Um esqueleto entra no bar… by Paulo Lisboa
Paulo Lisboa’s work follows us after the first contact. Like a mist superimposed on the visible landscape, the images incite layers of understanding that are only settled after the encounter. I remember turning off the light in the room, while getting ready for bed, the day I visited the exhibition Um esqueleto entra no bar… With the light off, my gaze as I tried to focus on the objects around me recalled the experience of looking at Paulo’s drawings. The space between light and darkness. Between shadow and silhouette. This grey, dull and mysterious place.
The exhibition consists of eleven works, including two installations and nine drawings of coal on aluminium. In the monochrome drawings, we see circles filled by the black of the coal or delineated by the filling on the opposite side. “Images consisting only of manipulated light (…)” writes Alan Fishbone. The absence or presence of light in an extremely detailed work of smoking coal on metal creates spheres within spheres, producing a vibrating and moving sensation.
There is a clear duality in the physicality of the drawings: white and black. A metaphor explored in the most different contexts, from Star Wars to Taoism, light and darkness represent two opposing and complementary poles. Day and night, feminine and masculine, good and evil. But there is another element implied in the polarity expressed in the drawings: balance. There is no light if there is no darkness. The contrast shows the interdependence between the two qualities. There is also an expansive and contracted movement created by the repetition of forms in the nine drawings. Repetition and difference. Result: instability and transformation. The balance is not static, it is dynamic.
The two installations in the two separate rooms use the same procedure. A projection of light on a cylindrical glass object. The result is drawings of light and shadow, a translation of the pictorial language used in the other works. The experience of the observer is to understand the functioning of the eyes. When going from light to darkness, the gaze needs an adaptive period. Little by little, the gaze accommodates itself in the absence of light and the drawing reveals itself before the observer.
Simple and complex. From the particular to the universal. From the atom to the void. Paulo Lisboa’s works are witnesses of a reasoning imagination. The exhibition is at Fundação Leal Rios, in Lisbon, since December – and will reopen in April.