Alexandre Melo

  • View of "Lusque–Fusque Arrebol,” 2022
    picks April 05, 2022

    João Maria Gusmão

    A hallmark of any exhibition by João Maria Gusmão—an artist who, until recently, was best known for his collaborations with Pedro Paiva—is its thoughtful staging. For the exhibition “Lusque–Fusque Arrebol” (a Portuguese phrase that describes the reddish-orange color seen in the sky at twilight), the main room of Cristina Guerra has been made to resemble something between a modern art museum and a movie theater. In the center of the space, the bronze sculpture Farol projetor (Light Projector), 2022, rests on a pedestal. It is surrounded by partitions boldly painted in the titular reddish orange

  • View of João Penalva, “Fernand Lantier and Others,” 2022.  Photo: António Jorge Silva
    picks March 10, 2022

    João Penalva

    Most of the photographs in João Penalva’s exhibition “Fernand Lantier and others” are related to different types of fabrics: blankets, jute sacks, theater backcloths, the hemp webbings of a design chair. The importance of textures and patterns like Scottish tartan gesture to a kind of subterranean visual history of “first modernisms,” stemming from the industrial revolution and its impact on early-twentieth-century design. This attention to detail is echoed by the lengthy titles; for instance, one close-up of a swath of plaid is meticulously catalogued as Macpherson—detail of an intaglio print

  • Julião Sarmento. Photo: Paulo Pires.
    passages May 27, 2021

    Julião Sarmento (1948–2021)

    IT COULD BE SAID that Julião Sarmento’s major theme was desire. In his work, we are repeatedly faced with opposing points of view—subject and object, voyeurism and blindness, dream and reality—that repudiate the male gaze by undoing the rote equivalencies between possession and existence. The Lisbon-born artist’s evocations of bodies, often partially or completely erased, demonstrate nothing so much as the impossibility of reaching a final representation of anything; his unsettled forms cling to the illusion, nearly disintegrated today, of an unattainable, secret image.

    Beginning in the 1960s,

  • Gabriel Abrantes, Les Extraordinaires Mésaventures de la Jeune Fille de Pierre (The Extraordinary Misadventures of the Stone Lady), 2019, 8K video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

    Gabriel Abrantes

    While Gabriel Abrantes might be best known as a filmmaker (having recently won the International Critics’ Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his first feature-length film, Diamantino [2018], codirected with his occasional collaborator Daniel Schmidt), the Lisbon-based artist has been developing his themes, obsessions, and research across a wide range of mediums, from simple pastel drawings and oil paintings to animations and virtual reality. Curated by Inês Grosso, the exhibition “Melancolia Programada” (Programmed Melancholy) has brought together more than a decade of work, starting

  • View of “Rosângela Rennó,” 2019.

    Rosângela Rennó

    It was more than a century ago that Lenin thundered his way into twentieth-century history. For some, his name became synonymous with the onset of Communist totalitarian terror; for others, it represented the greatest hope for liberation in human history. These days, Lenin’s ideology is generally considered obsolete, but his image—replicated ad infinitum by the USSR propaganda machine and its cult of personality—continues to hold power as both a point of reference and a source of controversy, especially in Europe in the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the struggle for democracy

  • View of “Juan Araujo,” 2018–19. From left: Il ettelaP, 2018; Mickey, 2018; II yekciM 2018; Palette II, 2009.

    Juan Araujo

    In drawings, paintings, and objects, Juan Araujo combines conceptual sophistication with technical virtuosity, the former evinced in his evocation of art history (modernism in particular) and the latter apparent in the methodology of his installation, which allowed this survey exhibition to function equally as a whole or as a collection of individual components.

    In the first room of the show, the display strategy for the works followed strict rules of duplication (via works that are copies of preexisting images) and reduplication (via further copies of the same images, a repetition of the

  • Runo Lagomarsino, We All Laughed at Christopher Columbus, 2003, single-slide projection on MDF,  18 × 10 × 16 3⁄4". Photo: Bruno Lopes.

