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A story interrupts the night – Pedro Valdez Cardoso at the Appleton [box]

Pedro Valdez Cardoso presents at Appleton’s box an installation that tests the elasticity of a genre whose definition is comprehensive and imprecise, just like the very concept of “contemporary art”. P.V. Cardoso’s project is a deactivated scenography, a play where the audience will always arrive late.

At the entrance, a publication replaces the exhibition text. It is a gesture that can be understood as a provocation to the usual contextualization. O filho do caçador is the name of the exhibition and of a small play. A tale of Nordic inspiration, dark and that, unlike the physical work, wants to be equally concrete and intelligible.

The sensation of discomfort, which is clearly ambitioned – perhaps even guaranteed in all the artist’s work – through the installation and text, is nevertheless conveyed in quite different ways.

On the one hand, the installation is ambiguous and mysterious. The blue lighting fills the whole box, shaping an inhospitable space, whose forms are revealed only through silhouettes. The visual perception, limited by the night-time penumbra, forces us to circulate the metal struts, which further compress the basement space and make it seemingly unstable. Rags or ropes hang from them, with objects on top: a boot or a stool. On the floor, there is black foliage which, seen from up close, are pieces of fabric – such a manufactured, distorted nature, which appears repeatedly in the work of P.V. Cardoso.

The play – seen here as an object of equal artistic value, given its central importance in the logic of the project – proves part of the initial suspicions, which, before, were sensations transmitted by the installation. This clarifies the symbolic and sacrificial tension caused by the void of meaning. The text acts as a flashlight that illuminates the immense initial darkness, making it (too) easy for us to escape from a terribly intangible place.

I describe the environment by repeating the exercise I did on the spot. It seems to me the only way, albeit fragmented, to assimilate the forms and the environment that we find. In a text without explanations, the notion of suspended time prevails, where danger is imminent. We have entered a place where we feel we should not be, and to which the hunter, the son, or the deer, whatever the owner of the mask made of a shapeless material, which rests on the wall, will soon return. The dark and fantasy atmosphere of O filho do caçador underlines the ease with which Pedro Valdez Cardoso manipulates the exhibition spaces, assimilating their characteristics and uniting them with his own works, materials and shapes. The word installation becomes too light for the way he thinks and works all the surrounding space.

Although this is a typical approach in P.V. Cardoso’s work, Appleton’s project room quality allows artists a rare and exciting degree of experimentation. In the box and square spaces, exhibitions take place at a unique speed, and each is a more or less unique moment in the path of the artists that take part in it.

The exhibition O filho do caçador is open until 30.06.2020 at the Appleton, in Lisbon.

Francisco Correia (b. 1996) lives and works in Lisbon. He studied Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes at Universidade de Lisboa and finished the post-graduation on Art Curatorship at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has been writing for and about exhibitions, while simultaneously developing his artistic project.

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