View of “Rui Chafes,” 2017. Photo: Alcino Gonçalves.

Rui Chafes

Galeria Filomena Soares

View of “Rui Chafes,” 2017. Photo: Alcino Gonçalves.

Entering the exhibition space, one saw two parallel rows of vertical sculptures, apparently abstract, in black iron. This material and color are hallmarks of the art of Rui Chafes, as is the vertical format that the artist (in texts and conversations) relates to European architecture and gothic sculpture, and places in opposition to the horizontality that he considers characteristic of modern sculpture (except for Giacometti, whose evocation here may not be by accident)—above all, the American sculpture of the second half of the twentieth century.

Given the exhibition title “Incêndio” (Burning), one might have thought of the aftermath of a violent fire. What has burned? A cathedral, of which only some blackened columns remain? A forest, of which only some charred tree trunks are left? Of course, we would never know for certain if we were walking in the nave of a cathedral or

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