Three must-see exhibitions in Alvalade

Do Balcony, Appleton and Fundação Leal Rios have anything in common other than being in the Alvalade neighbourhood, known for its community dedicated to contemporary culture and art? At first sight, the highlight seems to be only the recently opened exhibitions this month: at Balcony, Uma cobra naturalmente falsa – exhibition with Evy Jokhova and Mané Pacheco, until July 10; at Appleton, Pongo mi pie desnudo en el umbral – solo show by Christian García Bello, until July 22; and AnaMary Bilbao’s exhibition J’avale la vague qui me noie le soleil de midi – until September 19 at Fundação Leal Rios. If we look closer, all these venues have invested on promising shows before the summer – relying on a much-needed freshness that already points to the September rentrée.

Uma cobra naturalmente falsa: Evy Jokhova and Mané Pacheco at Balcony

Exhibition-duo curated by Ana Cachola, with two artists – Evy Johkova and Mané Pacheco , who work sculpture and installation in loco, and are concerned with and reflect on questions of our relationship with external social and political factors. This time, the artists seek a connection between the body and the earth, the spiritual and the ancestral that guides us, with the snake as the central figure. Both were working on this animal, so often considered malevolent, at the time they were invited to an exhibition at Balcony. Crawling down this path makes sense.

In the exhibition, there is no common thread, there is no beginning, middle and end that narrates a story. Some elements allow each person to create their own narrative around the main character – the snake. And thus «deconstruct the normativity of ways of seeing», as the curator argues.

The two artists challenge each other with different techniques, although there is a natural symbiosis: reused materials and handiwork aggregated to respond to the same approach and theme. Evy shows us some recognisable totems in her work (exhibition at Galeria Foco), such as a lemur, a weasel and a dove that, through ceramics, came to life in residence at Sedimento Ceramics Studio. Evy tells me that the exhibition looks at nature through knowledge, power and struggles, at the dichotomy between right and wrong, good and evil, at women’s historical connection with nature, and the consequent knowledge. The artist focuses on the domestic side of women.

The use of colour and luminosity, in contrast to the black background in Mané Pacheco’s works, establishes a natural dialogue between the two artists, as well as the lightness of the relationship of Evy Jokhova’s embroidery and weavings with the intensity and rigidity of Mané Pacheco’s suspended snakes.

The exhibition had the collaboration of Galeria 3+1 Arte Contemporânea: a union to achieve a sensorially brilliant result.

Pongo mi pie desnudo en el umbral: Christian García Bello at Appleton

Christian García Bello’s first solo exhibition in Portugal takes place at Appleton and reflects the exhibition that took place in September at Fundación DIDAC, in Santiago de Compostela, although variations and novelties are presented. The title is a verse taken from a Galician poem, which explains how a story should be understood and put into perspective, serving as a conceptual basis to also understand the course of this exhibition, according to the artist. The verse is used to think about a woman’s journey, and also ours, throughout an exhibition that combines architecture, landscape and spirituality.

Curated by David Barro, this exhibition is composed of twelve works, including sculpture, installation and works on paper, with materials as distinct as olive oil, beeswax, resin, bivalve shells, salt water from the sea and stones, which take us to the idea of landscape and the place to which the exhibition transports us. It is the poetry of the chosen materials that fill the narrative and takes us to the end of the story.

It is also interesting to think about this space at Appleton which, despite focusing on distinct projects, often presents us with stories of transformation like the one in this exhibition – of an artist working primarily with ways of analysing and inhabiting space.

J’avale la vague qui me noie le soleil de midi: AnaMary Bilbao at Fundação Leal Rios

In May, I had the pleasure of visiting the Fundação Leal Rios’ collection, learning that an AnaMary Bilbao exhibition would soon take place – and it has now opened its doors.

AnaMary Bilbao opens up to the visitor – and also opens up the picture plane, which seldom happens, by placing the subject in the foreground. Based on the book Le blue du ciel (Georges Bataille, 1935) and the song Almost Blue (Chet Baker, 1987), the artist presents various ways of working with the image, including photography, video and projection. A special reference to the work Dirty, seven video projections on tracing paper and seven quotes from the book used as inspiration, which point to the metaphysics of being, space and memory, with an open ending for personal interpretations.

The artist works on exposing the images in negatives that she finds. Sometimes she hides more of the image from us. Other times, she vaguely releases its content – and that happens in this show: she plays with the appearance and disappearance of spots and subjects, always maintaining the typical black background. Usually, we see the works more «concealed» and with fewer people and objects. So this revival also offers something to think about. There is the dichotomy between the present and the absent, the light and the dark, which remain active and passive subjects in AnaMary Bilbao’s works. This time, they are not the exception.

This and «so many other things that these works hide», as Aurélien Le Genissel writes, that we can only «embrace in their entirety» by visiting the exhibitions.

Uma cobra naturalmente falsa – at Balcony until July 10. Pongo mi pie desnudo en el umbral – at Appleton until July 22. J’avale la vague qui me noie le soleil de midi – at Fundação Leal Rios September 19.

Concluded the Bachelors in International Relations with a minor in Communication Sciences at Universidade Nova de Lisboa and an MA in Art Markets Management at ISCTE. Has been involved with varied cultural projects such as AZAN, ProjetoMAP and REDE art agency. Assisted the production of the exhibition ProjetoMAP 2010-2020 Map or Exhibition at Museu Coleção Berardo and produced the exhibition I WILL TAKE THE RISK at AZAN. Was involved in the publication of the book ProjetoMAP Map of Portugal’s Artists and contributes for publications such as GQ Portugal.

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