Oneiroikos: the symbolic space of the house and the dream at Brotéria

The Poetics of Space (1958) by philosopher Gaston Bachelard addresses the poetic images that can arise in intimate domestic spaces, a place of ours to which dreams, memories, desires, fears and loneliness belong. The house as our first universe is an intimate place, which protects our Self. There are other small spaces in it – drawers, safes or cupboards -, intimate places where we can keep memories and feelings.

This principle feeds the exhibition Oneiroikos at Brotéria, a reflection on the house as a place of dreams and imagination. Curated by Eva Oddo, Oneirokos brings together Carlos Bunga, Diogo Costa and the duo Eduardo Fonseca e Silva and Francisca Valador, artists from different backgrounds who explore the relationship between intimacy and the world, the micro and the macrocosm.

In the first room, Eduardo Fonseca e Silva and Francisca Valador show us two watercolours where we need to bring our bodies closer, given the smallness of the composition. They are tiny watercolours, almost microscopic, showing us environments charged with mystery. In these small scenes, the background is black, and what is painted on it is enlightened by the title of the works. Papel arroz (2022) shows two small rice berries and Dobra sal (2022) features the presence and absence of a seemingly melted salt stone. These are the words providing light to these two symbolic images, which could represent fragments of all our kitchens. The images of everyday life continue with another four works, where socks are the composition’s main object. These indispensable items acquire solidity and become sculpture. Once again, words – (Leviatã (2022), Diamante (2022), Oroboros (2022) and Rosa (2022), which give the works their titles – brighten our imagination, guiding our reading. Also in this room, Diogo Costa presents Iminente (2019), a small maquette where an egg is perfectly balanced on top of a miniature table. This small world crafted by the artist initiates the magic seen in the following rooms.

The poetic image is then built by miniature houses, where the artist is the agent of their construction and destruction. In the video Construction(2002), Carlos Bunga uses his eager hands on several small toy houses, changing their shapes, in a conventional representation of a dwelling. The sound is also poetic. It is the sound of action, of hands and material. The house is for playing, dreaming, imagining: an image with endless possibilities. In the room opposite, the environment darkens almost completely, and the dream is produced by Diogo Costa. Again, with a maquette, but now with larger dimensions, placed on the gallery floor. The artist presents a magic scenario, consisting of a mirror which is the base for a brass plate and an ostrich egg. The composition’s balance is heightened by two candles in this setting, which illuminate and leave traces of wax and time. In Plano de Intenções (2022), oneirism prevails.

In the last room, Diogo Costa’s fantasy continues with four small models on the gallery floor. In a dimly lit environment, the small sets are perfectly in harmony with the space, creating a luminous composition on the walls, composed by reflections (originated by the mirrors that are part of each maquette). With a ritualistic aspect, the works look like imagined divisions, where strange objects dwell, without functionality, in perfect balance with each other. This is an environment bursting with possibilities. They could be architectural models, dollhouses or film sets. It is a full and empty, interior and exterior dynamic, marked by the frailness of an egg or the power of a candle. In the same room is More space for another construction #13 (2007-2008), where Carlos Bunga paints a structure of black, white and golden lines on a page of an architectural magazine. This page features a modern architectural space that supports Bunga’s composition, building a new space over the existing image. This is intimacy invading the outside.

In Oneiroikos, Carlos Bunga, Diogo Costa and the duo Eduardo Fonseca e Silva and Francisca Valador come together to think about dream (from the Greek Oneiroi) and house (from the Greek Oikos). Between the dream house, the imagined house or the house that inhabits us, the discrete worlds of each artist give rise to poetic images between intimacy and world, reality and dream.

The exhibition is at Brotéria until December 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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