The forms of nature

The forms of nature, its fragments, golden leaves, tiny twigs, insects merging in this ensemble, seem blurred, corpuscular. It provides a connection to the cosmological realm and to the outer space record, through cosmography and space fantasy, occupying the human mind since the early 70s of the twentieth century until today.

The small specks, organic traces, planted on different coloured backgrounds, composed and then photographed by the artist Manuela Marques, portray an idea of nature crumbling under the threat of an environment seemingly collapsing at any moment, as resources become scarcer and phenomena grow ever more rampant in their effects.

It seems to unleash a connection between the work and an idea of finality, of foreboding, and, at the same time, a sense of nostalgia, a harbinger of loss, and a poignant effect.

Behind the gentle and delicate formation of natural fragments, spread out on coloured bases, looms a sense of restlessness for the worldly things threatening to collapse at any moment and which, through a combination of helplessness and inevitability, we witness without any effective way of responding.

The hazy, foggy nature behind the images is something that Manuela Marques’ pieces seem to retain. Now on show as part of the ACCROCHAGE exhibition at the Rui Freire gallery until January 27.

Marques’ photographs are displayed throughout the gallery, profoundly connected to each other, just as Léa Bismuth described in the catalogue for the 2022 exhibition Echoes of Nature: “these photos talk and face each other, ultimately describing an imagined cartography, whose outlines would need to be drawn in its non-fixed fluidity[1].

The photos, particularly the Graine, Fruit and Lacis series, are precisely reminiscent of an idea of “non-fixed” reality.

Among a body of work pointing towards a thinking approach founded on fluxes and currents, the concept of the work’s openness and its undeniable loquacity becomes more evident and urgent.

Ortega y Gasset said the following in his work The Dehumanisation of Art: “Our most deeply held, most unquestionable beliefs are the most suspect. They are our limits, our confinements, our prison. Life is nothing without an overwhelming desire to expand its boundaries. One lives in the same proportion as one yearns for more. Our stubbornness to stay within our usual horizon is a sign of weakness and the decay of our vital energies. The horizon is a biological line, a living organ of our being; whilst we bask in fulfilment, the horizon emigrates, expands, elastically undulates to the beat of our breathing. On the other hand, when the horizon is fixed, it has become ankylosed and we have entered old age[2].

Expanding boundaries, widening horizons within the creative process are also featured in Marques’ works made in 2022, such as Explosão 1, Explosão 2, Passage 1, 2 e 4, Phenomene 1, and Extraction.

An idea of transience, of metamorphosis, of registering movement arises from all the works in the exhibition. From its polarisation into several other possibilities, we find works such as Fruit 2 and the Lacis series, especially Lacis 5 and 7, where we can perceive one of the most important attributes in photography, i.e., light. Or the idea of transmuting the frame as a limitation, as Deleuze put it.


[1] Bismuth, L (2022) Atlantic Conversation. Catálogo “Echoes of Nature”, MNAC, page 5

[2] Ortega y Gasset (2018). “A desumanização da arte”. Nova Vega. Page 84

Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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