Luvas Brancas by Pedro Valdez Cardoso and Amanhã by Nuno Sousa Vieira + Pedro Valdez Cardoso

Besides the silence and melancholy as we walk through the exhibition Luvas Brancas[1] by Pedro Valdez Cardoso (1974), at Galeria Fernando Santos, we have the works’ duality and irony. There is humour and absurdity, a critical and reflective sense that plunges us into an introspective experience, a search for meanings and readings, subtly unveiled by the artist between the lines of his work, in the seams of his embroidery, in the doubles he offers us. Duplicity – a constant in Valdez Cardoso’s work – has a decisive role in this exhibition: in addition to the duplication of some works, we should mention the double meanings and the importance of the sign – not only of the objects, but also of the words that complement the artist’s discourse – and the process of dissimulation/camouflage of the objects through the surface coating, as if it were a second skin. The duplicity of Pedro Valdez Cardoso’s work is also visible in some of this exhibition’s themes, including life/death, ephemeral/perennial, domination/subjugation, desire/restraint. In a deliberate contradiction to the exhibition’s title, Luvas Brancas (white gloves) – an expression that reminds us of a ceremonial event – we are confronted with the humour of A meio da noite from 2004, where the artist deconstructs the title’s idea of a ceremony by showing us four black kitchen gloves sewn and framed on the gallery’s entrance wall. This deconstruction process is also visible in Love Lost Lust Lost Love from 2021, whose name plays with the words that compose it, suggesting a double reflection. There is a dramatic side to this piece, fuelled by the staging: a bouquet of black vases perched on the floor, a space of action and existence. The bouquet immediately reminds us of the notion of ceremony and tribute, while the black colour recalls loss, finitude or even mourning. All in all, it conveys a poetic aura marked by nostalgia and melancholy. A work whose beauty and simplicity also acts on time, which is suspended here, preventing us from seeing the deterioration of the flower bouquet. The layers, irony, cynicism and double meanings of the artistic practice make us look at the belt that binds the jars together in a bouquet, in chromatic uniformity with the flowers. “By reconnecting (tying, binding tightly), the belt reassures, comforts, conveys strength and power; by binding (tightening, fastening), it leads to submission. To dependence and restriction – chosen or imposed – of freedom”[2]. Notions of power, the one who dominates and the one who lets himself be dominated, what sets us free and what imprisons us, ambiguities and questions of the artist that go beyond the exhibition, confronting us in sewn sentences displayed on the walls: After awhile you could get used to anything; Sooner or later one of us will play the other. And also in the ceiling installation featured in the gallery, composed of several pots with plants, suspended at different heights, in a system identical to equestrian harnesses. Using the iconography of equestrian equipment for training horses, the 2013 installation Técnicas de Adestramento, conceived entirely in artificial leather – like the sentences on the walls, with the material it mimics (leather, which is resistant and flexible, but entails mortality and exploitation) and the harness as instruments, makes a reflection on the materials used by man to domesticate animals. It also makes us question the reasons for this need for power, domination and obedience. Needs and desires, power relations, domesticity, control and submission are in the striking video that shares the exhibition’s name: Luvas Brancas. Faced with the horse’s penetrating gaze, we read the subtitles and are struck by the irony. We are the ones who subjugate ourselves to the animal and it is he who dominates us, he is our master. We – men – are the domesticated ones, those who put on the gloves to take care of him, for Most things just appear to be. We must highlight The long wait of 2021 whose title, covering material – sand – and objects speak of the notion of time, a suspended and eternal action. A chair that no longer sways and hands that do not grasp, elements that nevertheless resist the long wait – even if it is death. We find resistance in Hard from 2021, bone and snail shells as armour that subsists to time and death. The reference to death is also visible in other works, approached with the artist’s typical irony and cynicism, whether through associated (duplicated) signs or black ties in Un autre de 2021e The funeral party de 2021, or with the presence of the skull in Untittled (Play Dead) de 2021.

The embroidery and sutures on paper; the reflections on the walls; the homogeneous treatment of surfaces and the monochrome that enhance the meaning of the pieces and their titles in Luvas Brancas. After this, we go to another place and a new time, that of Amanhã[3], an exhibition that brings together works by Nuno Sousa Vieira (1971) and Pedro Valdez Cardoso, conceived independently and without prior dialogue. On show across the street, at Espaço 351 of Galeria Fernando Santos, “the exhibition’s title sets it simultaneously in two times: the present, which is the time of the exhibition; and the future, which is the time that the exhibition demands. (…) Faced with this temporal dialectic, the best thing is to suspend time” [4], an idea of suspension that we find in the pieces on display. Two giant insoles on the gallery floor take the first step to meet the spectator. On each one we read the words “Forward” and “Backward”, in a contradictory speech and action, alluding to the idea of displacement and the body in movement. Topped by a low cloud – a symbol of living metamorphosis, due to its becoming – we see an articulation between these two works that promote a dialogue and also a tension between the places they inhabit: the earth and the sky. Sousa Vieira’s blue clouds, sculptural objects suspended in the air, surprise us and attract us by their geometric accuracy and the crossed planes, composed of notions of transitoriness and permanence. We rediscover new designs and forms in a game of illusions that involves the spectator. Illusion, humour and criticism are found in the scenic construction of an environment dominated by the manipulation of figures and objects. Objects that take on new configurations, revealing the importance that the two artists give to the constructive process and the materials they use. An example of this is Nuno Sousa Viera’s Armadilha from 2018, where the experimentation and deconstruction of utilitarian materials – wooden chairs – point towards transformation, as they acquire a new function. Under and above this suspended trap we find the works of Pedro Valdez Cardoso: the camouflage of Under, 2021 (whose pattern and carpet fabric extends to boots, giving a new dimension to the expression ‘sweep under the carpet’) and the apparently fossilised exotic fruits, which, despite pointing to a colonial past, allow us to think and imagine a new time, that of tomorrow. Closing the exhibition, we have the beauty and poetic message of Sousa Vieira’s work From darkness to light, 2015: a lightbox where we see a slide for a magic lantern from the late 19th, early 20th century – an image that alludes to the alternating, transitory and hopeful passage from darkness to light, towards a new day, towards Amanhã.


[1] The exhibition at Galeria Fernando Santos (Porto) from January 15 to March 12, 2022, includes 20 works by Pedro Valdez Cardoso, covering sculpture, installation and video, most of them either unpublished or never before shown and made between 2003 and 2021.

[2] CHEVALIER, Jean; GHEERBRANT, Alain: Dicionário de Símbolos:(mitos, sonhos, costumes, gestos, formas, figuras, cores, números). Livraria José Olympio Editora S.A., Rio de Janeiro, RJ. Translation by: Vera da Costa e Silva…( 6th edition, 1992, p. 245.

[3] Inaugurated on January 15, 2022, the exhibition will be open to the public until March 13.

[4] Quote from exhibition text.

Mafalda Teixeira, Master’s Degree in History of Art, Heritage and Visual Culture from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto. She has an internship and worked in the Temporary Exhibitions department of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. During the master’s degree, she did a curricular internship in production at the Municipal Gallery of Oporto. Currently, she is devoted to research in the History of Modern and Contemporary Art, and publishes scientific articles.

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