Isaque Pinheiro’s A Malha on the .insofar façade
In Marvila’s historic neighbourhood, the .insofar gallery was born in September 2021, wanting to reshape the relationship between artist, work and public. On May 14, the first edition of the Fachada project was presented, under the artistic direction of Ines Valle. Once a year, an artist will be invited to intervene in the gallery’s façade. Besides an artist, an arts professional will also be invited to develop a reflection on the work presented.
Isaque Pinheiro is the first artist invited to participate in the project, the first to show the will to create a dialogue with the public space. The work exhibited is called A Malha and is a network of 155 similar sculptures filling the gallery’s façade. In these sculptures, the object represented is always the same: shirts (white shirts). The sculptures are perfect representations of a folded shirt, as if they were on display in the window of a clothing shop or in a tailor’s studio. Isaque Pinheiro’s attention to detail and technique stand out, as if the rigour of representing a shirt went hand in hand with the rigour of wearing it.
Opposite to this rigour, each shirt has been severely pricked with a hammer, revealing the iron mould of its structure. Each shirt bears the trace left by the hammer, underlining the duality between the technique’s finesse and the tool’s austerity. In this large panel of shirts, only the 155 collars are not struck by the hammer. It is immediately the most visible feature of the object. The shirts’ holes vary in size. Some have only a small hole, in others the only remaining part of the sculpture is simply the collar. This movement of breaking the cement and piercing the sculpture covers all the shirts which, in the whole installation, generates waves of volumetry that revive the gallery’s façade. The remains of the sculptures linger on the ground along the façade, as if we were seeing a project still in progress.
But what does Isaque Pinheiro want to suggest by representing white shirts?
A Malha recreates a 2008 sculpture series entitled Colarinhos Brancos, the first and original white shirts produced by Pinheiro. Regarding its title, João Silvério writes that “The model used for the sculptures is generically attributed to a more formal masculine (but not only) posture: the white shirt with white collars”, where the use of the term “white collar” is at the centre of the artist’s intention. This colloquial expression defines the characteristics of a professional with managerial, administrative or bureaucratic functions; in our collective memory, the collar colour reminds us of high social status, rigour, formality and etiquette.
In this sequence, the expression “white collar crime” appears, such as corruption, fraud or money laundering, committed by someone with high economic power and influence. It may even be an area of specialisation for lawyers. A Malha recovers the same motif of the 2008 work, with the difference being the hammer intervention and the fact that they are now exhibited in a public space. Isaque Pinheiro further extends the meaning of the work and the white collar that remains intact: each sculpted shirt is referenced in a real Portuguese court case. On this subject, Fábio Gomes Raposo, a lawyer invited to write an essay about the installation, says:
“These processes cover several areas of Law, different instances or decision-making bodies in the sector, including multiple types of action. Mediatic and unknown lawsuits. Some involving hundreds of millions of euros and others a hundred euros. Some with greater litigation and others settled by mutual agreement. (…) Cartoonish cases and repulsive ones. Cases involving economic giants and anonymous citizens”.
Isaque Pinheiro suggests a political work by making a possible portrait of Portuguese justice, exposing in public judicial processes not directly visible. Each shirt is a body and each prick made with a hammer is perhaps a sentence. The façade of the insofar becomes a shop window that displays a web of judicial processes. This is a work that reveals the private in public, accessible to all, without the need to enter the gallery. The artist is a producer of objects, a master of technique and aesthetics, of words and their meaning.
A Malha by Isaque Pinheiro can be seen on the gallery’s façade .insofar until July 12, 2022.
 Invited to write a reflection on Isaque Pinheiro’s intervention at .insofar.
João Silvério in “A Malha de Colarinhos Brancos” available on the exhibition text from A Malha.
 Fábio Gomes Raposo in “Uma arte Justa”, available on the exhibition text from A Malha.