The abstraction and representation of suspended places in the works of Pedro Calapez

A abstração e a representação de lugares suspensos nas obras de Pedro Calapez

Who is it Pedro Calapez?

the portuguese artist Pedro Calapez was born on February 24, 1953, in Lisbon. He studied Engineering at the Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon, while simultaneously working as a professional photographer. Given his academic career, no one could have foreseen his turning to the practice of painting. Between 1972 and 1975, he attended artistic initiation courses at the National Society of Fine Arts, continuing his training in Painting at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes in Lisbon. During the late 1980s, he began to assert himself as a painter, in exhibitions such as After Modernism (1983) and Arquipélago (1985). Alongside his artistic activity, he developed a career in teaching, as a teacher and head of the drawing and painting departments at Ar.Co (1986-1998).

The artistic journey of Pedro Calapez

“It is with the idea of provoking the gaze that the deconstruction of the painted surface takes place. It all starts when I realize that after seeing a certain painting and wanting to revive it in my memory, only a few details are found, or rather, several details are clear and sharp, but they appear in an unpredictable sequence, unrelated to the story told in the painting. After all, these fragments appear in direct proportion to my interest or ability to observe and memorize. My works, which are groupings of painted panels, intend to reconstruct this process of memory, to remake a picture based on fragments. Each panel can be seen in isolation but something different emerges when confronted with those in its vicinity. As I look away, I now see the totality of the fragments creating a new unit, as if it were a single work. Decomposition thus promotes its opposite. What is a part and what is a whole merge, completing the work.” — Pedro Calapez about his artistic journey in an interview for Carpe

The artistic characteristics and methodological rigor of the works of Pedro Calapez

Integrated in the context of the outbreak of Post-Modernism, his work developed however on the sidelines of the unruly narratives around the return to painting and sculpture. His works are based on the discipline of drawing, tending to be explored with great methodological rigor through pieces marked by the appropriation, decontextualization and recontextualization of popular or erudite images or not, linked to the popular culture of comics or to the imaginary and ruined architectures that Piranesi imagined and drew in the 17th century. At the base of this work are reproductions of images, constituted in dossiers that the artist collects, keeps and reuses indefinitely. All of his work, painting and drawing, stems from the appropriation of these images, their decontextualization and subsequent recontextualization, in a postmodern attitude that Calapez shares with other artists of his generation. Thematically, his painting deals with the construction of a space, or a multiplicity of spaces and, more recently, with the ability to reproduce a space through painting and drawing. Architecture is one of its main references, setting the tone for reflection on space as a pre-existence and as something constructed and subject to manipulation. the work of Pedro Calapez it is established between abstraction and the representation of suspended places somewhere between the sketch, the scenery and the ruin. The human representation, invariably absent, gives way to the presence of the spectator who roams freely between the exhibition space and the space of the work.

“Everything starts in the face of another. Even in painting and drawing Pedro Calapez [Lisbon, 1953]. Above all, in that risk of indiscretion that is drawing. Not in the proximity of light that it can bring and keep, but in the verbal expression of its shadow; this, yes, is much more than a mime, it is a voice that commands the fragility of the line, that does not let it die alone, a prisoner of indifference, in an undoing of presence. With a pallor like a pencil point or a tenuous charcoal, before being absorbed by the stain that is close to it, it tells us: “Look at me.” In fact, that junction point, that passage, it too looks at us, but its face that was a dash, a broken line, a line between two instants lost — lost and gained — its particular face, to let itself be in the general and larger face that is the stain, the shadow. The line that captured the other's face, that preserved the water of a river, the tree of a forest, the color of a fire, or that was the pure expression of his own non-face, entered the secret of the shadow. It was taken over by a gray, by a black, by a color that is like the thought of drawing itself [of painting, if you like]. Responsible pulsation of life that runs in the traces of guilt and innocence of what was [face] and is [face of] drawing.” — Text by João Miguel Fernandes Jorge OLiveira. Published on the occasion of the exhibition «Pedro Calapez – The secret of the shadow – Works on paper 2012-2016”, held at the Carmona e Costa Foundation, from May 21 to July 9, 2016, curated by João Miguel Fernandes Jorge.

The exposures and influence of Pedro Calapez

The artistic journey of Pedro Calapez it is solid, woven in lines that transport different geometries into the paintings. The line gives strength to the work and his works reveal themselves and distinguish themselves in the eighties, in Portugal and abroad. In addition to individual and collective exhibitions, participation in the 1986 Venice Biennale, São Paulo (1987 and 1991) and the awards it received, notably the União Latina (1990), EDP Pintura (2001), Nacional de Arte Graph (Madrid, 2005) and AICA (2005). Pedro Calapez he also created scenography for shows, as well as several public works, having designed a square for the World Exhibition in Lisbon in 1998 and a ceramic panel for the Lisbon subway.

His work has been shown in several galleries and museums both in Portugal and abroad, with particular emphasis on individual exhibitions: Petit jardin et paysage, Capela Salpêtriére, Paris (1993); Field of Shadows, Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, Mallorca (1997); Madre Agua, Museo MEIAC, Badajoz and Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Seville (2002); Selected works, CAM- Fundação Gulbenkian, Lisbon (2004); ground floor, CGAC- Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, Santiago de Compostela; Painting places, CAB-Centro de Arte Caja Burgos (2005); “There is only drawing", Luís Seoane Foundation, Corunha, Galicia (2013). In the various collective exhibitions, my participation in the Bienals of Venice (1986) and S. Paulo (1987 and 1991) stands out; Tage Der Dunkelheit Und Des Lichts, Kunstmuseum Bonn (1999); EDP.ARTE, Serralves Museum, Porto (2001); Beaufort Inside-Outside, Contemporary Art Triennale, PMMK Museum, Ostende (2006); “The Collection”, Serralves Museum, Porto ( 2009); “It's not my fault, works from the António Cachola Collection”, Berardo Museum, Lisbon (2010); “La colección”, Fundación Barrié, A Coruña (2011); "93", CGAC–Centro Galego de Arte Contemporânea , Compostela (2013).

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