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Campo/Contracampo, by José Pedro Croft

Six painted steel plates, organized in two triptychs, are in the old refectory of the Convento de Santa Clara-a-Nova, Coimbra. They are colossal pieces, which slowly crush us in the relationship with the human body and the punctually absent colour, occupied or united with the real.

In the text of the exhibition by Carlos Antunes, director of Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra, the institution makes its first international co-production of the Anozero Biennial, the artist José Pedro Croft, author of the work, is quoted in a 2001 interview: “The work of art is an object of passage and our life is also a passage”. Passage is a sine qua non condition for the structure of the situation, where the crossing with this work can result in an epiphany or some other transcendence. Going back to the room, Carlos Antunes says that José Pedro Croft extracts from Minimalism the “economy of means” and from Arte Povera “the possibility of the object”. More than the “economy of means” extracted from minimalism, José Pedro Croft creates here the almost total ambience of that movement.

As I said before, the situation is created by the moving body of the spectator, who materializes the sculpture and reveals its hidden anthropomorphism – it is another possibility, bigger than us. These, rather than sculptures, are presences (cf. Tony Smith) of a perfect example of experience as an object. These pieces appear on the way, they are obstacles to the straight line, and proposals of other lines that, intercepting or not, suggest new possibilities of experiencing the space. We need to disobey the body’s normal movement to make them exist. And, with all this, where our body is responsible for activation, we need to speak of theatre, of minimalism, of Michael Fried. Above all, we must go against Gestalt’s logic, unblocking the occultism of these metallic and geometric presences, assuming their inclusion in the world, to understand that better.

Inaugurated on 19 September, José Pedro Croft’s Campo/Contracampo can be visited until 30 December 2020.

Daniel Madeira (Coimbra, 1992) has a BA in Art Studies from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Coimbra and a MA in Curatorial Studies from the College of Arts at the same institution. He has been leading the Exhibition Space and Education Project of the Águeda Arts Centre since 2018.

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