With a Hand full of Dust, by Rita Gaspar Vieira

Art works on a continuum. It is not just the space that matters; it is not just the filled canvas, the scratched paper, the sculpted block in the construction and deconstruction. Time is also fundamental; it is the record of a passage, of a gesture, of a life that happens and is sedimented in the things that occupy space. Time is the invisible layer that art reveals and the history of a place is the design of time when clarified.

The measured survey, according to architectural jargon, is the translation of the building into paper, through drawing and geometry. The measurements are recorded in a fast and linear sketch, the idiosyncrasies are noted: peculiar elements, decorative remains, constructive details that may be maintained – with the proportions also properly marked. It is a functional design, an intermediate phase in a long process; it is something practical, logical, scientific, which privileges space, all that is tangible.

But a space is not necessarily a place. The place has identity, an atmosphere, the legacy of time – it is an invisible layer, the dust accumulates by the hours and days. The place, unlike abstract space, has an aura and a liveability; it has a past and a human history.

Rita Gaspar Vieira has a degree in drawing and uses the deconstruction of the processes of engraving to retrive places and make their measured surveys. They are usually inhabited and familiar places. The studio is her home, her place of experimentation. In the garden of her house, she collects vegetal elements for the works; the floor is the support where she pours cotton pasting; the work table is also engraved in this paste that dries to welcome stains of dirt, fat and the veins of the wood itself.

In With a Hand full of Dust, we see this proficiency in the deconstruction of the engraving. However, this time it happens at the Fábrica de Lápis da Viarco – under a residence – in the eternal space-time continuum. The sheets of cotton paper rest on graphite pencils, suspended in time; the textures of the work surfaces stand out in the anthracite gradation of graphite over the paper whiteness; the wooden tables are covered with graphite, acquiring their typical dull brightness. It is not only the space that is erected, registered, engraved – it is its own occupation, the daily effort of the workers, the technique and know-how; it is the perseverance of an industry that withstands; it is the dust of history in the fibres of cotton and gestures – the multiple gestures of the artist and the spectre of time. Rita Gaspar Vieira watches the time, inside and outside it; she lives and fuses herself with the space.

The works hang delicately on the wall. Desvio (2020) shows the beauty of a dragged panning; the folds show the turbulence in the waves of time. In Anacrónicas (2020), the artist captures life in its infinite unpredictability, revealing the marks of the animals that stepped on the paper, with their paws dirty with graphite. Mina (2019) fragilely hangs over three pencils nailed to the wall, near breaking free with the force of the wind. And, in Com a Mão cheia de Pó-quase mesa (2018), we see the remains of the skin of an object, of its memory now crumbled.

Ana Rito’s curatorial text underlines these “contact-images”, which require a presence, a touch, a mediation. Through this mediation or this presence-contact, the artist conjures up time and space to materialize the work.

With a Hand full of Dust is a poetic measured survey of a place – black on white -, where poetry happens in the deconstruction of language and the potential of drawing.

Until March 28, at the Galeria Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon.

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.

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