2017-2018). Author at Umbigo Magazine (2018-).

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