for António Conceição Júnior

Here is a water drop


Between being just what the sky has given it

And the fertile generation of new gestures

Imprinted on a gate

Or an eave.

But nothing is decided

Between one thing and another:

As it were, the world grows

Towards another architecture

And anyway an eye sees

The explosion of new stars

- earthbound, yes, earthbound –

That nothing constrains already.

Pedro Tamen


Only that which is revealed unto us exists


Photography was born poor and hesitant, if promisingly, at the back quarters of the house where Engraving enjoyed a seniority of recognition. Initially despised by Painting, a highly prestigious aristocratic and wealthy relative of both, Photography was the new intruder in the world of visual representation and the fruit of a set of processes which appeared so impersonal and mechanical that no significant role could be foreseen. This state of affairs lasted for some time while the boundaries of each one’s own realm remained unclear and their specific regions and roles weren’t defined; eventually the senseless, ridiculous rivalry was left aside.

Today, reviewing the panorama of production which resulted from a coexistence made of paths that were at times parallel, and at other times crossed, but made as well of differences and coincidence of attributes and functions it is clear that Painting, Engraving and Photography can not only quietly claim their respective roles but also acknowledge the common benefits ensuing from the emulation of languages, media, objectives, processes and cultural effects.

After all, these relatives, initially plunged in suspicious rivalry - but already distant from the babblings of infancy and democratized to exhaustion (Photography) or recovering from the fear of having lost part of its feud (Painting) – enjoy the best of relations and even find themselves collaborating at several levels, the most important of which is the exchange of lessons in the visual field, the openness to experience-in-dialogue, the heightening of sensibility (visual, symbolic, iconic, narrative, etc.) and, often, the borrowing from one another of suggestive plastic references and formal vocabularies without quarrel or fear of notorious plagiarism.

This would be due, to a large extent, to the clear distinction in terms of media: their production processes and creative potential, the supports, the methods, the velocities of execution, their respective process cultures defined in different workshop contexts are clearly identified and easily recognizable.

Painting and Photography undoubtedly remain within different communication universes even when they turn up images that may invoke a great deal of common experiences, namely that which, I must insist, takes precedence here above the rest: the experience of the awareness of vision, in the multiple capacity of observation, registering and the process of feeling-thought applied to the visible.

This long and varied inter-exchange between Painting and Photography allows both to access a continuous supply of suggestions made available to the viewing subject who rediscovers connections and pictorial and photographical analogies in a succession of moments of identification or confrontation.

Today, we find ourselves under such a visual overload – much of it intentionally directed and also resulting in new forms of blindness though the blunting of the senses, often subject to Pavlovian conditioning – that we are now unable to point out who taught us the feeling-thought of what we see.

However, for that same reason the warning “stop, listen, look”, held out by those who tenaciously resist the potentially absolute domination of propaganda carrying images and propose a return to the experience of primordial vision of primordial objects (i.e. not yet human), is not only valid as it is increasingly more necessary.

In this exhibition, António Conceição Júnior deals above all with looking and seeing, albeit in a predefined direction, which decidedly doesn’t set out to search for the dramatic episode of human hue (which is avoided on purpose or remains beyond recognition here) or for the triumph of the canon of natural beauty, but rather seeks to emphasize the very skin of materials, which, subject to the invisible and slow labor of exposure in the course of Time reveal its surprising effects, fixed in a sort of involuntary writing that our aesthetical culture is able to contextualize giving it its own place and meaning.

The joy that can be found therein is, largely, the outcome of the possibility of capturing, through Photography, fragments that are domesticized, discovered and gleaned from the immense wild production of the anonymous universal workshop and that although residual and materially poor are nevertheless charged with strong plastic allusions, and brought into contact with the memory that shaped our sensibility, fertilized, as it were, by multiple prior visual experiences to which we now add also these, which precisely for that reason, stand out in all the rawness of a spectacle that had been previously ignored.

So, here is a selection left by the invisible hand of that discrete virtuoso painter, which is the action of time guided by the laws of Physics and Chemistry, mediated by the compassionate, fascinated look of another Painter who followed in the wake to photograph them and now to show them as if to tell us how much he would have liked to be their original author – which after all he is – because only that which is revealed unto us does exist.

António Andrade
October, 2006