“Listening to the waters” in the works of the Schneider Collection and of Portuguese artists

You still have time to pay a visit to the exhibitions at the Money Museum (Museu do Dinheiro) and the East Turret (Torreão Nascente), which establish a dialogue through a suggestive title. Organized in different thematic nuclei, with Paulo Pires do Vale as curator, we find contemporary works made by 35 artists, 20 of those from the F. Schneider Collection, who have won the contest Talents Contemporains, exhibited for the first time outside of France, from 15 Portuguese creators of the Gulbenkian Foundation; Serralves and FCC. Journeys of discovery, shipwrecks, original myths, plasticity and the passage of time were the main themes.

All the places were properly studied, as they provide an adequate dimensioning, with both located near the water element, next to the river, within a formal changeability. The architecture embeds and unfurls the whole complexity of the subject matter, perfectly embracing the work developed around a deep journey, as the waters move back and forth in a self-contradictory movement.

The water shapes the world and the latter is shaped by it, in a pre-declared double-edge action. The water itself is shapeless, it bifurcates and blazes new paths, in a construction/destruction course; it kills or saves lives, it cleanses or pollutes, but remains perennial. In a constant motion, it adapts itself to the volumes found on its way, without beginning or end.

The exhibition is focused on this paradoxical trait of water, in a narrative on its materiality and symbolism, drenched in human values, a “source of danger”, but also of “hope”, a link between the meaning of life and death. It is a comprehensive field that dedicates itself to the artistic practice in a mishmash of solutions, empathetically finding a heterogeneous audience. Listening to the waters produces a double meaning, the one of revisiting and appealing to the sound of the waters, the steady wave pounding amid a placid or restless sea.

“The exhibition prompt us to jump into the current, aware that we are already on-board.”

On the 1st floor of the East Turret, the Of Time cycle distinguishes itself with two studies of strong plasticity: E. Konovalova’s installation of a carpet made of pebbles displayed in a strict design, from the largest to the smallest, and the C. Nogueira’s creation of an environment with Crossing the suspended sea, in a vast white area, a texture that hints the immersion of the stormy and spongy sea, to which the audience can only reach through a walkway, with that access becoming inaccessible.

I opted to choose two decisive, three-dimensional pieces, which act as a propelling spring and starting motor. In other words, the sculptural installation Danae of F. Tropa, comprised of two twin works, which open the Of Origin cycle in the East Turret, and the floor sculpture Metaphors of Water of A. Carneiro, lying in the centre of the Museum’s nave.

On Tropa’s, the water appears as a physical element, it speaks for itself, the liquid drops in a dash, allying itself to an intermittent sound, as one of the water myths, Danae, who, albeit imprisoned and lonely, was fecundated by Zeus’ golden rain, who fell in love with her.

In turn, A. Carneiro’s work is nuclear, especially if we look at it from above, resembling a crowd full of people in a meditating posture, something quite emotional. It is striking to witness the visual contrast established between the horizontality of the workpiece and the verticality of a long curtain that crosses the entire area, a plastic intervention in fabric by F. Fragateiro, touching the unreal, standing out in a monumental architecture, powerful by itself, and that was part of the remodelling of the old Church of S. Julião; the floor sculptures M. Rosa are found nearby.

The water element is therefore summoned in other compositions, equally expressive, like in the videos of F. Calhau; its transparency is explored in Mugot’s Mur de Larmes, where the droplets increase in size, conquering a specific materiality; as well as the glassy piece Boule d’eau, located in front of one of the windows of P. Bailly-MaÎtre.

A distinction between both areas is that the works at Money Museum are integrated into the permanent museum objects, an interesting visual exercise during the discovery process that does not take place in the Turret. An inviting theme, working as a pretext for creativity for some authors. Some get closer to water, others are studied under metaphors where the reading is less obvious, however, when seeing the whole selection, in a subjective and refreshing exercise, we have food for thought.

After all, there is wisdom and plastic strength in the waters that we must listen to.

Manuela Synek has collaborated with Umbigo magazine for over ten years. As the years go by, it identifies itself more and more with this consistent, ever-changing, innovative, bold and consistent design in its editorial line. She is a Historian and Art Critic graduated by the Superior Institute of Artistic Careers of Paris in Critique of Art and Aesthetics. She is also graduated in Aesthetics from the University of Paris I - Panthéon – Sorbonne and has the "Postgraduate Course in History of Art, Contemporary Art Strand", by Universidade Nova de Lisboa. Manuela is the author of books on authors in the area of Plastic Arts and has participated in Colloquiums as Lecturer related to Artistic Heritage; Painting; Sculpture and Design in Universities; Higher Schools and Autarchies. Lately she specialized in the subject of Public Art and Urban Space, with the analysis of the artistic works where she has made Communications. She writes for Umbigo magazine about the work of artists in the area of the visual arts who appear in the field of exhibitions and also the dissemination of emerging Portuguese values with new supports since installation, photography and video, where the body appears in its various aspects, raising pertinent issues.

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