Pires Vieira. Trash – Lixo de Artista

The materialization of a piece as a work of art is often a consequence of the process and not so much a final artistic object. For Pires Vieira, the process began about 50 years ago. His work, albeit labelled as painting, encompasses other artistic fields, including sculpture, installation or video. In Pires Vieira, there is a process of pictorial study that, in Trash – Lixo de Artista, is visible to the visitor. Even the title is provocative. Lixo is a word with an uncertain etymological origin and so is the English term Trash. This provocation is not fortuitous. The goal is to question the artistic canon, especially the pictorial, and our dogmas about the different manifestations in the plastic arts.

While the process of painting – and its study as an expanded and extended – is shown as part of the artistic work, Pires Vieira removes the painted canvas from its paramount place, the wall, presenting it in different ways, including in the rolled form, removing any excess of seriousness that may still exist. Such is the case of Alinhamento Rectangular Organizado (2019), where 50 acrylic tubes on the floor contain curled painted canvases; or Arquivo Geral em 7 Secções (2019), in which 49 acrylic boxes placed on wheeled bases contain almost imperceptible paintings. It is as if Pires Vieira (also) assumed his paintings as a consequence of one’s drive, more interesting than the final object itself. In Arquivo Geral em 7 Secções, the artist goes even further and paints a cross in different colours on the face of the boxes, forcing us to regard the set, which includes the wheeled bases, the acrylic box and the painting, as the final artistic object. In other words, an installation that also integrates the painted canvases.

Pires Vieira reduces painting to a component of the work of art, highlighting its accessibility and making it just another part of the whole. But, with this “reduction”, the artist forces us, like Heidegger, to question: “What is actually the thing, insofar as it is a thing? When we ask, we want to know the being-a-thing (Dingsein), the thing’s thingness (die Dingheit). It’s important to experience the thing’s (das Dinghaft) thingly character” and that’s how the visitor finds his place in this exhibition: trying to kick the ball used in Da Construção da Pintura (2019), walking between the acrylic boxes of Alinhamento Rectangular Organizado, or turning the bases of Arquivo Geral em 7 Secções upside down, trying to better see the paintings behind the crosses. Unfortunately, for the sake of safety and preservation, such deed is impossible. But we can get a better perception of what the works showed in Trash – Lixo de Artista provoke, if we look at the way visitors relate to them.

The whole exhibition is an enormous provocation. It challenges the way one feels, looks and thinking about artistic issues. Sharing the thought of the most recent currents of Art History, which state that we should look at this same History based on affinities and not from a chronological standpoint, Pires Vieira’s questions about the work of art and its creative and physical production process, and also its place in the Museum or Gallery, have been debated since about the middle of the 20th century. Their relevance remains. Works such as Da Construção da Pintura, a large canvas painting and the basketball that served for the act of painting, placed right at the beginning of the exhibition route; and a video, in the middle of that same route, revealing how the canvas was painted using the ball; raise doubts about what the final work actually is. If it is the painting, then the video is only a documentary record; if it is the video, the ball and the canvas are mere tools; perhaps, they are the three things altogether (yet another Heideggerian reference). However, it is the video that makes the process an integral part of the work, giving it visibility.

Pires Vieira em Trash – Lixo de Artista, in addition to the question about the art process as part of the enjoyment of the work, also talks about the issue of the visible and the invisible in art, with his rolled canvases and hidden paintings. With references to Ad Reinhardt’s abstraction and conceptualism, or Claude Monet’s impressionism, Pires Vieira’s language includes collages of everything that has occupied his mind for 50 years.

Pires Vieira. Trash – Lixo de Artista, until October 6, at Museu Coleção Berardo, curated by Sandra Vieira Jürgens.

With a career in film production spanning more than 10 years, Bárbara Valentina has worked as production executive, producing and developing several documentary and fiction films for several production companies including David & Golias, Terratreme and Leopardo Films. She is now working as Head of Development and Production Manager at David & Golias as well as a postproduction coordinator at Walla Collective. She is also teacher at ETIC in the Film and Television Course of HND - Higher National Diploma. She started writing articles for different magazines in 2002. She wrote for Media XXI magazine and in 2003 she began her collaboration with Umbigo magazine. Besides Umbigo she wrote for Time Out Lisboa and is still writing as art critic for ArteCapital. In 2010 she completed a postgraduation in Art History.

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