ST #17641 2107

It is with great pleasure that we announce ST#17641, the first solo show by Rui Neiva at the gallery ! 

Tuesday , March 26 | 8 – 11 PM

26.03 – 25.05.2024


Luísa Soares de Oliveira

exhibition text

When looking at Rui Neiva's series of works, I immediately think of a shot from The Cave of Lost Dreams, Werner Herzog's 2012 film, in which archaeologists studying the prehistoric paintings in the Chauvet cave showed a reconstruction of the painting process on a particular wall. In it, they saw the silhouette of a man standing, stylus in hand, drawing the profile of a horse's head. The archaeologist explained that the work would have been done by a person around 1.80 metres tall.

Many thousands of years later, much hasn't changed in the process of painting. The mentality and what the Palaeolithic men thought is definitively closed to us. But today, as has always been the case since anything was drawn on a surface, work is dependent on the physical limits of the body of the person doing it, and on the ability to invent tools that increase our meagre capacities. Without the stylus smeared with charcoal, the author of the paintings on the cave walls wouldn't have reached as high as he did. Without the light provided by a torch, he wouldn't have been able to see the support in the deepest recesses of the cave. Just as he perfected arrow-shaped flint stones for hunting, he created the means he needed to draw.

Today, Rui Neiva's work comes from a very clear awareness of something similar, and this despite the centuries that separate it from those early days of the long human journey. His work reveals a primordial impulse: the manifestation of the need to create a certain object, to create a certain painting; and the incessant search for the technical means to make that possible. And this manifestation also coexists with the freedom that the fluid matter of the painting has to manifest itself as it truly is, before the artist subjects it to the limits of form or even representation. As has always been the case.

One of the signs of this primordial impulse are the delicate drawings made with the aid of a magnifying glass which, positioned in the direction of the sun's rays, burns the paper. Let us remember that the mythical origin of drawing, according to the Greeks, lay in the shadow projected on a wall, fixed with a stroke by the young bride who wanted to remember her lover forever; in a way, it was already then, as it is here, a result of the action of the sun's rays. On the other hand, the paintings acquire the status of objects, displayed on grids ingeniously arranged in the gallery space so as to involve the viewer in their contemplation. Like other prestigious artists before him - Robert Morris is a name we immediately associate with this work, but Rothko isn't far behind either - Rui Neiva aims to create a total installation that will capture the viewer in the contemplation of the chromatic and physical richness of each work, and even of the entire surrounding space.

Thus, there is a rigidly planned, thought-out, materialised component to this work. A visit to the artist's studio brings us face to face with a world of manufactured devices for lifting, lowering and moving paintings of considerable scale around the room, and others that function as paintbrushes for applying paint. Rui Neiva, in addition to an advanced degree in fine arts, is also an engineer, and the affinities between all the devices he builds to materialise his work and the inventions of a Duchamp (or a Tinguely, another inventor of works of art that made use of technique and mechanics) are not at all fortuitous. Duchamp, the same man who was called the "engineer of lost time" and who mounted bicycle wheels on benches to create visual effects in the corner of his studio...

There is also a bicycle wheel in Rui Neiva's studio, and he tells us that it, along with other devices that produce movement, are used to apply paint to his work. And that's when reason, planning, is put aside to give way to chance. Through white, the first colour to be placed on the canvas, which will then always appear by subtraction; through the three primary colours, the only which he uses and combines in infinite tonal variations, Rui Neiva lets into his work what he doesn't control, what approaches the unspeakable and, why not say it, the ineffable. If the extension of the hand - the utensil that paints - is always manufactured, no matter how complex it may be, in the application of colour, primacy is given to what does not fit into the words with which we speak, nor even into the totality of a description. This really is the place of painting.


ST# 17641
26.03 – 25.05.2024
Exhibition text : Luísa Soares de Oliveira
Exhibition photography : Bruno Lopes 
Video : João Silva

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