Graça Fonseca

Perejaume’s exhibition,“Two Geographies,” combined recent works and some from past years. The selection produced a systematic and somewhat didactic tone, and the analytic tendency clearly overshadowed the ambiguity otherwise characteristic of Perejaume’s works.

The central theme of his work is the problematic relationship between art and nature, seen through an analysis of the landscape. Nature, through landscape, provides an already created background, a virtual fountainhead of artistic images and objects. But the movement from “natural” to “artistic” implies the intervention of the artist. In this way, the function of the artist is precisely that of formalizing this movement, and giving this process artistic legitimacy. Mar Signat (Signed sea, 1988), a photograph of the sea signed by the author, or the works with frames installed in natural contexts, reproduce the landscape and bring it into the gallery.

Yet here a problem arises: Perejaume does not account for emotion, feeling, and the human impulse felt in the relationship with nature. The sense of the “sublime” in landscape leads to our desire to possess landscape’s image, and results in an artistic form in which such possession becomes the privileged hypothesis of that desire. But the material result of the process—the artistic form—is always a formal, codified system, a representative convention, and a construction that results from the application of language. Language, although autonomous, exists as a set of methods, traditions, and works accumulated throughout the history of art and its relationship with nature.

This is where the possibility of an equivalence between art and nature appears. If the attraction for “natural landscapes” cannot be satisfied without the intervention of a language game, which is already necessarily conventional and unnatural, then the starting point may be the history of art itself as a trove of “produced landscapes,” a provider of images and objects that is as rich as nature itself.

In this way, the relationship between art and nature becomes bivocal. The artist can thus take the gallery to nature or take painting to the landscape. Pintura per a Exteriors (Painting for exteriors, 1990) is a photograph of a landscape where fragments of painted shapes have been placed. The artist may begin either from the vision of a natural landscape or from its reproduction according to the traditions of painting.

Le Trompe L’Oeil du Plein Air (The trompe l’oeil of the open air, 1990), a seminal piece in this show, is made up of two elements located next to each other on the wall: a photograph of a landscape in which a set of variously colored objects has been placed, suggesting paint oozing out of tubes, and, next to it, a painting representing the same landscape, without the previous forms, painted in accordance with the conventions of traditional landscape painting. Les Coses (The things, 1991), is also made up of two elements side-by-side, but this time on the floor: a small mound of earth and a mound of acrylic paint in assorted colors. At stake is the relationship between earth and paint, landscape andpainting, nature and art.

Perejaume’s analytical deconstruction, so strong in this exhibition, demonstrates his desire to show us the “natural” physicality of both art and the landscape.

Alexandre Melo

Translated from the Portuguese by David Prescott.