Rise and Fall by Stuart Ian Frost and Daydreamer by Will Beckers are the two sculptural interventions at Quinta do Pisão

Rise and Fall by Stuart Ian Frost and Daydreamer by Will Beckers are the two sculptural interventions at Quinta do Pisão. They are not new: the first has been there since 2018 and the second since 2019 – but now a recontextualisation has been added, for example the captioning of the works (which now has a more inclusive braille version), a consequence of the new promotion measures imposed in recent years at Quinta do Pisão.

But this recontextualization reaches a limit that leads me to question a supposed (or not) intention: I am talking about the first intervention Rise and Fall, where we now find the dry tree that Stuart Ian Frost sculpted with circular, almost shamanistic shapes, fallen on the ground, with branches and trunk cut off. I question his intention, because the artist will have made the work with the tree in a vertical and natural position, and there is no hint or contextualisation of this second and mysterious action – except perhaps for the title which seems like a premonition, showing that everything that goes up eventually falls down. This second act, purposeful or not, adds another more dramatic, pessimistic, and less contemplative reading to the work. Yet it paradoxically makes it more alive than ever: with the tree on the ground, children climb the branches, people sit on it, the sculpture becomes interactive, engaging – it achieves a vital purpose that museums cannot: total and direct dialogue with visitors, without disturbing its meaning or conservation, because everything there is nature. The space is a place of inconsequential games and discovery – the absence of anxiety makes possible the effervescence of ideas, an uncompromising happiness.

What surprised me the most in this visit was the interactive capacity achieved by the unpretentiousness of the natural space, removing from the works any dynamic related to importance or value – they become environment, they approach us as if they were friends. In Daydreamer by Will Beckers, an installation almost camouflaged in the middle of a pine forest, the space, made up of branches irregularly arranged in quantity, seems to close itself to the surroundings, but is opened to the light interstices that penetrate through the grooves, reaching its resolution in a skylight, as if it were an eye placed on top, allowing us to see the sky and the trees. Here, a pine branch fondly slips through the peephole, inviting us into the contemplative dream idealised by the artist.

Let’s go back to the interaction, achieved here in a different way: as it is a wide space adapted to human height, inviting us to be there, we find on the floor, by visitors’ action, some trunks as benches to sit on. On them, there are even some stones and branches – the scenario is reminiscent of entering a primitive cave, with recollecting tendencies, in an impulse that emphasizes that almost enclosed space, in a forest, as a house ready to be inhabited. More interesting is to verify that, after leaving the space, there are next to the trees some small huts, very simple and amusing, also built with twigs, seeming to have been created according to the Daydreamer model. If they were built by occasional visitors, regular park-goers – I want to believe this, after all there are no subtitles or statements claiming the opposite – I think that says it all. Impulse exists when there is no pressure to control it, when we don’t consider the other more important than ourselves. We build a utopian place, collective, ecological in its practice, with communal knowledge: sometimes all we need is an escape, a sense of peace, far from the pressures of the city, or the compulsion that leads us to compress the world into half a dozen screens. We should not forget that art, when presented and contextualised in an accessible, comprehensive way – these two sculptures are an example of that – can be that incentive: a vehicle for creation, transformation. On this sunny day, displayed with a childish smile on their faces: they were dressed in dream and hope.

Rise and Fall by Stuart Ian Frost and Daydreamer by Will Beckers are on permanent exhibition at Quinta do Pisão in Cascais.

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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