Artur Barrio‘s new solo exhibition called Endless, curated by PIPA Institute’s curator Luiz Camillo Osorio and Marta Mestre, opens this Saturday, March 25, 6PM at the CIAJG. The show is part of an installation with the same title that belongs to the collection of the S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium), that was held for the first time in 2005, and since then has been reassembled on other occasions, which has the specificity of existing as a work only during the artist’s lifetime. “Endless” is a cave, a laboratory, which delves into a dream. It is achieved through a permanent gesture of tracing the meanings and non-meanings that are inherent to art and life. Infiniteness and contingency co-exist in the midst of words scribbled on walls, coffee and odours strewn on the floor, fragments, and wine that is poured and drunk. Temporality in this large installation is not linear, but spiral; and more than an isolated artistic object, “Endless” is a device to visualise history, from the point of view of the planet’s pulsating life.
“Endless” is also linked, in the artist’s biography, to other actions, especially “4 days, 4 nights”, from 1970, which can be described as a “mental proposal that had the body as support” (Artur Barrio), which consisted of aimlessly and freely wandering around the city of Rio de Janeiro, leading to his physical exhaustion. The reports of this action, made by the artist, are the only source of access to the work and the events that marked it. These reports are often vague and even contradictory, providing several versions containing some details that in others are omitted, forgotten or imagined.
Based on the assumptions of the “Endless” installation, and its ramifications throughout Artur Barrio’s work, the exhibition at the CIAJG unfolds into a broader set of works located in a timespan stretching from the 1970s to the present day, contemplating various interests and moments in Artur Barrio’s oeuvre. Conceptual “records” of actions and situations that he carried out in the 1970s and 1980s, together with films, works on fabric, paper, photographs, and views of the seabed captured from the diver’s perspective. This composition creates a flow that, in the exhibition, emphasises the artist’s “endless” gesture. The tidal flow is consistent with the flow of poetic energies that ebb and flow with each assembly of his works.
The rejection of the objectivity of art, which seminally marks his entire oeuvre, does not close the door to material emergence. Most of the time, the “situations” created by him trigger an imaginary, or even an imagined territory. Portugal, for Artur Barrio, seems to be located in this plane. A place at a distance, simultaneously mythical and prosaic, a place without a place in his emotional routes and sense of belonging. The exhibition at the CIAJG also recalls a key moment – Artur Barrio’s visit to Portugal, immediately after the Carnation Revolution. A set of actions dates from 1975, some of which are shown here, which testify to his encounter with a country and its human and social context.
In addition to the works, most of which belong to institutional and private collections in Portugal and Belgium, as well as the artist’s personal collection, there are several documents and photographs in the exhibition space that explain his relationship with the sea, with the African continent, with the expressive power of a plastic production linked to the ancestral forces of humanity. There is no hierarchy established between the different supports. The main emphasis is placed on Barrio’s aesthetic operations and thinking. In the context of the conceptual production of contemporary art, we see a work that asserts itself against its epoch. Everything is noise, estrangement and rigour.
About the artist:
Artur Barrio was born in Porto in 1945. In 1952 he travelled with his family to Angola and in 1955 to Brazil, where he established residence. As an artist, he spent long periods of time in Europe from the 1970s onwards. In 1974 he visited Portugal to gain a first-hand view of the Carnation Revolution. Today Artur Barrio lives in Guanabara Bay on his boat “Pélagos”. This brief biography traces a flow of different transits and crossings in which the sea, in its symbolic and real dimension, assumes a central place in his oeuvre: that of the solitary navigator facing the empty ocean.
A key figure in contemporary art, Artur Barrio (b. 1945) occupies a central place in the history of Brazilian and Portuguese art. His first works, from the late 1960s, made in the context of the military dictatorship in Brazil, trace the lexicon of his entire artistic production: poetic wanderings, projects, “Registers”, “FreeNotebooks”, “Situations”, “Projects ” which, as a whole, contain an implicit criticism of the production of works of art and the process of circulation and valuation. Artur Barrio considers that there is no limited field for art and his proposals reject standardised languages imposed by the art world. The materials he generally uses, connoted with an abject or ephemeral materialism, acquire an unconscious and physical dimension, which is simultaneously poetic and political.
Artur Barrio received the 2011 Velázquez Plastic Arts Prize and the EDP Foundation’s 2016 Grand Art Prize, among several others. His work is represented in the most distinguished collections of contemporary art museums.
Both the curators talked to the artist about his trajectory and the processes behind his artworks in a conversation published on the Portuguese magazine Contemporânea. You can read it here (it’s only available in Portuguese).
“Endless”, solo show by Artur Barrio
From March 25 to September 3rd, 2023
Centro Internacional das Artes José de Guimarães
Av. Conde Margaride, 175, 4810-525 Guimarães, Portugal
T. (+351) 253 424 715