September 10th to October 15th, 2021
Exhibition View. Photography: Photodocumenta
Heron do Prado Nogueira
Eu sou dois seres.
O primeiro é fruto do amor de João e Alice.
O segundo é letral:
É fruto de uma natureza que pensa por imagens,
Como diria Paul Valéry.
O primeiro está aqui de unha, roupa, chapéu
O segundo está aqui em letras, sílabas, vaidades
E aceitamos que você empregue o seu amor em nós.
Manoel de Barros
“Two weights, two measures”, the saying goes. In a dualist perspective the world’s nature is composed of two forces that oppose and complement each other. In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle of hell is where the lustful suffer for their sins. It is starting at two that we can establish multiplicity, as opposed to the One, in Parmenides. The many relations we can get from analysing the number two and its cultural meanings are much like the various interpretations we could get out of the canvases in this exhibition: they are uncountable and could make us wonder, but say too little about the nature of the works presented here.
When walking into the gallery, it is possible to notice a certain weight surrounding the place, as if the weight from the paintings on the wall extended itself through the air, creating a dense atmosphere. It is clear that these paintings weigh. They don’t pretend to be something else, they are crude and hard, made out of paint. In the paintings of “2” everything contains something else, that contains another element, and another, successively until we get to the nuclei: made out of paint. The shapes and colours hugging each other seem to point to themselves, trying to make us see their matter, made of pigment and binder. It is easy to notice it’s thickness (or thinness), how it was applied to the surface, it’s transparencies and opacities. If we observe, for example, the work Chessboard #22: composed of a series of elements encapsulated by one another, it enhances the notion that every area in Beatriz’s paintings does not stand alone, but in dialogue. This painting is like a Russian doll that opens itself through containers that guide our vision to close-in at the centre square, hinting to us that every other work functions in a similar way. Through these nuclei of colour, of vestiges left by the washing of paint, and also through this guiding of our eyesight through these containing elements, we are constantly reminded that these paintings are merely pieces of cloth with paint over it, laid out by indubitably human hands.
The works in this exhibition are cryptic. They do not give themselves away freely, even though they look simple. It is required of us to look and look again, because they morph. It is true that every work of painting possesses this quality, but in these canvases there is a maximization of it, a fluctuating plasticity. The spaces between the big areas of matter are particularly responsible for this effect and for that they have immense value. Sudden colours show up in these narrow borders, small suggestions of something that was, or could be, part of the painting. The series titled In Between seems to point out the crucial role these intervals play. The relations, after all, could not be dictated only by two elements, two colours, two things, but also by everything that is between. As Zeno and his paradox about Aquiles and the turtle, the point is not the runners, but the distance between them, Beatriz draws our attention here to something that dictates the correlation of the painting elements: it’s intervals.
As it is in music, in which the melody is shaped by intervals between the notes, in painting, the spaces between elements, the clashing of areas, also shape and define forms. In these borders, these middle paths and even in the forms itself we can see the relevance of emptiness, of silence. Let’s take for example a work like Untitled, composed by a near-white area that covers most of the canvas. This area is divided by a very subtle yet present line. Surrounding it, colour couples fight to define which one contains the other, and in the end of this battle: emptiness. The painting ends — contained by the canvas — but this emptiness could extend itself indefinitely, in the same way the notes played at the guitar could extend themselves if not by the friction of the air. The air, which allows music to propagate, is the same thing that won’t make it last. In the same way, the space which allows paintings to exist also dictates its borders. This painting, much alike Chessboard #22, speaks volumes about the exhibition as a whole: the limits of the grid that stop the painting from expanding itself infinitely are no more than an accident, the emptiness before these limits is not.
In his book Cezanne: A Memoir with Conversations by Joachim Gasquet, we are taken on a journey through dialogues between the poet and the famous painter Paul Cézanne. In one of these dialogues Cézanne tells Gasquet: “The story of the world starts when two atoms bump into each other, when two whirlwinds, two chemical dances combine”. This sentence could have more credibility if coming from a scientist, but it was said by a painter, and as a painter, Beatriz naming this exhibition “2” brings us to thoughts that resonate with these. This exhibition is concise and direct (brute?), and through abstraction speaks as many languages as the symbol that names it.