Unconscious Fruit at Galeria Foco

Although it opened on 15 September, on the eve of summer’s end, Unconscious Fruit by Francisco Osório has the taste of May nectarines; juicy and potentially intoxicating if consumed in high doses.

At Galeria Foco, the exhibition attempts to bring together the artist’s work to contemplate the diversity of his oeuvre. Among the paintings, sculptures and installations, the show is made possible by the dialogue between curator Josseline Black and Osório, who together identified the narrative within the artist’s works. An exhibition that reminds the spectator, between the painting Around the centre (2022) and the installation Scenes from before (2022), of the cyclical side of memories. After experiencing something, what do we do with it?

An exhibition of contemporary artworks, despite many saying otherwise, is an event with a defined place in time and space. The exhibition occurs in a gallery at the end (or beginning) of a steep street, in the cosmopolitan area of one of the most picturesque European capitals, where various signs collide in a great war of meanings.

At first glance, we see a sea that once splashed carefully cotton candy shades on the gallery’s white walls. On the first floor, Around the centre (2022), Pleasure box (2022), A luminous night in Lisbon (2020-2022) and Traveling the sound of writing (2022), in a visual poem where each stanza talks about the intimacy of the senses. Francisco Osório is an artist who works with resonance, something he sought out, took possession of and made resonate again. According to him, one of the cornerstones of his praxis is the relationship he develops with objects.

“I collect various objects that I find on the street and take them to the studio. I put them on shelves or on the floor. I imagine them there talking to each other. I weigh them, photograph them, file them and archive them. I leave them to rest, looking at each other and then I leave. Then, one day, I go back in and interact with them spontaneously, group them together and give them new interpretations. From then on, I feel they can end up in someone else’s hands, because they’ve fulfilled their role and my action on them is over.”[1]

From the veil covering the character in Lisbon’s luminous night to the invisible pleasure that is captured by the cage, the viewer feels the presence of the primary objects that act as an archive of memories for the interpretation of events in the artist’s life.

On the gallery’s lower floor are Laughter box (2022), The pink house near Alcanar (2018-2022), Playroom (2022), Tsaddé (2022) and Scenes from before (2022), where I highlight two works in particular.

The pink house near Alcanar (2018-2022) could be our childhood home. Or the house of a cousin we constantly visited, maybe even our grandparents’ home. In this small pink photograph, the viewer is invited to step forward and open a small box kept deep in our memory palace, experiencing the warming power of an unrecognised but eerily familiar structure.

Also on what lights up the collective unconscious in each of us, the installation that lined the entire visit to the exhibition is in the gallery’s lower right-hand corner. Scenes from before (2022) is an alliteration that shuns the literary device and maximises itself on a grand scale. A curtain covers a small circle of five orange chairs, facing the centre in a symmetrical set. Inside, there is a circular screen, which could be the retina of one of our eyes. Various images are shown, in a montage that recalls a contemporary Kuleshov effect. Each of the chairs has a headset which plays a typical 80s song. From Don’t you want me by The Human League to Don’t you by the Simple Minds, each chair invites the viewer to take a different look at what could be our experience in a distant time.

The narrative of Unconscious Fruit evokes the cycle of a fruit’s useful and useless life that crosses our subjective path. From the time we pick it and bite into it until it accidentally falls to the ground, rotting to dust. We are left with the nostalgia of its taste in our mouths, which will stay with us as far as our unconscious allows.

An invisible asset of this exhibition is that the artworks on display are not just an illustration by the curator. It is Osório’s earliest image, captured and made visible in the collective work between the contemporary art triad; the artist, the curator and the gallery. The exhibition’s focus is not so much on the prevalence of one figure, but on remembering that which we all hold most dear: our subjectivity.

I pose this question: is it more important to remember the facts and document them based on reality or to affirm the events after they are lost in our memory palaces? After all, everything that is will eventually become past, just like the fruit that was on the tree.

Unconscious Fruit is on show at Galeria Foco until October 22.




Maria Eduarda Wendhausen (Rio de Janeiro, 2000). Graduated in Art and Heritage Sciences (FBAUL), studied at Sotheby's Institute of Art and is currently a master's student in Art Criticism, Curatorship and Theories (FBAUL). She works as a writer and curator in Lisbon, where she lives and traverses the marginalities of everyday life. Collaborates with Manicómio and inhabits Pavilhão31, a unique concept space in Portugal where CHPL artists are exhibited in dialogue with contemporary artists; such as Jeff Koons, Pedro Cabrita Reis, etc. Her last role as a curator, at ARCOLisboa2022 stands out in the space of the Prémio Arte Jovem Millennium bcp, a Carpe Diem Arte e Pesquisa project.

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