February 27 - March 1, 2020


    Neptune Palace

    Madrid, ES

Rui Soares Costa © 2022  |  All Rights Reserved





         part of the curated project ATER by Ana Matos (Salgadeiras Gallery) at JUSTMAD 2020


Augusto Brázio

Inês d'Orey

Rui Horta Pereira

Rui Soares Costa

In her novel The Abyss, published in France among a full-blown May of ‘68, Marguerite Yourcenar created Zeno, the protagonist, who at some point in the story states “There is someone waiting for me. I’m going to meet him.” When asked “Who?”, Zeno replies “Hic Zeno, myself.” From this book, I have kept, above all, the drive for change and the desire to achieve freedom. Set in the 16th century, the importance given to alchemy and its transformation processes is grounded on, and should be understood today figuratively, as a metaphor. This “Oevre au Noir” (in the original French) is drawn from these alchemy treaties, where “blackness” (opus nigrum) corresponds to the turning to ashes of the magnum opus’ chemical eruptions. On this, Yourcenar herself has said : “It’s about the troubled, but also insightful life of a man who completely and willingly erases the preconceived ideas of his time to see where his own thoughts, now free, could take him”.

Written at the wake of a revolution that would shake the western world, it stresses the visionary and avant garde spirit that moves artistic practice. Artists, more than being able to render the experience of the world more beautiful, can also make it more aware, more to the point, triggering one’s sensitivity and knowledge. It is thus this ethnographic perspective, as refered by Hal Foster, and the importance of those who know they can do something, so well said by Jean-Luc Godard, and the scream that reaches us from Moore’s isle of Utopia, what makes Art, I’d risk saying, imperative in our lives. It keeps us awake, aware, available to one another, even if we are eventually always waiting for ourselves. Only then, in respecting both the individual and the collective, we can reach the liberty and justice we claim for.

Today, we are also undergoing a revolution; a quieter one, perhaps, as they are making it seem detached and distant in time and space. In her unique voice, Elis Regina sang: “Alô, alô, marciano / Aqui quem fala é da Terra / Pra variar estamos em guerra” (Hello, hello Martian man, this is Earth calling, and for a change we are at war); the war we are experiencing today can be seen in the migration crisis, in the climate changes, and in the deep social, economic, and cultural, inequalities. Indeed, not that distant, if we just think as far back as the wildfires in the Summer of 2017, in Pedrógão Grande (Portugal), the nearly thousand dead in migratory routes in the summer of 2018*, or the recent fires in Amazonia (Brasil) and Australia that devastate thousands of animals and acres of forest.

«Ater», which stands for black in Latin, starts from an assumption of rebellion, a declaration of intentions, bringing the sharp and peremptory notion of the artist as an ethnographer, avant-garde of thinking, contemporary in form and content, a “return of the real” by Foster. Stepping into a floor covered with rubber from crushed tires, we encounter the underlying wound in Augusto Brázio’s work, we have the time carved with fire by Rui Soares Costa, a subtle line between the destruction of a material and the creation of an aesthetic object that invites the viewer in, no longer letting him escape. We find Rui Horta Pereira’s “shade slashed by light”, in a graphic and poetic record, an epitaph. As Fernando Pessoa said - “I don’t want to go where there is no light” - we find the series “Antecâmara” by Inês d’Orey that gives us back this place of intimacy, modesty. And light.

Let us finish by the beginning, where in the Bible was the word, where it was dark, as described by Michel Pastoureau in “Black: The History of a Color”:

“In the beginning, God created heaven and earth. The earth was a shapeless, orderless chaos. It was a deep sea covered in darkness, yet on its waters hovered the Spirit of God. And God said: “Let there be light!” And light came to be. God thought light was a good thing and separated it from darkness.”

May this exhibition not just carry forth the myths and symbology of darkness; may it carry Yourcenar’s black spirit instead. I am, after all, over there, waiting for myself.

Ana Matos
Lisbon, February 2020

*Data refering to June-August 2018, according to “Missing Migrants — Tracking deaths along migratory routes” (https://missingmigrants.iom.int)​