Me, Myself and the Others, by Nuno Sousa Vieira

The studio is a space of uninterrupted constructions and the exercise of art is an extended autopsychography, where the artist builds himself through practice. The result is often a product composed of memories, frustrations, successes and failures, sorrows and joys. It is a silent process, situated in the apparent suspension of time, in the expansion and folding of space.

But the construction is preceded by a deconstruction. In the autopsychographic exegesis – or autobiographical –, there is an archaeological effort of dissection, of change of perspective, of subversion of what is the canon of the central vanishing point. The soul is placed on the table, it is transformed into plastic material, annulling the previous order, remade under a new light, under a new understanding, perhaps deeper and more thorough.

In Me, Myself and the Others, Nuno Sousa Vieira rehearses this construction of the I through deconstruction. He opts for the studio as the space where the maturation of soul and body takes place. There is a gutting, the intimacy and the complexity of the body is open, composed of bones, muscles, organs and blood. It is dismembered and reconnected.

A door is an object of entry and exit. The artist leaves, the spectator enters. The perspectives change. Modernity has reduced the door to its utilitarian reductionism. But phenomenological and poetic experiences affirm that it is not just a binary device that “opens and closes”. The door is the materialization of protection from the outside. The physical and psychic skin, sometimes removable, that separates the known from the unknown, the desire from the impossibility. It receives and refuses, it welcomes and expels. In Corpo, which includes the performance Corpo a Corpo, Sousa Vieira scrutinizes the limits of the door, folding it on several surfaces and directions. Taking Gaston Bachelard’s reflection, who wondered if there wasn’t a god of limits in each door, the artist seems to confront that god and those limits. This introspective effort is a Herculean exercise that defies gravity, that shapes the iron, that exists in the minimum indispensable balance. Sooner or later, it seems to confront any individual.

As a matter of fact, Me, Myself and the Others is a constant refusal of the logical reductionism or the nihilistic positivism that overshadows the contemporary modern thought. It is a poetic reading of the poetic elements in philosophy, of the artist’s stance in the world. The adoption of its proportions as a measure of things and works, in Corpo and Utopia (quote from Metrocubo d’infinito, by Michelangelo Pistoletto), reaffirms that, in this exercise, only anthropometry is loyal to poetic thought. After all, it manifests an existence, a sensitive body, with memories, ways and gestures.

After the doors, the windows are also agents of communication between the interior and the exterior, regulators of light and atmospheres, transparent planes towards intimacy. In Visão embaçada V, IV, VI, VII & II, the idea of transparency is exposed as a symbol of impossible purity. Everything is observed according to a filter that makes the idea of absolute impossible. The mediation that reality imposes compromises the idea of absolute purity. After all, the experiences are varied and the initial contexts are filtered canvases – such as window glass –, tinted according to each individual’s understanding. With the series Visão embaçada materialized in the windows of the studio, we again perceive the intention of deconstructing the space and the work of the artist, in a reference to the voyeur that exists in each one.

The lower floor of the exhibition is an expansion of the aforementioned subject matters. A room in the studio is set up to receive the Folha series, a collage of papers without overlaps. Each plane coexists on the same level; the floor of the studio is cut out and transformed into a cube – the surfaces are inverted in their immediate logic, when the artist turns the polished face to the interior; and an intimate recess is projected on the back of the wall of Sala de exposição to welcome the piece Me, Myself and the Others. A twisted chair, opposed to the industrial and modern standardization. A banal object that is turned into something unique, a silent and passive witness that has welcomes bodies, moments of relaxation and the reveries of many.

The artistic process is often considered to be a solitary construction. But it is possible that many voices inhabit the working space. There is always a reference, a mental dialogue that contemporizes individuals and individualities, mentors and teachers, echoes of conversations that reverberate during creation. The cosa mentale does not imply solitude and isolation. We meet each other, we discover each other, we build and deconstruct with each other. Rimbaud’s famous verse “Je est un autre” must be mentioned. Nuno Sousa Vieira invites us to his studio, with the certainty that the encounter with others is decisive in art and individuation. When Sousa Vieira decides to share his exhibition space with Eduardo Fonseca e Silva and Francisca Valador, with Ceia, he emphasizes this sharing in the form of unique moments of a conjoined existence.

The circularity of the exhibition and the narrative that aggregates the pieces also establishes a link between individuals. Just like a piece refers to the preceding and prepares the upcoming, each person can find in these works, and in these relationships, traces of a community in preparation. I and the Other are no longer separate entities, but elements that coexist in a We.

Me, Myself and the Other, at 3+1 Arte Contemporânea, until 9 November.

José Rui Pardal Pina (n. 1988) has a master's degree in architecture from I.S.T. in 2012. In 2016 he joined the Postgraduate Course in Art Curation at FCSH-UNL and began to collaborate in the Umbigo magazine. Curator of Dialogues (2018-), an editorial project that draws a bridge between artists and museums or scientific and cultural institutions with no connection to contemporary art.

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