Between Words and Silences: Works of the Norlinda e José Lima Collection

Until the beginning of February, Centro Cultural de Cascais welcomes works from the private collection of Norlinda and José Lima, in the exhibition Between Words and Silences. With a hundred works, there are many resonant names of the art made in the last 50 years (Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Paula Rego are some of them), in a vibrant and heterogeneous show.

At the beginning we find the only text of the exhibition: 10 lines that warn us that the show does not want to take us in a particular direction, the aim is to awaken the sensibility of the eyes that meet it. Indirectly, we note that it is a simple proposal: to present works from a collection that is not always accessible to the public. And, considering its quality, that is enough. In fact, we reach the end of the show with the urge to stop and process everything we have just experienced. Even though words and silences may demand the attention that each one attributes to the works, there is little museographical silence – we are constantly surrounded by textures, colours or images – which works both for and against the exhibition.

The highlights are many: Fun by Damien Hirst shows us, in a small assemblage, a very interesting condensation of the artist’s iconographies – the spot paintings, the pills, the death wish, it’s all there – always between the sublime and the gratuitously provocative; Azulejões by Adriana Varejão are an unexpected but essential addition, which reminds us of the transgressive sensibility of her works. These, in our country, have unfortunately gone unnoticed; and Cosmo Cover Girl by Cindy Sherman, a portrait that stares directly at us, as we try to decipher her dominant and emancipatory attitude. The most prevalent works in the show are by Portuguese artists: Carrocel by Fatima Mendonça is among the most interesting pieces in the exhibition: a painting, which, due to its abstract aggressiveness, reveals itself to be a dance – dangerous, chaotic, for sure – when we carefully discover it.

The exhibition’s lower floor, where the works mentioned so far are located, is the most consistent – perhaps because there is more room between the objects, allowing a thoughtful and less anxious contemplation. Although the upper floor displays several new highlights – it is where we find most of the objects in the exhibition – some works end up being suffocated.

Perhaps the greatest example is the exhibition’s last section, where seven works (in particular Marco e Flávia by Arlindo Silva and L’ Essayage by Bernard Rancillac), cohesive in their chromatic order, are exhibited without separation between them – we are barraged by a chaos of dynamics and aesthetic formalities, at a point when, faced with the number of works already seen, we fall into a kind of perceptive numbness.

But this floor is full of stimulating dialogues – an assemblage by Gonçalo Mabunda, Dá ao Povo o que é de César, next to an untitled painting by João Jacinto, establishes a blatant plastic parallelism between both, seeming to have been conceived to dialogue with each other; it is also important to mention the inclusion of Victor Vasarely’s Kaglo – a work which, due to its optical magnetism, dominates one of the main rooms on this first floor – and a lovely Untitled by Júlio Pomar, recalling a distorted version of Chardin’s Canard Mort Pendu.

All in all, we can appreciate a complex collection, almost impossible to define. In interviews, José Lima says that he does not have a criterion when acquiring works – they just have to convey something to him. And this plurality is what establishes this exhibition’s identity: with more or less quietness – and some words -, a space is opened up that is susceptible to perdition, free and unassuming.

Between Words and Silences: Works of the Norlinda e José Lima Collection is on show at Centro Cultural de Cascais (Fundação D. Luís I) until February 6.

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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