“There is a swimming pool in the inner courtyard”[i]
“The portuguese language abounds in words for gardens; besides quinta, a garden behind a dwelling house is called quintal, a garden for any particular object jardim, for instance jardim botânico, and a kitchen-garden, whether open or inclosed with hedges, horta”[ii]
Hortus Conclusus is by definition a walled garden. A place outside the dwelling, shut to the street. It contains the ideal environment, designed with the light of dream and unreachable utopia. Its highest expression is the Garden of Eden or Hieronymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights.
With expression in the Middle Ages, the Hortus Conclusus took on other descriptions. Hortus Lundi, which is the play garden, the outdoor recreation room. Hortus Catalogi or, commonly, the vegetable, aromatic and medicinal garden, the orchard.Hortus Contemplanis, formalised by the cloister, as an element of architecture and the vertical relationship with the divine – a garden for thought and meditation.
Martîm’s Paraísos Urbanos is not indifferent to Hortus’ formal anthology. It is all of these things, although the artist points to a suburban garden, a refuge between hot concrete and asphalt.
The triptych of paintings from Paraísos Urbanos series puts the private/public pairing into perspective. It reveals the place of intimacy penetrated by the public. We are that audience, spectators of a daily performance on a balcony, in a courtyard, in an urban patio or terrace, transformed into the suburban epicentre. An audience that also speaks before the neighbouring glance of the flat next door or across the street, through windows and ajar curtains. The pieces’ scale feeds the perception of entering the scene. As we come on stage, we are absorbed by the vibrant imagery of pastel tones. Initially, it is a cartoonish, non-relational look at these characters, and then it becomes proximate. An uncritical reflection on housing density, the socio-economic situations of Brazilian society and the search for the interlude between work and leisure is implicit. Visions that seem distant, coming from the other side of the Atlantic, but are not alien to us – after all, birds are not alone in wanting to bathe in city pools.
The body is the common narrative between the pieces. The body is material for reflection on the desire for material stripping and the freedom to desire, “the desire for desire”[iii], whose sacralised pool by David Hockney is here inflatable and mundane. The extravagance of colours, shapes and patterns versus the weight of the rippling skies is an erotic script between the kitsch and the physical in these figures. The plasticity of the pleasure games between the body in the sun and the cooling water rises to the top of the buildings. It ceases to be a sterile commonplace and becomes a luxury, a more or less indiscreet aesthetic delight in an ordinary bathing trip.
Paraísos Urbanos is part of an exhibition season. First it will be presented at Fábrica do Braço de Prata, underlining the involvement of the canvases, without frames or limits in relation to the room and spectator. Then in Coimbra, at Casa da Esquina, where the dialogue is bright. Martîm‘s paradises speak of a typically European tropicalia, oscillating between a Lynchian black and white lodge[iv], as an urgent need to escape reality.
Paraísos Urbanos by Martîm is at Casa da Esquina until june 17.
[i] Title taken from the verse of the song Tropicália by Caetano Veloso
[ii] Henry Frederick Link in Travels in Portugal and through France and Spain, 1801
[iii] Curatorial text of Paraísos Urbanos by Mafalda Lencastre
[iv] Reference to the Imaginary of filmmaker David Lynch