Jose Pedro Croft, Rui Sanches

Gallery Alda Cortez

The sculptors Jose Pedro Croft and Rui Sanches have exhibited jointly several times since 1985, together with a group that includes, among others, Cabrita Reis and Pedro Calapez. In his early work Croft used stone as his primary material. He employed geometric forms and placed blocks of stone one upon another. The starting point was a simple form—the parallelepiped—and the composition related to architectural forms, such as the arch and the column. It also made reference to the funeral architecture of tombs and coffins. These works had a tendency to be large, to have an anthropomorphic scale; they also elaborated on the relationship of the work’s internal balance and the surrounding space.

In his most recent series, Croft has revived a sense of intimacy and sensuality in the modeling of the works. The sculptures have reduced dimensions, and thus the theme of the relationship with the surrounding space is transformed into an internal motif. The play of the interior and the exterior, together with the sense of equilibrium between them, becomes their central theme. The coexistence of brass and stone reveals a diversity of chromatic and textural effects that is enhanced by the chisel marks. Croft’s sculptures deal with a search for a more formidable equilibrium, the construction of an absolute house. It is both an equilibrium against death and a house for death.

Sanches’ work since the early ’80s has had a strong formal and conceptual unity. The artist’s starting points are well-known paintings—Poussin, David, Chardin—or genres from art history. The allusions to the Classical period as well as to the end of Classicism itself represent a sophisticated commentary on contemporary culture, for the reference to Classicism functions as a hypothesis to overcome the contemporary crisis and sorrow of modernity. The use of this allusion opposes a tautological strategy and much appropriation art.

Sanches’ process of sculpting is not a process of imitating. It is a process open to experimentation that the artist achieves by playing with volumes and by contrasting materials. It is also a process that appeals to the viewer, whom the artist challenges to reconstruct the work with his gaze and movement. A conceptual work recreating representation, a formal work articulating elementary volumes: both are directed toward a rhythmical modeling and toward a dynamics of space and its relationship to the viewer.

Alexandre Melo

Translated from the Portuguese by Helena Alves.