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
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.