Moita Macedo and Edgar Pires: spatial dissonance, temporal dialogue

Two exhibitions are currently on view at Galeria Municipal Vieira da Silva: Na noite um cavalo dança (May 6 to October 14) by Moita Macedo and Stranger than Paradise (May 27 to August 26) by Edgar Pires. Each follows its own distinct path, setting an undeniable contrast that reflects the generational contexts of their creations.

The themes of the new anthology of Moita Macedo’s work are divided into nuclei and summarise his philosophical interests, which he always called “memographies”.

Don Quixote is drawn in ink lines, an iconic character of adventure and imagination. The city is depicted darkly, in multiple frames of overlapping colour blocks, and alluding to the title of Labirinto(s): “processions of hypnotised hunched over figures, repeated by compounded solitudes, in a permanent contradiction between individual freedom and an oppressive collective destiny” (wall text). The theme of the crucifixion is central to his work and the exhibition, not according to a sacred iconography, but rather as a reflection in red and neutral colours (something that runs throughout the exhibition, even if only in the frames) on the meaning of this gesture and what it tells us about humanity – of its perpetrators, but also of the sacrifice made in the name of what is good in us.

The artist’s technique, bordering on informalism and later evolving towards gesturalism, becomes clearer in the latter theme (Branco, Alice Tomaz, A Libertação in Moita Macedo: 1930-1983, Portugal, Caleidoscópio, pp. 47-69). Colour and paint layers always emerge in free brushstrokes, with vaguely contoured human figures. His technique is an important representation of a stylistic moment that represents the best of what international art did during those decades.

The caravels then refer to his military service in Portuguese India. They are followed by paintings with Asian influences, in one of the most interesting moments of the exhibition: the yellow background, a specific yellow, is an aesthetic choice on which he reveals his fascination with the Asian world, which he only partially accessed in his youth and seems to have continued to follow.

The drawings focus on elusive human figures. Among them is a block of six ball-point drawings, donated by Paulo Macedo, the artist’s son, to the Loures City Hall, behind which the exhibition is built (it is a motto, rather than a significant contribution). Finally, a poetry reference, which always influenced his career in the visual arts, in another six charcoal works captioned with the poems themselves (Todas. Mas todas as bandeiras/ (Sem o Homem) / São farrapos de ideias).

In a second space of the gallery, a room lit from outside shows Edgar Pires’ exhibition. The author, with more than ten years of experience in solo and group exhibitions, won an Honourable Mention in Aveiro and a Fundação Marquês de Pombal Prize, both in the Young Artist category. His site-specific experiments with materials are the opposite of Moita Macedo’s classical materials and thematic clusters, momentarily disorienting the viewer.

Whether sliced into rounds or in a longitudinal approach, images of tree trunks are recreated, side by side with small metal balls that could have come out of an oversized marbles game. There is a square cut-out on one wall, made of rust and glass, resembling flattened amber. This environment, reminiscent of nature and the outdoors, contrasts with the space made of industrial materials (glass, exposed brick, metal), opening up the interior to what may be outside.

Pires’ interest in working with materials of this kind and the interaction with lighting tricks lies in a perspective of art that manipulates the surrounding space and considers it as an experience. On the other hand, Macedo’s work is limited to the canvas, with the author concerned with experiencing values and landscapes. These two lines never cross.

Inês Almeida (Lisbon, 1993) has a master's degree in Modern History given by the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, part of Nova' s University of Lisbon. Inês has recently completed a Post-Graduation in Curatory of Art in NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition "On the edge of the landscape comes the world" and has started collaborating with Umbigo magazine.

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