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Litoral, Literal, Lutoral: Gabriela Albuquerque and Chico Diaz at Coletivo Amarelo

Mas pra quê?
Pra que tanto céu?
Pra que tanto mar? Pra quê?
De que serve esta onda que quebra?
E o vento da tarde? De que serve a tarde?

Inútil paisagem
Pode ser que não venhas mais
Que não voltes nunca mais
De que servem as flores que nascem pelos caminhos?
Se meu caminho sozinho é nada [1]

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted artist Gabriela Albuquerque to seek shelter on the paradisiacal beaches of the Lisbon shoreline. The monotony and difficulties of lockdown brought her to Guincho Beach, where she constantly depicted the landscapes she witnessed. This creative period now reaches its peak with the exhibition Litoral, Literal, Lutoral, which delves into Gabriela’s memories and reflects on the beauty and tragedy of seaside landscapes.

The work Inúteis paisagens (2020-2023) consists of a series of oil paintings on paper, forming a constellation of fragments of a coastal landscape. Inspired by the song Inútil Paisagem by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, the work’s title poses questions about the feeling of wonder that a landscape can give us, albeit in a world constantly in crisis. What good is the beauty of a landscape if so many tragic things can happen in it?

Gabriela Albuquerque was overwhelmed by this quandary, and the power of the waves crashing along her path broke open the box that held the memories of the tragedy that had already befallen her on another beach, on another coast. Gabriela lost her father in a devastating accident when she was still a child, on her childhood beach in Brazil, during a perfect sunny and warm day. The scenery through which she was repeatedly forced to walk during the pandemic allowed her to tap into a memory that took place more than thirty years ago.

This memory gave rise to the work Casa de Praia (2023), a series of twenty-five paintings representing a red house set in a coastal landscape. The painting is cinematic and features a non-linear narrative. In some compositions, the house is floating in the vast sea, while in others it is almost engulfed by the waves. The red house is moving with the landscape, as is the artist. Speaking about the exhibition on October 14, Gabriela Albuquerque admitted that the house was actually a representation of herself, roaming the coastline whilst looking for the meaning of all these memories that were born out of a traumatic experience. Her body is the house and the house is her childhood home.

Another section of the Coletivo Amarelo venue, known as the “Smallest Gallery in Lisbon”, simultaneously features an exhibition of three works by Chico Diaz, Memória I, II and III (2023). These are small acrylic and watercolour paintings on paper, awash with a black background that sustains the shapes the artist builds. We see a resolute landscape, in which a red tree rises from between a body of stones. It reminds us of an inner landscape, born from a dreamlike place, but also a dark one. This is a territory that stands in stark opposition to the coast.

Chico Diaz’s works are dark and pale in colour and deal with something surreal. In Gabriela Albuquerque’s pieces, the painting is bursting with vivid colours and the story is openly biographical. Both feature the absence of the body as an object. And, in both, red symbolises life and restlessness.

Although they are in contrasting territories, the dialogue between the two works occurs on the ground. Cristiana Tejo, the exhibition’s curator, says: “If Gabriela’s landscapes are about death, Chico’s are about life.”[2]

The landscape is invariably a place of shelter, welcoming both the dream and the real.

The exhibition Litoral, Literal, Lutoral is on show at the Coletivo Amarelo until November 25, 2023.

 

[1] “Inútil Paisagem”, song by Elis Regina and Tom Jobim. Available in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tggzkeOntCg&ab_channel=ElisRegina-Topic
[2] Quote taken from the exhibition text of Litoral, Literal, Lutoral.

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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