View of “Diogo Pimentão,” 2013.

View of “Diogo Pimentão,” 2013.

Diogo Pimentão

Yvon Lambert Bookshop

View of “Diogo Pimentão,” 2013.

Since the early 2000s, Diogo Pimentão has been obsessively questioning the conventions and possibilities of drawing. Paper and graphite are the raw materials par excellence through which this London-based Portuguese artist explores three major themes: weight, space, and materiality. For him, the experience of looking at a drawing should become a physical encounter with a three-dimensional body. Thus, the title of his recent exhibition “Oblique Gravity” evokes the forces that defy equilibrium and the way in which both objects and people constantly inhabit a space between balance and instability.

“Oblique Gravity” featured a new series of works, “Fascia,” 2013–, born from a strict set of procedures. First, Pimentão fills the total area of a sheet of white paper with water-diluted graphite, which he applies until the paper assumes an opaque, dense, and almost metallic gray-black surface. He employs such atypical tools such as lead markers and iron bars to imprint lines and other marks on the paper. Each mark reflects an action made on the monochrome surface and is connected with a particular gesture; taken together, the motions that produces these marks are a sort of performance, (quite often very violent) that the artist carries out in his studio. Finally, he mounts the paper as one would a canvas, on wooden stretchers.

The paper starts out as a fragile surface, which Pimentão covers and then carves, as if it were a piece of stone or clay. The material gains weight and strength until it is able to absorb the violence of the actions inflicted on it. Beyond representing metal or the possibilities of sculpture within a drawing, Pimentão is attempting to depict strength itself as well as a blind choreography of gestures—blind because the gestures are meant not to be seen, only to be imagined, and also because the remnants of these gestures exist merely as indentations in the black surface, visible only from close-up.

Alongside “Fascia,” Pimentão presented two new sculptures, Stand Turn (Monochrome) and Through (Stack), both 2013, that follow a similar process, but instead of the paper being presented on a stretcher hung on the wall, it is folded into either rectangular- or semicircular- shaped structures. In both cases, the drawings become objects that have a very physical relationship to the body of the spectator. The weight they seem to embody and the space they take up in the gallery have a direct impact not only on the viewer’s circulation within the exhibition but also on the way she visualizes the materiality of the drawing sculptures. Also on hand was a small sculpture titled Cri (diagonal), 2011, which is constructed from two pieces of raw graphite placed so as to form an accidental anatomy: an open mouth that is breathing, exhaling, or indeed shouting as the title suggests. Rather than being ground down to create fillings for pencils, the graphite has become the drawing and the subject itself.

Filipa Oliveira