Three Colours: Green by Evy Jokhova at 3+1 Arte Contemporânea

There is a green tone running through the works in Evy Jokhova’s most recent exhibition at 3+1 Arte Contemporânea. It is dense, hypnotic, we have seen it in other contexts besides this exhibition – in the slush of still streams, in forests bathed in sun and earth or, except for contemplative mannerisms, in pesto, in spinach. Green is a synonym for nature with the ability to counteract the walls’ anaemia and carry us into a biological, experiential but intimate cosmology.

We are introduced to Green: Briol, simple, uncomplicated, the picture of a lake of green water – the same green – circular, unifying. One cuts the edges of the circle in the photographic glance to form a basin, perhaps a cradle – an origin, birth.

Next to it, rather larger, Green Sun, a long embroidery in green and earthy tones – we see a blurred sun, punctuated by scattered hands and eyes, hanging, dimmed, wanting to elicit an awareness, like a ritualistic object staring at us in its apparent immobility. The result is a textually seductive piece, but with somewhat literal motifs – it is a statement of intent in its utopian, new-age imagery, implying a sense of sharing.

After seeing the first maps, we enter the forest: Picoesque, Azoreana and Tapadinhas are two to three metres high sculptures, standing on the ground, whose resemblance is reminiscent of a tree or a ceremonial mark. The upright and vertical position makes our body interact with them, strange objects between natural and moulded. They all recall a dry, worn, barren presence: they sit on a bed of volcanic gravel, like scorched earth; in Picoesque, black flowers emerge from a vase like a rotting heart. Their ceramic sandstone body breaks, but gravity leads to a calmer, more premeditated beauty, identifying them as valid objects among the other works. Tapadinhas, the last of these sculptures, is in the final alley of the first exhibition area. There we see natural plants in opposition to the displaced and alien profile of the first two. Sculpture and nature cohabit in a spontaneous and complementary way: sandstone composes the body, with other details among branches and insects; spindly bundles of dried herbs emerge from the sculpted body, between a handmade broom and Millet’s The Gleaners. The ritualistic side in the objects, together with the plants seemingly coming from a distant and tropical context – the anatomy of the palm tree is recurrent – give us an exterior, somewhat exotic look, probably a consequence of the artist’s coexistence with the Shipibo-Konibo indigenous community at the beginning of 2022, which will have fed these works. In Tapadinhas, the dried leaf fan at the bottom of the piece resembles the hula dance skirts, levitating off the ground.

This floor ends in green. In Green: Necessidades, two close-ups of cacti are muscular, textured photographs; in Green Wall Drawing, a gradation of greens seems to cast shadows like a ghost. They recall a climbing form, mysterious yet brilliantly simple, between a treetop and a ladder. The staircase we descend to the underground floor.

We see a long dining table with small food-like sculptures; aprons on each chair, inviting us to sit down; overlong cutlery on the wall, reminiscent of a palatial kitchen, converted into a white void.

People will have eaten there in a dream. Green jugs were filled with clear water, unknown delicacies on the table to indulge the gluttony of the guests. I too was seated there. Each one served the others the best puff pastries, the most delicious pesto, using only the giant cutlery. Some were giving food to others’ mouths, intoxicated by the pleasure and sharing. The food and the sculpture blurred, but the voluptuous pleasure absorbed them. A voyeuristic crowd stood around the table, watching the actions of these people of endless gluttony, feasting, talking, laughing. Nothing was given to them to eat. The clustered crowd grew larger and larger and watched intently over the entire room and faces. No one at the table was ashamed. Did they want to eat too or was curiosity quenching them? Who were those people at the table and why did they have the right to be there? The banquet carried on carefree, like a mouth swallowing all the works and walls.

Suddenly, I came back down to earth and climbed the stairs. Everything changed. The cactus’s vibrant colours became succulent; the volcanic gravel now looked like chocolate chips on shapes; the embroidery was a tablecloth ready to be rolled out. As in life, maybe we were just biding our time until the next meal. Let’s eat together.

Three Colours: Green by Evy Jokhova is at 3+1 Arte Contemporânea in Lisbon until January 7. The performance described took place on December 9.

The last performance will take place on 4 January at 5.30pm.

Miguel Pinto (Lisbon, 2000) is graduated in Art History by NOVA/FCSH and made his internship at the National Museum of Azulejo. He has participated in the research project VEST - Vestir a corte: traje, género e identidade(s) at the Humanities Centre of the same institution. He has created and is running the project Parte da Arte, which tries to investigate the artistic scene in Portugal through video essays.

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