Embodying the void, by Cristina Ataíde

[Editorial reminder: Today, 19 May, the exhibition catalogue Embodying the void, by Cristina Ataíde, will be launched at Museu Coleção Berardo. The artist as well as the exhibition’s curator, Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues, will be there to present the publication. Curator João Silvério will also be present to talk about the artist’s body of work. Those interested who can make it to the book launch may download the catalogue here.]

Nota editorial: O lançamento do catálogo Dar corpo ao vazio, de Cristina Ataíde, é lançado hoje, dia 19 de maio, pelas 18 horas, no Museu Coleção Berardo. A artista, bem como o curador da exposição, Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues, estarão presentes para a apresentação do catálogo. O curador João Silvério também lá estará para falar sobre a obra e o percurso da artista. Os interessados que não podem estar presentes podem descarregar a publicação aqui.]

The red is throbbing. This was the first feeling when entering the exhibition Embodying the void by Cristina Ataíde, at Museu Coleção Berardo. And the red is throbbing from an ancestral place – from earth, metal, mountains, trees. Such throbbing is encouraged by the hollow space that the artist creates, both in the installations of the drawings, and in the sculptures and site-specific interventions. The exhibition encompasses works from different periods of the artist and shows her continuous exploration of the articulation between spirit and matter.

In the first room, a large circular drawing occupies the centre, allowing access to its interior. Drawings of mountains made of graphite and red pencil fill the paper, creating a 360° landscape. The surrounding walls are occupied by bronze sculptures and painted wood. The bronze works suggest hollow rocks, while the wooden objects painted red and black are abstract but seem to indicate a dichotomy between interior and exterior, and also a place of passage. In the work Surge from 1994, we see a furrow in the centre of the object, creating a kind of corridor. The curator Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues writes: “The celebration of a thick side coexists with a hollow, underground existence, expressed by the reference to the furrow, bed, hole and lagoon, which welcome the presence of water”.

In the second room, we find works inspired by the physical expression of the tree, its trunk, knots and veins, but also inspired by the expression “of a vital energy”, established in the connection between the earth and the sky by the transport of the sap from the roots to the top. We perceive the void between the interior and exterior surfaces. The vacuum is present again, insinuating an immaterial quality moved in the organic materials. The video in the third room explores this transitory quality of the elements – in permanent flux. Images of the Rio Negro are superimposed by spots of colour, creating a fluid perception of the reflections in the ever-moving river waters. In the fourth room, there is an installation with a wooden boat, whose interior is painted red. The work is a reference to the journey, in the material sense of spatial displacement, but also the interior movement of the spirit and the different states of existence.

The last room of the exhibition presents a different work, mainly because of the material that is used. Large-scale photographic works portray reflections of light on the surface of moving water. In each of the photographs installed on the wall, we read a sentence, six in all: 1.dust of my heart, heart is dust, 3.dust of my blood, blood in dust, 4.dust of my body, body in dust. On the gallery floor, we continue reading sentences in red that refer to dust. The poetics created by the play of words puts the body of the artist in a relationship with the sculptural works referring to organic matter. In a gesture that closes the cycle, the words echo the meaning of the exhibition’s title: “embodying the void”.

Cristina Ataíde’s exhibition is at Museu Coleção Berardo until 15 August 2021.

Maíra Botelho (1991, Brazil) has a multidisciplinary education within the fields of visual communication, arts, philosophy and performance. She worked as a graphic designer in Brazil after graduating at PUC-MG, having also studied arts at Escola Guignard – UEMG and at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade de Lisboa. She recently finished a Post-graduation in Aesthetics – Philosophy at Nova Universidade de Lisboa.

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