Pilar Corrias Gallery is pleased to announce Remarks on Colour: an exhibition of new works by Julião Sarmento, his first with the gallery.
Born in Lisbon in 1948, Julião Sarmento studied Painting and Architecture at Escola Superior de Belas Artes in Lisbon where he received his MA in 1974. One of the most important artists of his generation, Sarmento has exhibited extensively since the 1970s. Working across painting, collage, sculpture, photography, and video Sarmento has developed a unique practice characterized by a concise visual vocabulary that explores themes of memory, transgression, seduction and desire.
The richness and complexity of Sarmento’s work lies in its system of free-floating signifiers which migrate between works and across the boundaries of medium. The use or recurring motifs such as hand gestures, parts of bodies and architectural floor plans generate a free-play of unsettling associations that refuse to settle into meaning.
Taking its title from Ludwig Wittengstein’s philosophical notes of the same name, Remarks on Colour expands Sarmento’s ongoing dissection of the mechanisms of looking to examine our sensory perception of colour. In four major new canvases the expansive white painting fields and partially erased, layered forms for which Sarmento is renowned are disrupted by the introduction of the three primaries red, yellow and blue. Silkscreened photographic images leave the white impasto surface simultaneously empty and highly charged.
In a new series of collages passages of Wittengstein’s notoriously fragmented philosophical notes on colour appear taped to the surfaces flanked by silkscreened images of a Modernist house in Silver Lake, Los Angeles and seemingly unrelated photographic images. Deliberately constructed, artificial and controlled the montage of these disjunctive elements resists coherent narrative leaving the viewer in a state of psychological limbo.
This disorientation is further compounded by a new sculptural tableau White Exit 2010/2011 – a life-size female figure rendered in bronze caught in the last moment of existing a room leaving a single glass of milk behind. The architectural detailing and milk seem to refer back to some indeterminate domestic interior, yet ultimately any attempt to superimpose meaning is futile. The subject of the work is that which is absent. For Sarmento, it is the negative space – the space outside the frame – that is active. The unnerving physicality of the sculpture functions in the same way as the “blindness” of his paintings by activating the space around the viewer as a dynamic space of possibility.
‘There is no such thing as phenomenology but there are indeed phenomenological problems.’ Wittengstein states. Charged with suggestion and ambiguity, Sarmento’s extraordinary new body of work foregrounds the impossibility of truly grasping experience.