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Environment - Dining Room (1971) - Ana Vieira (1940-2016)

(PID:49086771662) Source
posted by Pedro Ribeiro Simões alias pedrosimoes7 on Monday 18th of November 2019 08:30:08 PM

Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Modern Collection, Lisbon, Portugal Material: Painted nylon nets and painted wooden table and dishes, glass cups and stainless steel knives; Sound Collection: Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Modern Collection Inv.: 78E608 ABOUT THE WORK Ambiente – Sala de Jantar (Environment – Dining Room) by Ana Vieira was the first in a series of three installations entitled Ambientes, which the artist produced between 1971 and 1972. Constituted as a double structure of light, translucent netting, in the manner of a weightless white and blue labyrinth, it encloses in its core a white table laid with glasses, plates, and cutlery, surrounded by an initial parallelepiped of suspended blue netting, in which four chairs in perspective arise like absent forms whose well-defined contours paradoxically announce a non-existent materiality. This inner “cube” is in turn protected and enclosed by a larger one that delimits the space of the dining room, separating it from the exterior. In the latter, the chromatic values are inverted, the shapes of objects and furniture recognisable from the domestic interior are now simulated, spray-painted in blue on the dozen white sheets that make up the perimeter of the divide: a wall clock, console, dresser, chest of drawers with candelabra, door, curtained window, two oval pictures of flowers, and a chair. All of these accessories belong inside, but, seen from the outside, they make this space appear familiar and strange at the same time. Composed in accordance with the criteria of an average, somewhat traditional taste, on which the artist seems to cast an ironic gaze, the Ambiente leads us to reflect on the symbolic values associated with the house in Western culture, in the bundle of contrary and relative attributes pertaining to it: private/public, interior/exterior, full/empty, shade/ light, desire/appearance… As a project that is scenographic in nature, this installation – in common with the other two that Ana Vieira would create shortly afterwards – reveals an important development in the artist’s visual creation, from the post-pictorial recreation of objects in daily use in earlier works, to a work that, above all, is related to a phenomenology of physical and social spaces. Feeding off a contrast between the tangible object and its design and plan as a shape in space, the Ambientes are constituted as stage scenery, a small theatre of shadows that is completed by the introduction of sound elements: the recording of noises and sounds associated with the use of the staged spaces, in this case, a dining room where elegantly arranged and designed objects contrast with the echoes and murmurs of a shared meal. In Ambiente – Sala de Jantar, the sound envelops and captivates the observer as much as does the visual image, in the contemplation of the reserved and somewhat oppressive charm of a bourgeoisie interior space, in which the rigour governing the arrangement of the objects reveals the cliché of the banality and unchanging order of things, as if the space were a sanctuary. Let us recall Jean Baudrillard when he speaks to us of spaces and objects as contradictory systems of signs and codes (here moulded in blue, the most immaterial of colours*) that fatally imprison the freedom of the human being.** Ana Filipa Candeias May 2010 * Cf. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, Dictionnaire des Symboles, Paris, Robert Laffont, 1987. ** Jean Baudrillard, For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign, St. Louis, Telos Press, 1983. SOURCE: BIOGRAPHY Born in Coimbra, Ana Vieira spent her childhood on the island of São Miguel, Azores, and later moved to Lisbon to graduate in Painting from the School of Fine Arts (1964). Since then, however, her path would be defined by a departure from the medium of painted canvas, in pursuit of staged and theatrical constructions or of the manipulation of figures and objects, creating “simulacrums” that essentially address allegory and memory. Four decades of work are bound together by an uncommon coherence, obtained through the poetical operation by which Ana Vieira always ventures to set images and objects free from their material and worldly existence – whether through environments, installations, sets, cuttings or montages. Ana Vieira lives and works in Lisbon. Ana Vieira was studying painting when she began veering away from it – not only did she consider herself unskilful, but she also felt that the pictorial medium was undermining her artistic expression. Ana Vieira started to exhibit early on, and the title of her first solo show, Imagens Ausentes [Absent Images] (Galeria Quadrante, Lisbon, 1968), already made clear that, though the tyranny of the canvas was overcome, she would carry on working within the domain of the image – but necessarily in an experimental way. Still, in the 1960s, Ana Vieira showed profiles and cuttings of objects and figures, whose mimetic renderings are nonetheless illusory, because even though they might be identified, they are but an outline of forms that are empty on the inside, that are absent. From this moment on, she conceives her works as intentional “simulacrums” of the things they depict. In her work, Ana Vieira mainly chose objects of domestic usages, such as furnishing pieces (tables, cupboards, consoles, mirrors) in wood, later homogenized by industrial paint. Her figures are also devoid of identity, in successive silhouettes and outlines of human busts, but also in the profiles of full bodies in motion or in tension, drawn on screens and surfaces. From the 1970s onwards, such post-pictorial recreation of common objects led Ana Vieira to prefer installations as the preferred artistic mode and to ground the territory of her work in the semiotics of physical and social spaces. The conception of sceneries appeared as a possibility to build an open work, through which the artist breached the divisions between painting and sculpture and conceived works according to the surrounding space with which they communicate. When Ana Vieira first showed her environments, already in 1971 and 1972, she rose to a prominent place in Portugal’s artistic avant-garde, having participated in that decade’s seminal exhibition, Alternativa Zero [Zero Alternative] (1977). With these installations, conceived as inhabitable places that re-enact houses and their subsequent domestic rituals, Ana Vieira’s simulacrums thus reached far broader ranges and meanings, finding a focus on the intimacy and memory preserved by private spaces. And with the evolution of such a highly symbolic language also came the proliferation of household items such as tables, windows, doors, chairs. However, despite the spotless formal simplicity of Ana Vieira’s works, recalling the shadows of Lourdes Castro or Michelangelo Pistoletto’s mirrors, our visual perception of theirs spaces is troubled by the play of transparencies, veils, screens, nets and webs which involve them. The onlooker ends up in the role of a voyeur, trying to capture the interior of her environments through door slits and peepholes. Most of her works are not seen, but rather peeked at, a tension avowed by the title of Ana Vieira’s longest-lasting project, Ocultação / Desocultação [Hide / Unhide] (1978-2009). The physical and visual impenetrability of her private spaces deliberately restates the divide between art and life, in installations that are as much about seeing as they are about living. The appeal of scenography also pushed Ana Vieira to more diverse experiences, such as the creation of sets and figurines for theatre (plays by Adolfo Gutkin, Bertolt Brecht and Jean-Paul Sartre), projects to reconfigure sites, houses and landscapes, or site-specific pieces for museums. But, most importantly, the artistic practice of installations and the manipulation of three-dimensional objects is still cultivated in her work, prompted by poetical claims not far from those that first fueled her work back in the mid-1960s. In consideration of this cohesive career, which has been under continuous renovation in the solo shows being presented along the years, Ana Vieira received the Portuguese art critics award, the AICA/SEC (1991), and the Serralves Foundation in Porto hosted her first anthological exhibition. Between 2010 and 2011, the Centre of Modern Art, in collaboration with the Carlos Machado Museum in Ponta Delgada (Azores), showcased the artist’s largest retrospective to date. Afonso Ramos April 2011 SOURCE:

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