Curator: Antonia Gaeta
13 April 2019 – 15 September 2019
Centro de Arte Oliva
The rhetorical apprehension of a specific strangeness
In the chronicle Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge, Jorge Luis Borges wrote about “a certain Chinese encyclopaedia” in which he catalogued species and different shapes in a random and subjective way. Every one of those shapes could assume a meaning or a substance created ad hoc for the situation that could basically be used for all things in the universe according to the level of interest and imagination of the readers. This apparent disorder or non-rigorous cataloguing made the coexistence of a great number of realities possible and found a place capable of welcoming objects and ideas.
In a simple exercise of comparison and analogy – conditio sine qua non for all sorts of intellectual production -, “that” Chinese encyclopaedia seemed to be the most suitable in order to explain the ideas that underlie and materialise in the exhibition Extravaganza.
A certain strangeness that is present in the artworks, the obsession with the obscene and nonsense, the refusal of logical rules, several etcetera (as Borges would say), the abstractions, the taste for the absurd, the chaos, the incongruence and all kinds of paradox, are assembled in an irreverent and discontinuous fashion, in an ingenious, ambiguous and redundant exhibition design, with several white walls.
A softly announced feeling of surprise surrounds the exhibition: the artworks don’t belong to the same genre or a specific geographical area, or even the same historical period. The artists are sometimes anonymous, unknown or working under pseudonyms. Almost illiterate, without artistic or literary training, they are, however, capable of bringing a great spiritual and creative emotion through drawings and portraits of never seen before landscapes, hard to catalogue physiognomies, the obsessive repetition mixed with autofiction and possibly the promise of another identity.
And here the artist’s biography helps contextualise and better understand – in case some find it necessary – the artworks: all of them, to a greater or lesser extent, had complex lives, irreparable losses, accidents, went through deprivations, were persecuted and cast aside, had multidimensional and extra-terrestrial experiences.
Through a creativity that is free from reason it is possible that they have found the access keys to the beyond and, perhaps, had the possibility to create other connections with body and mind. All these suppositions are possible, at least I like to think that.
However, what is favoured in Extravaganza is the pars destruens of the Treger/Saint Silvestre collection, in other words, the analysis of the relation between the idea of beauty and harmony that is done through a set of artworks whose common denominator is a non-linear speculative dynamic; an erratic or rapidly changing situation, unusual, bizarre. An extravagating that replaces ratio and norms with intuition and the visionary, that combines brilliance and revelry, dementia and insanity with contradictory and anomalous situations.
Photography: Dinis Santos
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