Onomatopoeia, alliteration and other sounds
In a Western society centred around the eye-gaze pairing, Pedro Tudela dares us to shut our eyes and listen. Tangente is the artist’s most recent exhibition at Appleton Square, a middle ground between stopping, listening and looking – a gaze that hardly materialises.
Audio cables, speakers, hardware as fixings and a strobe light, everything is visible, everything is laid bare and raw, on the walls (of the gallery). This aesthetic runs through Tudela’s sculptures and spatiality, embodying and adding substance to the work. It reminds us of post-modernist architecture , with its infrastructures and pipes at the surface of the skin. An openly high-tech approach, but using analogue devices, revealing its innards and exoskeleton without restraint. A gesture, here as a line of thought and also as a drawing, which Tudela shares with these industrial-inspired, infrastructural façades.
In Tangente, the artist allows the viewer to observe the sound’s visible path, assigned to the venue’s architecture, the spread, the resonance, the echo, that which is invisible to the eye. This comparison between Tudela’s work and construction is not innocent. The artist deliberately pursues this dialogue with space, through a performance that goes beyond sound design and stage setting to address us about perception. Tangente is once again this exercise. The sound coming from the six speakers inside the room rings off the walls, switched on and intertwined with the light rhythm that blocks the time needed for our pupils to dilate normally. Nearly blind, we stagger around looking for references, contact points between shadows and surface – a common thread –, but that loose thread that we try to follow with our eyes, along the floor, along the wall, is never-ending and is soon lost. We are caught in Pedro Tudela’s metaphor, we hear whispers and arrastar de aranhas a arranhar, their web stretched taut.
An onomatopoeia, as we know from poetry, is a figure of speech where a sound is reproduced using phonemes. The city noises, the arrastar de aranhas a arranhar, the cries of animals, the cogs of machines or the timbre take the shape of letters, mimicking these sounds through repetition. We learn diphthongs in this way and Sara Mealha provides this urban atmosphere at Appleton Box. If Pedro Tudela works with sound, Sara Mealha uses it as the score for a language. It permeates the room with the scent of freshly painted oil on the walls – we almost believe that the canvases were made there, in situ. Sara Mealha offers a figurative narrative, overlapping reviews of altered events within the universe of vibrant, non-obvious colours and the onomatopoeia of a learning alphabet. These are carefree, urban and everyday pieces, like unfinished street murals, whose colour and graphic movement, and clever attachment to the walls – and I do mean clever – reinforce the vocabulary and the letters’ sturdiness.
Tangente by Pedro Tudela and Meia Bravura by Sara Mealha: two exhibitions to see until December 2 at Appleton.
 And we suddenly recall the Centre Pompidou, conceived by the architectural duo Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, a line partially followed by some of Eduardo Souto Moura’s buildings, such as the Viana do Castelo Cultural Centre.