DEVOLUTION: Tomaz Hipólito at Carpintarias de São Lázaro

DEVOLUTION is Tomaz Hipólito’s most recent individual exhibition at Carpintarias de São Lazaro. Curated by João Silvério, this show is a series of works between sculpture, drawing and performance. Showing objects that seem to be offshoots of the very same world, we see Hipólito’s attempt to give back to nature the extensions of its forms.

The first Carpintarias room is filled with several sculptures that immediately remind us of the natural environment. On the ceiling of the room’s central area, nine tree branches have been suspended, stretching all the way to the floor. On these branches painted black, small extensions made of plastic tubes were applied, which blend in with the natural branches. At the back of this room, other branches of several dimensions have been arranged along the entire wall. But the plastic tubes increase significantly in size here, elongating the length of the branches even further. The union of these two materials seems to give the wood qualities of plastic, giving the illusion, for example, that the trunks are flexible. The artificial light from different spotlights and the natural light coming in through the windows cause the shadows of these two large sculptural objects (2021 draw_21 #08 and 2021 draw_21 #09) to create new drawings on the gallery’s wall and floor.

Next to the horizontal window overlooking the city, another trunk is again protracted by a plastic tube, which darts through the gallery window and back inside again, as if imitating the movement of a wild vine. At the end of this niche lives another similar work. In 2021 draw 21 #05, a trunk has been extended by two tubes that branch into two other branches suspended from the ceiling.

The matte black colour applied to the different materials partially soaks up the shadows that might form on the surface of the branches, bringing these sculptural objects closer to the drawing aura.

Drawing was the medium that inaugurated this exhibition, in a performance where the artist intervened directly on the gallery walls. In this act, Tomaz Hipólito used the wall as a support and drew on the projection of a naked tree gently moved by the wind. The black drawing was made over the movement of the tree and traced the main lines of its structure, originating a skeleton that, at a certain point, also seems to follow the rhythm of the original branches. Hipólito opens the process by the tip of one of the highest branches. However, even so, the drawing only goes as far as its body can reach. This unique process remains materialized by the drawing, but also by the video record projected in a small room of the Carpintarias. Artist, drawing and projection unite in a single plane: the body, the paint and the tree become one. In this projection, the artist’s body is united with the body of the tree and its black silhouette also consists of branches. From the formal standpoint, the drawing of this performance is reminiscent of the studies made by Mondrian on the tree that he painted tirelessly between 1909 and 1911, simplifying its forms and making it more and more abstract. [1] We know that Mondrian endlessly painted this tree to achieve new forms, starting from the same structure. But what is Tomaz Hipólito’s relationship with the tree that he decides to reveal and draw? And are the branches in the gallery part of this tree or its habitat?

The objects gathered in DEVOLUTION seem to come from the same working method, which consists in collecting elements from nature (trunks and branches), treating them in the studio together with plastic tubes and unifying the two materials with the colour black. The result is a series of peculiar compositions that reveal the artist’s interest in the antithesis between the natural and the artificial.

DEVOLUTION by Tomaz Hipólito will be on show at Carpintarias de São Lázaro until 19 December 2021.


[1] Elgar, Frank (1973) Mondrian. Cacém: Editorial Verbo. p. 39

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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