Critics’ Picks

Paulo Brighenti, Cascata (Waterfall), 2019, encaustic, pigment, oil on linen, 98 x 56".

Lisbon

Paulo Brighenti

Galeria Belo-Galsterer
Rua Castilho, 71, RC, Esq
May 10–July 27

For “Cascata” (Waterfall), Paulo Brighenti has convened encaustic paintings and roughly molded sculptures in variations of dark brown and sienna. Two somber paintings, Bacchus #1 and #2, 2019, show the face of a man sticking out his tongue. Bacchus #3 and #4, 2019, rendered in concrete, are installed on plinths nearby; what unrolls from the mouths of these disfigured, fossilized skulls are not tongues but gently perched copper leaves. The reference to the Roman god of wine and madness invites ritualistic associations, as does “Árvore” (Tree), 2019, a septet of oil sketches of forests, though in their ashen palette they’re more reminiscent of icy winter landscapes than wanton Dionysian rites.

In its own room is Cascata, 2019: two raw-linen canvases folded as cloths and hung on a yellowish wall painted in strokes suggestive of rapture. As if feeding from the turbulence of the wall, their variegated motifs and colors are tamed by their minimalistic outline just enough to imply falling water. Both draw from batik motifs and Rorschach tests, the latter association strengthened in Tapete (Carpet), 2017/2019, in which a hexagonal, organic geometry comes into full bloom against a golden background. Despite their suggestions of animistic desires, the neoclassical formality of these works lends them an archaeological discipline. If one were to imagine the waterfall referred to in the exhibition’s title, it would be a secluded one, surrounded by prehistoric grottoes with pigments for the artist to smudge and bring into the air whiffs of spring from secret caves.