Be it day or night, it matters not: André Gomes and Pedro Calapez at Museu Coleção Berardo
In 1945, André Bazin wrote the essay Ontology of the Photographic Image. He argued that the birth of photography had freed painting from realism, allowing it to become its muse. For Bazin, unlike painting, photography does not create eternity. It embalms time, subtracting it from its corruption. For him, it is a «true hallucination».
In Be it day or night, it matters not, at Museu Coleção Berardo until January 2, we are invited to travel between the painting of Pedro Calapez and the photographic images of André Gomes. The exhibition, with debutant works by the two artists, encourages us to think about the ontological value of the image, which emerges in its ways of seeing the world.
The challenge of the joint exhibition was proposed by Rita Lougares, director of Museu Coleção Berardo, when years before, at an exhibition by André Gomes, she encountered Pedro Calapez’s hands painting in one of Gomes’ works. The suggestion evolved in the artists’ minds and, after almost a year and a half, the exhibition arrived. It is Pedro Calapez’s hands that we see as soon as we enter the exhibition, also pointing to the relationship of his painting with the body and gesture.
The painter’s works have been organised in a series entitled Um corpo entre corpos. This title reveals the corporeal relationship of Calapez’s painting with the bodies around him. His painting is a body that dwells among the spectral bodies in André Gomes’ works; but also a body among our own that fill the exhibition room.
Alexandre Melo signs the text of the exhibition catalogue. He talks about the relationship of the two artists with the image and tells us that «André Gomes has always gotten closer to the images, we don’t know if it was to feed the illusion that he could move away from them. Calapez has always moved away from the images, we don’t know if it was to feed the illusion that he could get closer to them.» In 1945, Bazin invited us to think about the freedom of painting to represent itself and the freedom of photography in the equally real and surreal; now, Pedro Calapez uses the abstraction of painting as a body and André Gomes creates in the freedom of someone who has not only transformed photography into its muse, but has taken it beyond surrealism.
André Gomes’ image-photographs are oneiric compositions of a world that exists beyond the world. In his works, we find a metadiscourse of someone who, through photography – the art of spectra, of the invisible in the visible – creates surreal worlds through the real. The layers of bodies in the artist’s efforts make us lose ourselves in the different possibilities of reality, realising the surrealism that we inhabit and that dwells within us.
In an exhibition by two such different artists, we expected to find works from different worlds. But we found evidence that the tangible and the intangible, the corporeal and the incorporeal, the real and the surreal exist in dichotomy. One confirms the other. André Gomes and Pedro Calapez talk about the world they share and they talk to us too.
Day or night, physical or metaphysical, painting, photography, literature or cinema – it doesn’t matter, the calculations are always right. We are nothing more and nothing less than a body among bodies.
 Calapez, Pedro; Gomes, André. (2021). Seja dia ou seja noite pouco importa. Lisboa: Museu Coleção Berardo.