Infinite Sculptures: From the Antique Cast to the 3D Scan, at Museu Calouste Gulbenkian

The exhibition Infinite Sculptures presents, in its central nucleus, a collection of plasters from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon. The nucleus of replicas is the driving element of the works developed around it.

For this reason, it is important to talk a little about the material that establishes the narrative, and the link between the different pieces on display. From antiquity to contemporaneity.

It is these plaster models that promote all the other more contemporary pieces.

The plaster is a fine powder, usually white, to which water is added. The chemical reaction first releases heat and then solidifies. This result has been used in medicine or in the simple act of covering walls.

In the plastic arts, the material has been widely used in sculpture. More precisely, plastic plaster, applied in the moulding of artistic forms.

Throughout the exhibition, we found the various applications of the material, and we realized how fragile it can be.

Plaster in sculpture is thinner than plaster in building structures or medicine. The latter is more pliable.

For those who do not know, plaster in Fine Arts can have two types, alpha or beta. The first, fine and white, the second is used for ceramic moulds. This reveals the enormous amount and versatility of existing moulds.

Around the plaster from the collection of Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, we find striking works by Asta Gröting. They consist of the direct decal of Berlin’s building facades. On the surface are bullet holes fired in the Second World War, evoking conflicts and wasted human lives. Gröting printed all the signs of the times on the silicon screens to preserve Germany’s history.

Accompanying the core, we also see the impressive and realistic sculptures of Christine Borland. The artist was once involved in the theme of forensic medicine and found, in 2010, a mould of a dissected human body, in a pose that reminded her of Michelangelo’s Pietá. In the gallery space, there are two replicas of this figure: one in the original position and the other in the inverted position, looking like a levitating body.

Another work in the exhibition, which impresses with its realism, is Primata, by Irish Daphne Wright. Reproduced from a primate’s mould, immediately after his death, the artist establishes an “archaeology of emotions”. There are two other pieces to accompany this one, which the artist called Sons. They are an attempt by the artist to capture, preserve the inevitable transformation of her children, to capture time, the record of their irrevocable growth. Artisans accompany the artist, given the complexity of the works she undertakes. In Primata, we can observe the vigour of the textured surface, through an embroidery conducted to depict, with expression and realism, the animal fur.

The artist Heimo Zobernig presents a gigantic human figure in bronze, from 2015, with distant sci-fi references, perhaps going back to childhood memories. The humour in the exhibition is also revealed in the masks of the French artist Jean-Luc Mouléne.

Other important works are also presented in this unique exhibition, by Charlotte Moth, Jumana Manna, Marion Verboom, Michael Dean, Oliver Laric, Simon Fujiwara, Steven Claydon, Francisco Tropa, Xavier Veilhan, David Bestué, and Aleksandra Domanovic.

Until 25 January 2021, at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, curated by Penelope Curtis, Rita Fabiana, Thierry Leviez, and Armelle Pradalier

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in 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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