The architecture and urbanism have always been reference subjects for Rodrigo Oliveira's work (Sintra, 1978), explored in a variety of mediums, predominantly sculpture and installation,
but still with a strong, intense and wide chromatism. However, painting has never been the chosen register.
“Sex, shadow boxing and a wall” the title of the sixth solo exhibition of the artist at Galeria Filomena Soares, shows an installation, sculptures and 100 paintings on wooden card in a
game of lenses -sometimes enlarging, others occulting - with images from the traditional Japanese prints Shunga (spring pictures) and the Namban folding screens. Between 1600 and 1900 in
Japan thousands of paintings, engravings and illustrated books were produced with explicit sex scenes; almost always tender, playful and beautiful, these images convey a positive and free
sense of sexual pleasure, accessible to all. Although the Japanese regime of these centuries was based on strict laws following the doctrine of Confucius, private life in practice was less
controlled, and Shunga production is a unique phenomenon in artistic pre- modern output not only concerning quantity and quality but above all for its erotic theme. What makes Rodrigo
Oliveira's series “Between Four Walls” at various levels remarkable and a milestone in its journey, is as part of a temporal and cultural period, distinct from his previous works in which
modernism was the reference and the culture was the western one. Now the referents are from the seventeenth and eighteenth century and the Orient. As if this were not enough, he decides
not for sculpture and installation, languages that we identify with his production - and that are also present in the exhibition - but for painting, more precisely watercolors.
Through the past two years he painted obsessively and devotionally almost as if one was praying or repeating a litany, these papers, whose motives were taken from the Shunga painting but
in which the bodies and explicit sexual content were removed, the phalluses and genitals of these “paintings of spring “ in which lifeblood and other liquids flow; leaving only the floor,
the ceiling, the stripes, the floral or geometric patterns of the typical walls of Japanese architecture, flowers, birds, garden, a blind, a Pagoda.
Although they refer to domestic or interior environments of houses, they resemble stages, scenographies for sexual acts that, now omitted, install in these watercolors a double sensuality:
that of painting itself, the meticulous and delicate act of painting and the withdrawing bodies, softly and gently removed leaving only their surroundings.
Not only is painting a cosa mentale, but also sex becomes - if it is not always - cosa mentale, now that we do not have access to its representation and figuration, and it remains only a
pair of slippers remain, barefooted in a haste, we think, by the form they are misaligned on the floor; a tree stump, now a table with a precisely layed object, a pipe? The accumulation of
pleasures, smoking after sex... Only this is left in these works, but our imagination shoots in various fantasies of what could have been represented in the paintings from which these
In aesthetic terms, they seem to come out of a comic book, namely Hergé's Tintin in the way the line is very well defined, the famous clear line that is not only a graphic style but also
narrative, readable, in which the drawing rests on what it wants to count. Thus, in “Between Four Walls,” what now seems it wants to tell, are stories of spaces and architectures, stories
of walls that have received bodies in light colors ranging from the softness ocher and roses to other bright colors, yellow and saturated reds that suggest pop art.
In the process of these paintings, Rodrigo Oliveira arrives at the Namban folding screens, more precisely painting the details of the backs of the screens, painting what is behind, the
hidden and reaches an almost monochromatic, atmospheric register. Not by chance the word Namban in Japanese means “wall”.
A wall, literally a wall is the work that can be seen in the second room, entitled “Transladação” shown for the first time in Madrid in the Project Rooms of Arco art fair in 2018. And here
we are in what is the territory with which we identify the work of Oliveira: architecture and modern- ism as references. “Transladação” refers to the passage of time, the moss and water of
many modern places-spaces today abandoned, ruins, archeology of the modern.
And to unite the before and after the “Diabolos”, sculptures that depart from the lamps designed by Corbusier and now revisited with materials of much more prosaic origins and of daily
use, another characteristic of Oliveira's work, like the old measuring cups that are used (or were used) in grocery stores to move and measure cereals and now display lamps.
And to unite everything, the postcard that Walter Gropius wrote to Corbusier in Japan in 1954 and there is a temple with a Japanese Zen garden in Kyoto and the words of those who feel
excited, literally “excited”, in front of the encounter with the Japanese architecture and culture.
“Sex, Shadow boxing and a Wall” is an exhibition that recalls the excitement of the first encounters, be it the awakening of sexuality in the play of Hide and Seek in which the bodies hide
and touch or others more elaborated like the intellectual pleasure facing a building or a painting.
Dust, weather, silence and sound, rust and air are for Jonathan Hill perceived absences of matter that nevertheless physically constitute architecture. In his fascinating book 'Immaterial
Architecture' he plays this model of an architecture that grows from the insubstantial, against the modernist house, which he deems consistent, self-contained, waste-free.
Transparency and light, which impersonate modernism, are for him a paradoxical camouflage - a solely visual device - meant to insulate and prevent the transmission of the building's self-
sufficient power. In an almost literary reading, Hill talks about the symbolism of dust in relation to architecture, as lived matter, expelled as undesirable detritus from the modernist
building 'Livingwith dust may even be poetic in that it is living with a little bit of everything on the planet.'
We learn that4 as modernism considered alien particles, accidents, dust as extrinsic and out of place in the context of the functional building-inhabitant relationship, Le
Corbusier defended that white walls are morally superior to other finishes.
