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Limpar a seco and Mão pesada: João Jacinto and Horácio Frutuoso at Travessa da Ermida

When we enter Travessa da Ermida, we find a large drawing on a canvas on the ground: we see a long tree, with its branches cut off except at the top. It reminds us of a tall, slender but unprotected body. Below, hints of a suburb: traces of a house, an electricity pole. Where are we getting to?

When we look to the right, at the back of the gallery, perpendicular to this work, we see a heavy, grey image. When we get close, we find a body that looks decrepit, torn, but screaming. The perspective is claustrophobic: even with the feeling of lying on the ground, the body is almost at the top of the image. The watery colours and materials stuck to the paper make it heavy: everything seems to want to fall vertiginously.

On the right side, we see another image, the last of the exhibition. An enclosed space, formally similar to the body painting, but where we encounter three black windows. The perspective is again strange: the windows taper off at the bottom of the composition, most of the pictorial space is occupied by the ruined ceiling.

The Ermida is the free, real space between these images, which lends the gallery its name. Built in the early 18th century, the ceiling crackled reveal the time of this place. It is it who fulfills the limits imposed by the objects on show: the abstract map they draw together can only be united by the ruin – symbolic or real. The house that we do not see in the images could be the gallery: space also seems to have marked it. The difference is that João Jacinto’s painting, although it stirs the memory through the textures of its pictorial surface, is traumatic and cathartic. It regurgitates something deep, which seems heavier than the reality of the objects. A truth that is intended to be erased by its release: to wipe dry, to leave no trace. To overcome.

When we leave the gallery, there is a work that remains to be seen: it is positioned a few doors before and arranged as if in a shop window. In it we see a engraving by Horácio Frutuoso, entitled Mão pesada. We see words jagged together, some of them overlapping. Here are the ones I have identified: Metamorphosis, Sculpture, Internal Wound, Adulthood, Ceremony, Painting, Sweat. As in João Jacinto’s show, each word establishes a limit that we cannot cross to form a concrete logic. The construction obtained, beyond its typographic formalities, is composed of parallel meanings that translate an insurmountable thought. But its truth lies in the impossibility – the games of tones, the overlapping and hidden layers, the enigma – which makes it a consciousness of its own that we cannot access. So, we see it as appearance, the “thoughtful image” that Rancière showed us.

Sometimes we don’t need to know everything.

Limpar a seco by João Jacinto and Mão pesada by Horácio Frutuoso are on view at Travessa da Ermida, in Lisbon, until November 27.

Miguel Pinto (Lisbon, 2000) is graduated in Art History by NOVA/FCSH and made his internship at the National Museum of Azulejo. He has participated in the research project VEST - Vestir a corte: traje, género e identidade(s) at the Humanities Centre of the same institution. He has created and is running the project Parte da Arte, which tries to investigate the artistic scene in Portugal through video essays.

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