Field by Pedro Cabrita Reis

Field by Pedro Cabrita Reis, curated by Michael Short, is a sculpture in Venice’s Chiesa di San Fantin, in an action running alongside the Biennale’s current edition.

For the first time occupying a church, at first Pedro Cabrita Reis draws out the contrast between good and evil, light and darkness. There is also a notion of violence and anguish. On the horizontal plane, the five tons of rubble brought from Lisbon contrast with the entire church’s architecture, with its altar and everything it may represent. In an amorphous amalgam with the debris, we find objects that the artist calls tables, illuminated with white light fluorescent tubes, standing above the floor, suggesting a path without beginning or end. These tables are a direct reference to the passerelles – structures used in Venice when the Adriatic Sea waters rise and flood the city. These phenomena, entitled Acqua Alta, which have been happening more frequently due to climate change, add a new topography to the space, imposing horizontality. Field, living up to its name, also adds a new topography to the church space where it was installed: industrial materials, typical of Cabrita’s work, flood the space, that endures through tables emitting an artificial light. It is a kind of counterpoint to the lights we normally associate with a religious site. These tables also create a relationship with Baroque painting, according to the artist: the surface, elevated above the ruins, recalls the suspension of clouds in those same paintings, where angels are represented on top and demons below. Field is a clear, confrontational space between different dualisms inherent to human existence. Its relationship with the body and space intends to instigate a new notion of origin: as the artist says in an interview with Nick Serota, Field, through its horizontal layout, and the human body, through its vertical layout, form the “ultimate symbol of the universe”.

With Field, Cabrita again addresses artistic themes from antiquity, such as the effort he did at the Louvre Museum’s invitation to create a work from The Three Graces. He conceived a bas-relief on the horizontal plane, summoning the human body and the divine presence that always fill the church grounds, establishing a kind of fourth-dimension of that relief, which can perfectly add an interpretative layer to the sculpture. The chaos in Field is a sum of times, predictable and unpredictable, founding and destructive moments. A compendium of a part of human action. As if a force attracted fragments that suddenly form a real space together.

Field is the result of a work that Pedro Cabrita Reis has been developing since 2000 with True Gardens no. 1, where the artist thinks about the (im)possibility of a real garden, and where flatness, the use of materials and a certain melancholy open the way to this new field in Venice.

Field opened on April 22 and ends on September 30, 2022.

Daniel Madeira (Coimbra, 1992) has a degree in Artistic Studies from the Faculty of Arts of the University of Coimbra and a Master's in Curatorial Studies from the Colégio das Artes at the same university. Between 2018 and 2021, he coordinated the Exhibition Space and the Educational Project of the Águeda Arts Center. Currently, he collaborates with the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra (CAPC).

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