Carlos Mensil

A solo exhibition born out of nothingness was inaugurated on June 9 at Galeria Presença. Carlos Mensil thinks about the future to develop a work which frees himself from the present-day moment, something which contemporary creators are often shackled to.

The artist believes that belonging to a particular culture and society does not constitute an obligation or social function that conditions and leads his artistic production. Nevertheless, he acknowledges that, in his work, there is something that reflects on what is around him, his context and time. These free and reality-prescient dynamics are the structure of Carlos’s work, which is visually and aesthetically minimalist, as well as complex, physical, mobile and alive. And, as put by himself, “what is a minimal work when you have a complex structure that gives body it and then suspends it?”. He therefore questions what constitutes the artistic object, the things that shape, characterize and define it.

That freedom, or liberation from rules, conditionings, limits or barriers is what constitutes the emptiness of his most recent exhibition, the white canvas, the sea of infinite, creative and interpretive possibilities, which depict part of the essence of the contemporary art scene. The set, which presents itself with a room text by Nuno Faria, has fourteen pieces, twelve of them fixed, equally similar and unique, two of them in motion, triggered by engines. In common, the whole work proves to be illusory, challenging the vision, perception and logic of what an object is. At the same time, the artist’s creation and design derive from painting, his area of study, from which he keeps a similar work process logic, albeit with a profoundly distinct outcome.


C.M. – I keep engaging with different materials, like a painter who does not use the brush. When I arrived from New York, I stopped feeling interested in painting in its more traditional sense. I realized that I didn’t need paint or brushes to do what I wanted.


Carlos felt the conflict with several materials in that metropolis, with the garbage and objects that were abandoned in the street because they were no longer used – but they still kept their usefulness. He reveals that he started to get fascinated with unknown things and objects due to his father’s workshop. The oddest ones force him to get closer, looking and working with them. His unique ability to adapt, restructure and reinterpret materials depending on the different contexts derives from that period, eventually doing the same with the spaces where those materials are present and displayed. Something that you can associate with Marcel Duchamp’s readymade concept, a reference deemed inevitable by the artist. Several projects emerged just like that, such as Cada um pinta como sabe (2015), which despite appearing to be site-specific, is actually more like a visual deception, since the piece changes its appearance depending on the structure that it is installed on.

This and other studies are found in the artist’ studio, in the area of Campanhã, a room provided by Clube Desportivo de Portugal, shared with colleagues from the same field; he was the first to be there in 2016. This is where we see the constructions and everything that is embodied in works that harmoniously emerge, providing a clear and immediate aesthetic experience, but which, in fact, are the result of a particular productive complexity.

As to the artist’s creative future, his essence may be found in Galeria Presença, as put by Carlos, “each exhibition has something that brings me to the next one, to the upcoming path, to the new material ready to be explored”. Therefore we have an artistic continuity that builds and solidifies itself into something unexpected and quite attractive.

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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