Galeria Filomena Soares is pleased to present the latest solo exhibition by the artist João Penalva (Lisbon, 1949). The exhibition opens with a private view on Thursday 22 May at 9.30pm and continues until 13 September 2014.
This exhibition presents photographic works from 2014 and a video work from 2007 which has never been shown in Portugal. Pavel Rodriguez", who recently interviewed the artist about this exhibition, states that ‘these works demonstrate that, for João Penalva, there is nothing in the world that cannot become material for work, just as, for John Cage, there was no sound on earth that couldn't become an idea for a composition.'
‘All these works are scrupulously real in scale, as if there were a forensic intention in depicting situations so ordinary that they are normally invisible to all who now recognise them. Is this the task of the artist: to shake us out of our distraction, enabling us to discover that life is more interesting than we thought?'
‘Some of the images are of patched-up, broken and dirty pavements on streets close to the artist's London studio. They take their titles from the precise postcode of the building they run in front of, which, rather than mythologising them with a classificatory code, creates the possibility of locating them on Google Maps. But how it is possible for the palimpsest of an entire urban history of accidents, functional design, of utilities, to be transformed into images which, almost like paintings, suggest both lyrical and geometric abstraction?'
‘There are also images of decrepit cactuses in Lisbon, with names carved into them. The fact that someone has inscribed names and initials on such a fragile support is a moving manifestation of the ephemerality of a moment compared with its remembrance. They are nostalgic images - small-format black and white photographs, from which all trace of contemporaneity has been removed.'
‘Similarly, watching the simple filmed image of a ray of light, which becomes confused with the beam from the projector that makes the image visible, we lose ourselves in enjoyment of a dance of specks of dust which, as a result of a decisive authorial gesture by the artist, lasts for exactly four minutes.'
Pavel Rodriguez also states that ‘the photographic act, in Penalva's work, always anticipates a fictionalisation of the image'. In response, Penalva says ‘these images are images of the original image. It is the printing method that redefines them as images which have forgotten their strictly documentary origin. That is the fiction.'
Pavel Rodriguez is a writer and art critic. He lives in Mexico City.