Night torn off painting
1. The title of the entry for Night in Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse reads: “And the Night Illuminated the Night”.
2. The title of this exhibition, Paintings torn from the Night, contains a triad of words that form the ontology of the works shown here. They are unquestionably paintings, although the set of actions that ultimately leads to them has an eminently performative quality. This, however, does not jeopardize their medial status. These paintings – or at least the canvasses that originate them – are literally torn from the walls on which they are laid by the artist (although, of course, both the canvasses and the walls are subject to prior intervention). Despite the fact that this succession of actions takes place at different times, it is at night – that transgressive time – when Marta Soares torn them from the walls.
The entire work is transgressive. To begin with, the artist uses walls that are outside, in the public space, appropriating previous interventions, many of which are practically invisible and more often than not apocryphal (except for the tags). The canvases are torn off mostly at night, away from strangers’ eyes. The very methodology is alien to the pictorial tradition of a common way of painting that inhabits the collective imagination.
The whole process is complex and addresses a pictorial intuition that originates in the exercise of looking at an omnipresent vernacular imagery: the walls that can be seen by any passer-by, and the layers of visual information accumulated on them. There is thus the awareness of a palimpsest whose everyday hyper-visibility often renders it invisible. At the same time, the operative matrix of visual culture is apparent in this process, i.e., the accumulation, concealment, succession, unveiling and adding of images and other sign information.
However, in Marta Soares’ oeuvre there is no analysis or decryption of the dynamics operated by and on images; they are collected, torn off and guided without loosing sight of the fact that the visual regime has a will of its own; or that there are discussions that occur only within the sphere of the image. Therefore, the process – or at least part of it – will always remain obscure, clad in an obscurity that Roland Barthes associates with the night. The artist tears night off painting: the good night and the evil night; the night that takes place always; the night that is work; the night that is light; the night that is gaze.
The night grows in these paintings. That is what happens when what is added is always something that is torn off, and when what is torn off is always something that is added. Marta Soares’ paintings are a night in which one is awake.
Ana Cristina Cachola