Under the rug – João Pedro Trindade at Sismógrafo

As if it were a game, a maze-like journey whose path and layers of meaning we seek to unravel, we dive into the immersive experience that João Pedro Trindade (b.1990) offers in Under the rug, 2022[1]. Filling the whole exhibition room of Sismógrafo (Porto), we notice the concern and importance given to scenography: as soon as we enter Under the Rug, we witness a staging through an installation drawing, which creates a route of twenty-two street rugs collected by the artist between 2013 and 2022. These make up an inhabitable space that surrounds the visitor. Skillfully suspended from the ceiling and at different levels, some laid out in rolls on the floor, the carpets puzzle and surprise us. Apparently banal floor pieces, we highlight the artist’s decision to present them on a vertical plane, as if they were frameless canvases that we go around, viewing and reading them from different angles and even from the reverse perspective. Extending Seismógrafo’s red floor, the warm, earthy colours of the carpets catch our attention. If at first contact with the work, we think we are dealing with monochromatic paintings, we are quickly surprised by the material, patterns, and the artist’s appropriation of the object carpet, to which he attributes new readings and meanings. Seemingly identical, each carpet maintains its autonomy as a work of art. Taken together, they create an ecosystem of sensory and emotive experiences. There is an intimacy in Under the rug, through which João Pedro Trindade shows us the attention he gives to the objects he comes across every day, in a meticulous work of collecteur, of observer, collector, always paying attention to the image. Calling the urban space into the exhibition space, João Pedro Trindade takes us outside, appropriating and ade-contextualising elements of urban and industrial culture. The role of the carpets, previously arranged at the entrance to buildings to welcome us, is changed in this installation. Through them, we walk through the streets of the different cities from which they were collected by the artist. We see the marks of wear and tear caused by time and human action. The colours faded by sun exposure – red, orange, yellow and green -; the crowd’s footsteps; the cobblestone squares and their creased patterns, as if they were fossils, a second skin engraved on the surface; the tears and imperfections of the canvases, marks and overlaps that generate images, sedimented memories of everyday life, which João Pedro Trindade chooses and transports to the now. Giving a new meaning to the title expression, Under the rug reveals the scars that arise from the adaptation and modelling of the material to the mould. In this process, the artist autonomies the support that receives the image or the relief of what was there through contact, the contact with the real that creates marks that narrate stories. João Pedro Trindade’s watchful eye for the ever-changing urban world, and his surgical observation of everyday life, reach their apex in a body of work that displays the layers accumulated in a certain object. With it, he shows a new look that mobilises our senses. The artist teases the viewers by giving them the chance to see everyday elements through decontextualization and manipulation that shift their attention and perspective, highlighting the less obvious features, the elements that usually go unnoticed[2]. In Under the rug, the visitor is surprised not only by the artist’s process of transformation and reuse of the rugs, but above all by the way he makes visible what we normally do not see in our everyday lives. The emptiness of modelling, which speaks to us of absence and loss, imprints that become signs on the surfaces of the carpets, pieces of urban archaeology that immortalise forms and patterns from the streets. Rugs that sum up the symbolism of home.


[1] Opened on March 5, the installation Under the rug is on display at Sismógrafo until April 9.

[2] AGRA, Emídio – Under the rug, João Pedro Trindade. 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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