SEMPRE: Ana Jotta at Lumiar Cité

An iconic 1920s Knole sofa, in red velvet and bearing signs of the passing of time. Behind it are two curtains in shades of yellow and blue, in the corner of the wall where the sofa is. On them the same image has been printed several times: the silhouette of someone in a rowing boat. This first exhibition area is at the Lumiar Cité entrance. We can sit on the sofa and let our imagination run free. Ana Jotta presents us Sempre, her solo exhibition.

After this micro scenery, we see a poster. With Indian ink, Ana Jotta highlights the word “SEMPRE” and writes in organic letters:

– It’s hot

– It’s hot

And pointed.

This poster seems to announce what happens on the gallery’s upper floor, and the words seem to come from a dialogue of the artist’s imagined narrative. Before we go to the upper floor, we find a minimalist mirror by Veit Stratmann, who was in an exhibition here before Ana Jotta. The rest of Stratmann’s work was left behind at the artist’s request, perhaps to underline the viewers’ confrontation with their image. We are taken step by step, each moment a pointer into Ana Jotta’s conceptual world.

The luminous clash happens when we climb the stairs to the upper floor. From an environment filled with light, windows and reflections, we move to an atmosphere where brightness is increasingly rare. The first object highlighted is the countless black curtains from the ceiling to the floor. They are theatre curtains, which, together with the absence of lights, underline the drama of this nucleus of the exhibition. “Ana Jotta presents a film and draws a cinema room – the artist as producer and director? The title of the film: SEMPRE. Screening times? Not really, just the opening times of a gallery and a cinema poster”, we read in the exhibition text.

On the upper floor, we see Ana Jotta’s film in the centre of the room lined with black curtains. The film is sketched on a projection screen. Here, the artist has dared to paint directly on its surface. A single spotlight illuminates the painting, achieving a dramatic effect worthy of a cinema room. Imagination is decisive and this spotlight mimics the role of a projector. On the screen, the elements are limited to the frame that emulates the typical blue and red pattern of envelopes; there are several elements in the composition and the word remains necessary. We read small notes inside square shapes. The green, pink and pastel yellow are reminiscent of typical post-it notes: “A day past, a memory day”, at the bottom; “But still a day” in another; “A dead dead day”, and then “-That lives”. They are notes on this surface, along with the composition’s forms. In words, movement, hand, shadows, drawing and painting, SEMPRE is poetry and imagination.

It is not just painting, not just installation – it is a setting, stage and action. The present is between what happens and what may happen; SEMPRE seems to be an interval of time, with longings and sensibilities; the will to produce everything possible; to do everything, with all and forever. The economy of means and reuse underline the energy of each object, which individually already have a past in themselves. The sofa, the curtains, the mirror and the projection screen are in Ana Jotta’s hands. The artist-producer that, in this venue, gives a new meaning to these objects.

SEMPRE is at Lumiar Cité until July 31, 2022.

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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