Água viva, by Hernâni Reis Baptista, at Dentro

Água viva, by Hernâni Reis Baptista, is an essay on the skin, appearance and features of animal and vegetable bodies. This project offers a visual and poetic reflection on the border that separates these bodies from the surrounding environment, the pores and capillaries that allow the outside to penetrate the inside and vice-versa.

The fabric is the medium where photographs with living and dead textures are printed. It is over this fabric that pigments are applied as if the artist is using make-up to stain it. It is over this fabric that pins are stuck, creating a fluid and drifting atlas – an almost erotic archive of several materials that call for touch, detailed examination, proximity.

The fabric, and its application and extrapolation, is what connects this essay to a wider questioning, perhaps social, psychological, historical and artistic, about simulating or staging of a psyche – the draping of a social but also individual theatre, the ecdysis of insects and reptiles that shed their exoskeleton and skin in order to adapt themselves to different environments . The cloth is what connects this experience to the equivalents in mythology or art history – the artifice of Athens and Arachne, or the abstractions of the drapery and pleats in Renaissance painting.

Under the cloth’s threads and weft, Reis Baptista spins and weaves the complexity of life and death relationships, the past and present, beauty and ugliness, mineral and vegetable – all these pairings weaving a difficult but essential coexistence.

Água viva by Hernâni Reis Baptista is on view at Dentro until May 28, with text by Susana Camanho.

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