Wanderlust: Collective Exhibition at Artes – Mota Galiza (Porto)


Wanderlust at Artes – Mota Galiza, curated by Carlos Magalhães Pinto and Galeria Nave‘s director Mercedes Cerón, presents works by Arturo Comas, Francisco Correia, João Motta Guedes, Jon Gorospe, Martim Brion, Susana Rocha and Teresa Murta. The first collective show of these seven artists in Porto is based on the notion of the artist’s desire to set off in search of the unknown. It is a wandering search through the uncertainty of the creative act, in a set of artistic practices that, despite being distinct, converge on the same theme throughout the venue.

The exhibition’s title recalls this notion of desire or dream of travelling aimlessly between utopian landscapes, towards the unknown. It is like a nostalgic and pleasure-filled desire to discover something unfamiliar. According to the exhibition text: “On a deeper level, this can be understood as a philosophical or religious quest, which motivates the individual like a locomotive that does not stop until it reaches its “station”, and this can be a geographical place, a philosophical breakthrough or a religious enlightenment.” In Wanderlust, each artistic practice stands out individually, whether by medium, language, concept or arrangement in space. But the dominant note is this universal notion of fascination and dazzle with the unknown or a kind of creative force, or latent questioning about existence, a possible precept in the conception of an artwork.

Against the odds (2013) and The wind in my hair will not take me there (2013) by Susana Rocha are disruptions in space, the result of contrasting materials, including metal, fabric, sinuous or straight forms, contradictory symbolic elements, such as knife, rope or hair; but also of statements with various meanings and questions about the poetics of the human condition. But Untitled (01B) (2022) by Arturo Comas leaves everything hanging when we simply see a cadeira portuguesa by ARCALO, with two front legs resting on two cans of Sagres beer. The materialization of the absurd and the subversion of the logic of the utility of objects that, whilst being associated with relaxation and leisure, are perceived as being in movement or off balance, allows for a different sensation of length, a stop in time. On the other hand, Cube 5 (2018) by Martim Brion conveys rhythm and movement in a visual illusion. Each of the blue cubes with white geometric shapes allows infinite variations, as if it were a physical and mental game. In one corner of the venue, Jon Gorospe presents De Magnete (black) (2018) and De Magnete (white) (2018), two photographs made lyrical by black and white, by the concreteness of a starry sky and the abstraction of a landscape, the result of a project on the research On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies, and on That Great Magnet the Earth (1600) by the English physician and scientist William Gilbert. He discovered that the direction to which compasses pointed was not caused by the material, but by the fact that the Earth was magnetic. Next to it is Freedom Song(2022) by João Motta Guedes, a photograph with soap bubbles over a blue sky. It reflects some onirism or a sense of freedom. Just Keep Walking (if you can) (2022) is from the same author, with two granite blocks with strips of slippers arranged on the floor, paradoxically questioning the possibility or impossibility of dreaming of other directions, destinies or of making imagination come true. From another point of view, Teresa Murta’s paintings metamorphose reality through concrete objects, decontextualised on the canvas into imagined worlds, chimeras or subconscious memories, which allow us to travel in our most far-flung images. In another room, Temps théorique (Météorique), Temps théorique (rear view mirror) and Temps théorique (letreiro sign) (2023) by Francisco Correia illustrate a kind of journey through three temporal notions and perspectives, materialised three-dimensionally in the venue. This is done by a model of a car on a shiny black plinth, reflecting the other works and the observer, the drawing of a rear-view mirror where we see the driver, and a kind of luminous sign with the inscription Temps théorique, in a conceptualisation of the work itself. Finally, Untitled (How small a thought it takes – after Wittengenstein and Steve Reich) (2022) by João Motta Guedes, installed in a dark environment, only with an occasional light that reveals a marble tombstone with the description How small a thought it takes to fill a whole life?, with a prostrate bouquet of flowers, ironically addresses the culmination of existence through a two-fold quotation, first written by the philosopher Wittgenstein and then by the composer Steve Reich, in a piece of music.

Wanderlust is a term that immediately recalls the great travel narratives throughout Western history, culture and art, whose pinnacle was nineteenth-century Romantic thought, recalling the Grand Tour spirit. In this exhibition, it allows a reflection in the context of contemporaneity on this desire to travel or to imagine other worlds and possibilities, and even the need to keep searching for wonder through new experiences.

Wanderlust is at Artes – Mota Galicia until April 29, 2023.

Ana Martins (Porto, 1990) currently working as a researcher at i2ADS – Instituto de Investigação em Arte, Design e Sociedade, with a fellowship granted by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (2022.12105.BD) to atende the PhD in Fine Arts at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto. Already holding a MA in Art Studies – Museological and Curatorial Studies from the same institution. With a BA in Cinema from ESTC-IPL and in Heritage Management by ESE-IPP. Also collaborated as a researcher at CHIC Project – Cooperative Holistic view on Internet Content, supporting the incorporation of artist films into the portuguese National Cinema Plan and the creation of content for the Online Catalog of Films and Videos by Portuguese Artists from FBAUP. Currently developing her research project: Cinematic Art: Installation and Moving Images in Portugal (1990-2010), following the work she started with Exhibiting Cinema – Between the Gallery and the Museum: Exhibitions by Portuguese Filmmakers (2001-2020), with the aim to contribute to the study of installations with moving images in Portugal, envisioning the transfer and specific incorporation of structural elements of cinema in the visual arts.

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