Critics’ Picks

Jorge Molder, The Scale of Mohs, 2012-13, digital pigment proof, dimensions variable.


Jorge Molder

Museu da Eletricidade
Avenida de Brasília
December 5 - March 23

MNAC: Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado
Rua Serpa Pinto, 4
December 5 - February 23

“I is another" wrote Arthur Rimbaud — words that apply well to the work of Portuguese artist Jorge Molder. For the past three-plus decades, the Lisbon-born artist has called upon his own image as a model for his photos. Two separate museum exhibitions documenting his practice have opened in his hometown, one at the Museu do Chiado and the other at the Museu da Electricidad. On view at the former is “Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief,” an expansive exhibition of works spanning 1989 to 2012 that showcases the variety of ways Molder fictionalized his own image. Throughout, the artist seems to have drawn inspiration from both people and situations that linger between reality and fiction—for example Pinocchio, 2009, in which the artist casted parts of his body in plaster. Similarly in the series of photographs, “The Origin of Species,” 2012, Molder appears in different postures in front of a black square; traces of his movement blur over some of the images, causing him to appear animalistic.

Molder’s latest series, “The Scale of Mohs,” 2012–13, (on view at the Museu da Electricidad) features the artist as a gesticulating clown who is concerned with his appearance. The title refers to a scale designed by German mineralogist Friedrich Moh that indicates the hardness of minerals, ranging from soft talc to hard diamond. Given the attention to the surface of the face in these photos, the title could refer to the way human skin is inevitably scratched by time. The clown seems to sense his mortality, even though he is entertaining with full dedication. Part of the images looks like drawing or painting, even though that is a illusion, carried out in a digital printing technique. The clown, working on his make up in red and white, adds another layer to the confusion about the reality of the image.