The >e(c(o of Pedro Tudela at Kubikgallery
Pedro Tudela (Viseu, 1962) entitles his most recent project >e(c(o<, an unusual and exquisitely graphic one, with several letters and characters that assemble, open and enclose the word eco. The artist says it is about summoning the repetition, the replica, while simultaneously exploring the prefix of multiple terms. As pointed out by Nuno Faria, in the text that supports this exhibition at Kubikgallery, it is about using the eco “as a sound produced by a reflection, an indistinct sound, rumble or noise; echo as a prefix: (eco)logy, word, speech, language, theory, (eco)graphy, writing, record, study, (eco)nomy, rule, law, use, (eco)system, set, group, combination”.
This complex presentation becomes tangible when thoroughly seeing and acknowledging the curious and unique installation that initiates the show, in the main room of this gallery in Oporto. As the most absorbing piece, both in terms of the surrounding space and from the visitor’s standpoint, it is particularly immersive, sensorial and stimulating when it comes to enticing the different senses of the spectator. It points to the urgency of the environmental issues, recognizing and requiring greater ecological awareness and measures. The alert is conceptually proposed by the artist and is physically depicted by a horn, whose different interpretations and associations may differ between the frenetic and burlesque popular fair and other disparate contexts, such as prisons or concentration camps.
As an openly surveillance-related instrument, a wooden watchtower is the pivotal structure of the work, a rather unique architecture item for which Pedro Tudela conceived a melodic sound. It derived from the clash of rainfall against a container metal sheet, a sound duly recorded, whose result is now enhanced by the narrow structure from which the sound is emitted and reproduced in the gallery. After being subjected to some digital manipulation, the sonority echoes and grabs the spectator’s attention. The eyes, on the other hand, are centred on the bell hanging inside the shelter, near the ground, an object produced by the artist in Marinha Grande, a place where he himself lived in a creative development project. The item at the Kubikgallery is one of several bells built in the same context, the others are installed at MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, in his current exhibition at the institution, AWDIˈTƆRJU, curated by Miguel von Hafe Pérez. As a matter of fact, both exhibitions are intimately related, not only because they share this same sculptural element, but also in terms of their primary sound and reflection. Pedro Tudela reveals he often unfurls relationships between his works, presenting them as contiguous, the outcome of the very same research, and he rarely creates isolated or decontextualized pieces.
Another interesting example of object construction is what is exhibited in Kubik’s window, the result of outstanding handling of glass, to which are added wood fragments found on the beach, where the prior manipulation of man is visible. By doing this, the artist combines what he produces with what he uses, preserving the physical integrity of the latter. It is an example of a creative and productive action based on natural, organic, raw material, presented alongside a ready-made, something that the artist considers particularly interesting.
Indubitably, Pedro Tudela is capable of materializing and relying on the most different practices, techniques, shapes and images, maintaining a coherent and unquestionably authorial guiding line. His never-ending creative improvement continues to emphasize his place in the context of contemporary artistic creation.
After the dense aesthetic experience conducted by the first and largest piece exhibited at the Kubikgallery, a graphic musical score extends itself one of the gallery walls, between one room and the next, inviting one to continue on that journey. The suggestion is to resume the exhibitive route through the several sheets of this structure of conventional music writing, converted into support for the artist’s intervention. On them, Pedro Tudela made use of different materials, from the sewing machine, with its mechanized footprints, to the graphite pencil, whose lines are as free as the artist’s own gesture. The sheet-based exercise is enlivened with expression, movement, life and intention. It is presented to the audience as an open musical score, with free and individual readings and interpretations. But it must be attentively and thoroughly observed: the viewer must look for the different inscriptions on paper, absorbing the whole, with one last glance that runs across the work at the same pace and energy enforced by each of its parts.
After this, eco centres itself on the symmetry, on the rebatement, using two objects. The first, with two sickles of Beira Alta, Mangualde, mimics the figure of a bed, a common object, the place of us and I, the latter equally individual and multiple, conscious and subconscious. Next, there is a bucket as an isolated object that motionlessly waits for the projection of its receptor which becomes the other side, the axis of the piece, completing it and finishing it. From this form of reflection, similar to the human image, an unexpected and sarcastic piece emerges, which suggests meanings and ideas equally introspective and scientific. The artist emphasizes the process of genetic reproduction, cloning, as the main reference something, which invokes not only practical and physical issues, but also social, moral and ethical ones.
Finally, the last images of the exhibition are shown through a tryptic, images captured in the Azores, on the island of São Miguel, where Pedro Tudela had an artistic residence. The three photographs, of unquestionable aesthetic qualities, provide an upturned perspective of elements belonging to an atmosphere that, to some extent, recalls the message conveyed by the other objects exhibited: the present-day, the Anthropocene, the man and the world in which he dwells, the one he uses and taints, with the endless torrent of issues and questions encompassed by such a broad subject.
Pedro Tudela’s latest work is as rigorous and striking as it is delicate, comprising assertive and subtle actions, languages and discourses. Several objects are materialized and projected with clear-cut physical, visual, aesthetic, sensorial and experiential harmony. It is a full, complete and equally extensive work, prone to different experiences, significations and interactions. In fact, this is one of the best exhibitions ever held at the Kubikgallery, a must-see until 13 July.