Azimute, by Pedro Vaz, at Galeria 111

Émile Zola wrote, one day, that all great artists, in one way or another, give us a new and personal version of nature. The artist sees, she told us, “through their own eyes, and in each one of their canvases, they are able to provide a mode of translating nature, one completely original.”

Zola claimed beauty and, although not more absolute, it now belonged to men.

Therefore, it is as if Pedro Vaz also give nature a new “soul and a new horizon”.

On the raw canvas, he juxtaposes thin layers of paint, neutral tones, a careful Greenbergian truth. A truth that is more an interpretation of nature than a representation of an absolute idea of beauty. Therefore, there is not an idea or a need to depict nature in an abstract way.

Zola, visionary speaking, also said: society as a whole will produce its own artists, and they will bring their points of view about reality, “simplified and sincere”.

A manifestation of humanity on the reality of nature, or a need for apprehending and understanding that same nature. The fascination for the self-determination, expressed by natural things, is the source of magnetism that the self-regulating nature exerts on the artist. Since natural “things”, as Aristotle would say, act and develop in autonomous mode, unlike the things originating from a technical production, which, in order to move, have to be stimulated by something external to themselves. What mystery is found in all these things that move by themselves around us, and without outside stimuli? The snow that melts alone, the trees that wander on the horizon, obeying to the wind’s mood, growing beyond men’s thoughts.

Vaz is not only aware of this movement, he wants to be part of it. He sinks in its mystery. And with this he becomes a conveyor of that message that nature exudes. Going further, he becomes an actor of that same nature. With free hands, thanks to a Head Strap camera, the artist walks as he sinks his heavy boots in the cold snow and, at the same time he plies the cold and fragile surface, he wields the metal of the thin rods of the pendulums, in search of shafts of water underground. This constant quest causes hesitant, erratic movements, sudden changes of paths. The visitor is impelled to draw, mentally, nerve pathways on the white snow mantle, which, in this case, is like a “sheet of paper”. Akin to the artist whom he, indecisively and anguished, goes after, confronted with the coldness of the surface of an empty sheet, the place where the drawing starts.

The hands that produce the action, and the camera that frees the artist of its handling, evoke the historic liberation of the hand from the artistic obligations, mentioned by Walter Benjamin. A liberation that may have started with the advent of photography.

The work, which was registered in nature, can now be played at the gallery, “devaluing, in any way, its here and now”.

Also, the size of the canvases, acknowledged as essential by some artists like Newman, denounce a greater adaptation, due to the openness and freedom, to the representation of the naturalism. As Judd would say, painting is not only a segment, but a continuum. Painting is, in itself, “a whole, and not just a part of the whole.”

Until 23 June, at Galeria 111.

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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