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Galeria Zé dos Bois: The observer’s accomplice

With brilliant, mediocre, insensitive, or protesting ideas, artists insist on daily studio work, choosing to ignore the crisis that is brewing or contributing to its critique (depending on the point of view). From a historical standpoint, art reflects issues of contemporary social and political life. In essence, their profession is also inevitably implicated in this network. This process of research, selection and creation is then brought together in a brief exhibition of two months or less. I think about how I admire artists, the behind-the-scenes work and the dedication to developing effort that represents them. There is a lot of things that go into putting together an exhibition. What is in plain sight is only a tiny part of what is hidden behind the stage.

The latest exhibitions at Galeria Zé dos Bois are about that: the manipulation of narrative, the intrusion with each visitor’s observation, the testing of the passage of time and its erosion under the venue.

Sara Mealha presents Qual destes uma armadilha?, a mystery that is easily solved after we find the clues in the crossword puzzle. The key says: 1. trap, 2. thief, 3. Robert Gobert, 4. escape, 4. Fra Angelico, 6. Prado, 7. annunciation and 8. cell. They justify the artist’s intentions, the story, the references, the image and the action. It remains to be seen if there will be some boobytrap or if the absence of number 5 was intentional…

Tiago Batista exhibits paintings framed by him, which test different overlapping and unfinished readings. Most of Febre’s pieces also allow the presence of their own resident spectators, as the artist uses bald napes that take up the canvas space. They observe this spectacle, where a white heron or a shadowy figure dressed in black appears behind the cloth. Other objects are mimicked, such as the shell and the painted shell, indicating the wise idea of the notion of theatricality.

Ellie Ga reconstitutes one of the upper floor rooms to accommodate 4 different shots of the oceanographic phenomenon of the Aegean Sea gyres, which pull and push stories of faith, despair, and tragedy in its currents. Gyres is told through the hands of the American artist, who heads archives of documentary footage, interviews, and printed acetates. A piece that reflects the historical but also the current state of events of this place.

Tomás Maia and André Maranha conclude the cycle with Parlatório, a time machine, a clock, an hourglass that makes sand run through several wooden compartments. This mechanism silently counts time in a dark room until the grains run out. Is it an omen?

Galeria Zé dos Bois is a benchmark and an example for other venues in Lisbon, taking on the responsibility of continually asking: “What would Zé dos Bois say about this exhibition?”; “What impression does this make on the general arts scene?” and “What is its importance now and in retrospect?”.

The exhibitions are open to the public until 26 November and the admission price is 3€.

With a background in Arts and Humanities (Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon, 2018) is a public programer and an independent curator in contemporary art. Currently, she is taking a Master in Fine Arts in Curating from Goldsmiths University of London while dedicating her research to non-conventional exhibition spaces and alternative curating methodologies. (portrait by Hugo Cubo, 2020)

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