    Runo Lagomarsino

    One of the works in this exhibition, Untitled (This wall has no image but it contains geography), 2011/2018, featured the Portuguese version of its subtitle, written in small letters with white pencil on a wall painted black. Geography is the theme of much of Runo Lagomarsino’s work, so it’s undoubtedly significant that this show was presented in a space—run by the Lisbon municipal council—located near many historical sites and monuments associated with Portugal’s history of colonialism and seafaring in the fifteen and sixteenth centuries. Titled “La neblina” (The Fog), and curated by

  • View of “João Pedro Vale and Nuno Alexandre Ferreira,” 2018. Foreground: Vadios (Vagrants), 2018. Background: Take Ecstasy with Me, 2018. Photo: Bruno Lopes.

    João Pedro Vale and Nuno Alexandre Ferreira

    Due in part to being ruled by a dictatorship from 1926 to 1974, not to mention the hegemony of Catholicism, Portugal has no explicit lineage of gay art. In this show, titled “A Mão na Coisa, A Coisa na Boca, A Boca na Coisa, A Coisa na Mão” (The Hand in the Thing, the Thing in the Mouth, the Mouth in the Thing, the Thing in the Hand), the Portuguese duo Nuno Alexandre Ferreira and João Pedro Vale set about addressing this lack. The main work in the central gallery was titled Vadios (Vagrants), 2018, after the word used to describe gay men in the 1912 Portuguese law criminalizing homosexuality

  • Tiago Alexandre, If I were a boy, 2018, helmets, copper tube, dimensions variable.

    Tiago Alexandre

    On Balcony’s facade, atop a wide glass display window, visitors saw the handwritten question WHO RUNS THE WORLD? in pink neon. On its display window, in a more discreet position, was the title of the exhibition, WORDS DON'T COME EASY. Between F. R. David’s 1982 Europop hit “Words,” the source of the title, and Beyoncé’s power statement of 2011, is a span of some thirty years, which (perhaps not coincidentally) is about Tiago Alexandre’s age today. The citations announced his exhibition’s themes: What is power, and who has it? How does power manifest itself through images, words (which are not

  • Fernanda Fragateiro, Architecture, a place for women?, 2016, stainless steel, architecture magazines, 8 5/8“ x 13' 9 3/8” x 5 1/2". Photo: António Jorge Silva.

    Fernanda Fragateiro

    Fernanda Fragateiro’s recent exhibition, curated by Sara Antónia Matos and titled “Dos arquivos, à matéria, à construção” (From Archives, to Matter, to Construction), was a good example of a selective anthology of works of a midcareer artist. In a fluid and clarifying manner, it juxtaposed pieces from as long ago as 2002 with more recent ones, some of them made for this exhibition. At the entrance was Demolição 2 (Demolition 2), 2017, an assemblage, in a huge panel, of masonry fragments collected from a renovation project in downtown Lisbon. The work showed how the artist conceives of her process

  • Lia Chaia, Pôsteres 1 (detail), 2017, ink-jet print, paper, paper fasteners, three panels, each 42 1/2 x 2 7/8".

    Lia Chaia

    Although it might sound surprising to say this of an artist not yet forty years old, Lia Chaia’s recent exhibition “Pulso” (Pulse) had the virtues of a retrospective. In the gallery’s main space she showed several groups of recent works, themselves a clear demonstration of the breadth of her production. In one of the adjacent building’s rooms, transformed into a comfortable auditorium for the occasion, she presented eighteen videos made between 2000 and 2016 (with a total running time of more than four hours). These provided the necessary background for a full understanding of the themes presented

  • Ana Vidigal, Só a poesia nos pode salvar. Há lugar para mim? (Bambi a fugir de lá) (Only Poetry Can Save Us. Is There Room for Me? [Bambi Fleeing from There]), 2017, mixed media on paper, 63 × 50".

    Ana Vidigal

    A merging of personal and cartographical histories was evident throughout Ana Vidigal’s solo show, particularly in two attention-grabbing works, stationed near the gallery entrance, whose elements and titles both offered valuable clues as to the exhibition’s larger concerns. The first, a mixed-media piece titled sem família (say it in modern greek) (Without Family, [Say It in Modern Greek]) (all works 2017), incorporates burlap scraps from Sharjah and a Greek-language phrase book for tourists in a framed collage resting upon twenty-four sandbags. Connecting the composition’s elements are strips