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Aurora: Desenhos e outros materiais, by Pedro A. H. Paixão

Visiting the exhibition causes a sensation of incomprehensible memory fragments. The visitor is permanently looking for answers to an uninterrupted list of questions, which muddles and confuses him.

But the melancholic sensation and the growing memory mishmash, together with the absence of clues, seem to leave no room for doubt: a wave of bitterness, immersed in a lethal emptiness, accompanied by a painful taste of the past, does not leave the place.

On a shelf, a fragment of polaroid registers a small portrait of the artist’s great grandmother. Aurora Duarte de Castro, born in the late 19th century in Benguela-a-Velha, daughter of an unknown Angolan mother and Portuguese father, died young, with four children.

A portrait nearby, in crayon on paper, La lupara, 2020, seems to reveal some more clues. A woman, sitting on a white armchair made in a colonial style, with her arms on the armrests, whose edge are neo-classicist winged details. In her lap lies a gun. On her face, overwhelmed by an inescapable fate, or by a recent materialized past, are the glazed eyes, which anticipate the fatal event.

Pedro H. Paixão materializes his interest and study on Central Africa and popular Congolese painting with political undertones through drawing, portrait and other forms of expression and representation, such as photography or sound, with the use of magnetic tape recorders. It is a reference to an irreparable time of remote noise. These traces are in the exhibition Aurora/Desenhos e outros materiais, at Galeria 111.

Paixão refers to an Angolan bourgeoisie that, in the middle of the 19th century, longed for political independence, free from Portuguese domination. The artist also indicates issues of identity and the uniqueness of nations, groups and individuals.

In the collective memory and in the social forgetfulness that, due to resistance, gives way to individual sacrifice, were already the concerns and discussions conducted by Bergson, Nietzsche, among others.

Totalitarianisms threatened to standardize citizens, forcing them to an intermittent condition between memory and oblivion. The traditional collective was called into question, sacrificing the individual; this was also underlined by the self-portrait, in crayon, Il petinto, 2018, presented by the artist in the gallery. This seems to be the major concern in Pedro H Paixão’s exhibition, which achieves the homogenization of a society and the survival of its memory; Paixão wants to keep alive, through the sound of the recording of small crickets that echo in the room, or flowers, what truly originates from Angola.

Until 21 March, at Galeria 111.

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in Ar.co and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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