O Idílio Habitual, by José Loureiro

Between “the cuckoo and the faint star”[1], we plunge into the words of José Loureiro. The cuckoo represents the human being who does everything to achieve his ends. In this way he punishes, mistreats the other on his longed-for path. On the other side, the star c1327kb has a subtle, almost invisible light. For this reason, it only reveals itself in a zealous gaze, which analyses the depths of the sky.

The “usual idyll” is the endless reflection of the strident brightness that hide the faint stars. Faced with this evidence, I recall Calvino’s questions about the visibility and future of the individual’s imagination: “Will the power to evoke images in absentia continue to develop in a humanity increasingly inundated by the flood of prefabricated images? (…) Having included Visibility in my list of values to be saved, I want to warn of the danger of losing a fundamental human faculty: the power to focus visions with closed eyes, to bring out colours and shapes from an alignment of black alphabetical characters on a white page, to think by images.”[2]

Visibility is the opposite of the clarity of light, for it is a human value rescued in the encounter with the faintest star, in place of the penumbra and the subtle. I think it is this unusual “power” of “evoking images in absentia” that exists in José Loureiro’s painting.

Placing the referent in the place of words, the artist embodies the painting. In different shades, the black retains the primacy of forms, the movement that flows in constant vibration. The gesture and the depth of blackness contrast with the colourful and floating forms that appear on the canvases.

In some works, particularly in the paintings Amor no Cascalho e Criatura, the remains of human bodies, recognizable and implicit structures, that fragment into circles and straight or curved lines against a white background, are gathered.

The canvases are an extensive plane that ensures the classic specificity of the oil painting métier, glazes that go beyond the surface.

The movement expands from the painting into the exhibition venue, orienting the shapes and colours in a musical composition that flows with the body itself.

Returning to the penumbra, I invoke a passage from Goethe’s Theory of Colours[3], where the writer reflects on the retention of colours in the retina after the absence of light. The chromatic phenomena would be explained as an intrinsic property of the human eye. We know today that persistence of vision involves the eye and the brain. It is this subjective relationship, which is deepened through José Loureiro’s painting, that allows us to unveil the images “in absentia” that permeate the human imagination.

O Idílio Habitual, by José Loureiro, at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art.


Additional note: Due to the current pandemic, the exhibition will extend beyond the initial deadline of February 13, 2021. Additional information will soon be available on the gallery’s website.


[1] Allusion to José Loureiro’s text conceived in July 2020 for the press release of the exhibition O Idílio Habitual, available at:

[2] CALVINO, Italo, Seis Propostas para o Novo Milénio, translated by José Colaço Barreiros, Edições Teorema, 2006 (1990 original ed.), pp. 111-112.

[3] GOETHE, Johann Wolfgang, Theory of Colours, translation by Charles Lock Eastlake, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 1970 (1810 original ed.).

Margarida Alves (Lisbon, 1983). Artist, PhD student in Fine Arts (FBAUL). Researcher by the University of Lisbon. Degree in Sculpture (FBAUL, 2012), Master in Art and Glass Science (FCTUNL & FBAUL, 2015), Degree in Civil Engineering (FCTUNL, 2005). She is a resident artist in the collective Atelier Concorde. Collaborates with national and foreign artists. Her work has an interdisciplinary character and focuses on themes associated with origin, otherness, and historical, scientific and philosophical constructions of reality.

Signup for our newsletter!

I accept the Privacy Policy

Subscribe Umbigo

4 issues > €34

(free shipping to Portugal)