André Romão’s Allegorical Night

In 1919, Sigmund Freud published an article entitled «Uncanny».

The epicentre of this notion [strangeness] is its paradoxical nature, for this strangeness is a familiar strangeness.

There are several focuses in the Night that André Romão presents at Galeria Vera Cortês. Inside, André Romão shows us fragments of human bodies, joined with light or objects; sometimes wood as an extension of flesh; branches as an extension of time.

In the artist’s work, there is the convergence of the archaeologist’s approach with that of the collector and allegorist – perhaps the latter is the one in which the former meet.

Many of the pieces in the exhibition are taken from their original time and context, presenting, under the dim light of the night, and of the now, this coexistence composed of distant times in dialogue with contemporary elements, executed by the artist as finds.

“The allegorist takes this and that, the confused repository of knowledge at his disposal, he takes one piece, puts it together with another and tries to see if they fit together: a sense for an image, an image for a sense. The result is unpredictable, because there is no natural connection between the two.[1] . We are told this by Walter Benjamin, for whom work on allegory was a vital piece of his thought, begun in The Origin of German Tragic Drama (Berlin, 1928).

The density of time equals that of night. They are objects that find someone to look back at them. A gaze that finds the strange, once again returning to Freud, and the bodiless, as in the piece Ancient Woods (2022), where a glazed head seems to live. Yet its body is ghostly. A void beneath a 17th-century tapestry confirms not only the impetus of the strange, but also of the allegorical.

A large number of the works in the exhibition result from a dialogue that underlines the notion of fragment. For example, Grafting (dead wood) (2021) presents the fragment of a wooden sculpture – on the credits, we can read “probably from Flanders, circa 1600” – which was the target of an intervention by the artist. The 17th century sculpture is brought up to date. With it, André Romão’s ghosts or creatures from the nocturnal forests could coexist, for the allegorist’s gesture is to add life to things. The sap of the living branches of today’s night awaken the ancient.

The idea of fragment is today allied to the dispersion of the body by the exhibition. Remains or part of the human body are found throughout the space Foot (2022), a foot; A touch of the fox / Sunambulo (2022), a head; some of them are illuminated by a dim light, because after all it is still night.

Some kind of narrative unites (secretly) the spirits of these creatures. Perhaps the fusion of artist and archaeologist. This is an open story for the spectator to cohabit with the strange – a supposed fox beneath the tapestry of trees and vegetation -, with a tree-body, as in Dedo (2022) – and words that blur with the foci of light. Or the stars.

In the exhibition text, the sleepwalking artist writes about the poems in the exhibition (Stockwell poems, 2020-2022). Romão writes about the connection between the poems and the pieces, saying that they are the same thing.

After all, the branches that mingle with time, like the gaze that seeks to pierce the night, are not so strange to each other. The sap that blows can also be the hand that writes.

Noite, is on show at Galeria Vera Cortês until 29 October.



[1] Fragment [J80, 2 / J80a1], Walter Benjamin, The Paris Passages, Transl. by João Barrento, Lisbon: Assírio & Alvim, 2019

Rita Anuar (Vila Franca de Xira, 1994), is an interdisciplinary researcher, graduated in Communication Sciences, Postgraduate in Philosophy (Aesthetics) and Master in History of Contemporary Art, from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of Universidade Nova de Lisboa. She has been part of the research group in Literature, Philosophy and Arts (FCSH / IELT), since 2020. She is interested in the intersections between visual arts, philosophy and literature, indiscipline and wind. Apart from her activity as a researcher, she writes poetry.

Signup for our newsletter!

I accept the Privacy Policy

Subscribe Umbigo

4 issues > €34

(free shipping to Portugal)