“Pó” means nothing more than dust in Portuguese. The apparent simplicity of the title of the exhibition dissimulates the deep level of introspective research Paulo Brighenti’s works convey.
Dust accumulation has the ability to hide while not hiding completely. Dust is no more than loose particles that build up over a certain surface, dissimulating its essence but never distorting its shape. A bone will still be a bone and its shape will still be that of a bone. The residue that accumulated on its once shiny surface allows the viewer to understand the passage of time and its implications, but its distinguishable shape will still be recognized. Life and death coexist in it and so they do in “Pó.”
Paulo Brighenti’s (b. 1968) work and investigation in painting and drawing, on color and light, lies on a permanent equilibrium between these two opposite forces. The interdependency of antagonistic movements is expressed through exchanges between positive and negative values, light and shadow, small and large scale, close and distant views.
The dilution of recognizable motifs and others of abstract suggestion attenuates the division between things and the world from which they are outlined. Form becomes rarefied, a superficial phenomenon of immediate reading turned spectral residue of a broader meaning.
Time is prefigured as the condition for unveiling the image, as its perception depends on the habit of the spectatorʼs gaze to each new encounter. “The Diamond Sea,” a large site specific charcoal wall drawing on Rooster’s ground floor – titled after a Sonic Youth song – is the unifying element, as well as the motto for the exhibition. In it, the viewer will perceive two different images from two different perspectives. A landscape inspired on Albrecht Durer’s Alpine drawings hides in its core an anamorphosis of a skull.
This idea of an image that cannot be read or seen in its entirety at first glance has been part of Brighenti’s work and reflections about painting and its impossibilities. In the lower gallery, a vertically positioned bone (“Tower”) relates itself with the still life paintings on display on both galleries, which include recurrent figures of skulls, lilies, a conch and a turtle’s carapace. The bone will still be a bone, and its shape will still be the shape of a bone despite the dust, the old verdigris or the artist-made cuts that section it horizontally.
As George Bataille qualified Louis Ferdinand Céline’s “Voyage au Bout de la Nuit” as “the discription of the relationship a man has with his own death” (La critique sociale, January 1933), so can one perceive Brighenti’s candid metaphor on time the same way through the use of phantasmagorical images – but without Céline’s sins and tormented spirit. After all, we will all be dust in the end.
Paulo Brighenti lives and works in Cascais and is represented by Galeria Baginski (Lisbon) and Galeria Pedro Oliveira (Oporto) and his work is represented at Banco de España, Madrid (Spain), CGAC - Centro Galego de Arte Contemporâneo, Santiago de Compostela (Spain), Colecção António Cachola (Portugal), Colecção Pedro Cabrita Reis, Lisbon (Portugal), Sovereign Art Foundation, London (UK), Colecção PLMJ, Lisbon (Portugal) Fundação Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva, Lisbon (Portugal), Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon (Portugal), Museu do Chiado, Depósito Isabel Vaz Lopes, Lisbon (Portugal), among other collections.
PAULO BRIGHENTI: PÓ
EXHIBITING FROM FEBRUARY 13–MARCH 16
OPENING RECEPTION: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 6–8PM
ROOSTER GALLERY, 190 ORCHARD STREET, LOWER EAST SIDE, NYC