Exhibition running from November 22nd until January 10th 2018

Curatorship by António Pedro Mendes


::: Dialogue Series with Amílcar de Castro :::

From September to December, Primner Gallery presents the Series “Dialogues with Amilcar de Castro”, with the goal of bringing to Lisbon Brazilian artists that work today with the heritage of Concrete and Neo Concrete Art. In second dialogue, Primner presents  “Isaura Pena, Nanquim On Paper, Geography of Looking”

Isaura Pena, Nanquim On Paper, Geography of Looking

For Isaura Pena artistic activity doesn’t necessarily mean the construction of an artistic object in the landscape, but an activity where one can create an experience throughout the spread of nanquim (Indian ink) on paper. It is in this contract with nature that the author starts to draw trees, driving us towards the enjoyment of nature decoded in her drawings.

Her artistic residency was made far from the hustle of big cities. It is interesting to see how the work of Isaura Pena by observing a wonderful tree named Sobreiro (Cork Tree), send us back for a good feeling of the kindness of human beings and their physical health. This tree, maybe the noblest in Portugal, was drawn by the greatest of the nobles, King D. Carlos in 1905, as we can see in the oil painting now exhibited in the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza in Vila Viçosa.

Sobreiros (Cork Trees) give us the feeling of relaxation that make us feel closer to mother nature. On the other hand, the relationship of these drawings with the sculptures of Amilcar de Castro, take us to a reassuring environment.
In this exhibition the assemblage of colors, lines and stains invites us to an aesthetic experience, a relational experience with colors and of different smells that offer us some kind of serenity and exaltation of meanings. Also we cannot forget that the cork tree gives us the corkscrews of the bottle of the delicious nectar we drink…

The intense grey, the dark grey or the almost transparent grey; the composition of shapes, the light that unites these substances, and that unites the natural world to the world of drawings and ideas take us to a journey imagined by the author in the Natural Park of Arrábida. Looking at her work, we track the ways of her authorial project that she has been developing in the last decades, characterized by the ambivalence of being in a harmonious environment and the relationship with others ( in the school, for example) and being away from the crowds, the quotidian full of stress, obligations and pretenses.

As we these images and we see plain trunks, naked of leaves, the dichotomy light/dark, life flows slowly and we breath much better. If we look at the peel of a tree, we know that not that far there is a stone, a hung trunk. We see the effects of light during the day and we lose our defenses. This enjoyment of senses is given to the gaze of the ones who want to see the syncretic drawings of Isaura Pena.
This world of beauty, of shapes and colors, plants, flowers and trees, is equally present in the sculptures of Amilcar de Castro. It is equally present in whole universal.

These drawings are like a summary in the domain of spirituality, like a communion with nature. Each drawing belongs to something more global, where humanity and plants form a unity that was firstly materialized by Amilcar de Castro between Earth/Iron/Steel/Wood/Stone, and later by Isaura Pena, in the works she developed throughout her career and that will give the motto to this adventure of artistic residencies at Primner Gallery.

It is to highlight in the work of the drawing the Indian ink used and the artisanal way of treating the material, that creates various layers on the rough surface of the paper. This rough surface creates a big variety of shades of grey, disclosing, in their final version, a version of the nature more faithful to itself. A nature that doesn’t reveal everything but at the same time doesn’t hide anything.

Isaura Pena, in this exhibition, creates an ensemble of works where we can observe an authentic work, more truthful and less consensual. An art that pull us way from the society of the actual “Rococo”, that take us to permanent decorative scenarios, full of strong colors and emotions where our retina is tested every 5 seconds, that where the bourgeoisie navigates on networks and where the images disappear at every second. Isaura Pena, with nanquim on paper, present us with drawings almost austere, but, at the same time, of unique beauty that take us to the origin of ourselves.
This work also show us to what extend the artist felt the residency as something that can help her to expand various concepts of her work. The observation and register of natural shapes of the South of Portugal, can be a starting point to develop new subjects of interest to, in a not too distance future, be new referents of her work.

Isaura creates a gradual immersion in the environment that explores new elements, shapes and frameworks that are analyzed gradually by way of achieving truthful feelings and sensations that guided the production of this exhibition. We got out more fulfilled from this experience.

Thank you very much, Isaura Pena


Lisbon 18/11/2018
António Pedro Mendes