Interventions in modernist architectures are therefore by definition a challenge to the ideology, structure and functionality that these forms induce to the space and the user. Silvia
Guerra, the Portuguese curator and director of Lab'Bel artistic laboratory, talks about her two curatorial projects at le Corbusier's Villa Savoye in Paris: 'The Light Hours' (Haroon
Mirza, 2014) and 'De La Ville a la Villa. Chandigarh Revisted' (Ana Perez Quiroga, Rodrigo Oliveira, 2016);
'There is always something in this house that brings you back to the house… For me there is no neutral space and in my curatorial work I play with the codes of what even a white cube can
represent. In my projects at Villa Savoye I was interested to create dialogues between artists and the architecture, working with the functions of these modernist buildings. The Villa
Savoye is a weekend house for a couple and a son and was at a given point abandoned. It functions presently as a national monument empty of life. Every time I came back to this place, I
saw the building consumed by this emptiness, old, used. But I also realized that this modernist patrimony is still flexible in terms of architecture: the monument itself can almost
disappear when you put something inside because it is so structured. Architecture conditions you. In both exhibition, the artists when placing their works in the bedroom of the parents and
in the room of the child in the precise locations of the bed (without knowing the original function of that place). It is therefore very interesting to do a show in this house, thinking at
the functions of this house.'
The utopia of a House of Frictionless Living, is the origin of the well known dictum of Le Corbusier that the house is a 'machine for living'. Alexander Klein, a contemporary of Le
Corbusier delivered in 1928 the concept of a private life devoid of social interaction. His project of a 'House of Frictionless Living', talks about the house in terms of a machine and
offers design examples which reduce the possibility of accidental encounters inside the home, which could lead to social friction. Functionalism required a direct relationship between form
and the behaviour it generates and affirmed a principle of determinism. In this sense, the modernist adherent and user is regarded as passive and predictable in his architectural
assimilation and his movements and reactions can be pre- designed according to universal needs.
The ramifications of his perception on the architectural complex in Chandigarh are manifold also for Rodrigo Oliveira. In his atelier, showing his installative works and his boxes filled
with piles of research and documentation notebooks, images and sketches that have emerged from his year long preoccupation with modernism, he talks about Michael Fried's theory of the
theatricality of minimal art and the way in which it applies to architecture for him. Michael Fried was differentiating between what he praised as 'art' and what he critisezed as
Fried was accusing Donald Judd and Robert Morris of confusing the definition of the two terms and of working with objects in a relational way in the three-dimensional space. For Fried
their works nevertheless stayed hollow, as the objects did not transgres their initial objecthood and functioned in a theatrical way.
In his work, Rodrigo Oliveira accesses
different genealogies of information, while their confluence is conceived by him in terms of post-conceptual minimalism. The conjoint of works presented in Villa Savoye resulted during a
Botin Foundation grant that made possible his researches in two cities and two housing blocks: Chandigarh and Brasilia, considering also other complexes like Le Corbusier's Unites
d'Habitation, the Copan building in Sao Paolo (built 1957-1966) and the 'Complexo Kubitschek' in Belo Horizonte (1942-1944, Oscar Niemeyer).
'There were a lot of elements that entered after, like the architecture of Lina Bo Bardi or the Auroville city India (1968, Roger Anger) and Golconde edifice in Pondicherry, Southern India
(1942, architects Antonin Raymond and George Nakashima), whose construction was supervised by Portuguese engineer Udar Pinto. Auroville, Chandigarh and Brasil were all utopic cities built
from a zero point. Auroville was the mystic utopia city, as opposed to the cultural agenda of independence, progress and modernity of the other two.' For Rodrigo Oliveira architecture
meets minimalism in ephemeral structures that served to the construction process like functional scaffolds and stairs that permitted access to the construction but were after demolished,
or other architectural elements that were never built although projected. In the same line of preoccupation, at Villa Savoye he was interested in the architecture of the so characteristic
promenade ramps, in the modernist access paths and staircases, which express for him the consciousness of the body in relation to architecture: 'In Villa Savoye Corbusier initially planned
a sort of balcony with an access stairs into the garden, which was never realized. Thinking of this house in the terms of Corbusier as a machine for living and an autonomous structure
(which has even the garden inside on the rooftop) it becomes obvious that this stairs was not built. I explored unbuilt structures also in Chandigarh. My works subsume pluriformical
qualities (ramp, stairs, walls at the same time), and are built according to imaginary possibilities of being folded and changed. The folding is not thought as a device for the public, but
as an internal condition of the work. Nevertheless they can be rearranged in different ways in the architectural space and change meaning inserted in a museum, gallery or at the villa
Savoye, placed on a corridor, or inserted in the middle of some stairs. It was important for me to connect all these sources with post-conceptual art and a post-minimalistic approach.'
His works seem to reload this referred theatricality of minimalism in relation to sculpture and architecture, but in a voluntary way. Relating minimalism to architecture he affirms:
'Robert Morris talked about his works in terms of not being an object and not being a monument. I kept this idea paraphrasing it: my work is not a building and it is not a sculpture.'
Rodrigo Oliveira's ramps that are at the same time stairs and can be walked upon, the sculptural model of a water collecting system designed by Le Corbusier in Chandigarh (found by him in
archival images and plans), give a sensual perception of the original architectural elements as a row of subverted mutual projections.
The double exhibition in its entirety induces what Jonathan Hill calls an aural environment. The aural is often less conscious than the visual, but is an equally tangible in terms of
If there is a striking feature in the works of Rodrigo Oliveira, it is without doubt that they don't go unnoticed. Upon entering his studio, a range of colors, shapes, images and formats,
composes a vast array of artworks each with its own particularities, but all somehow interconnected.
¿Con cuantas piedras se hace una balsa? or in English With how many stones does one build a raft? is the title chosen by the artist for his new group of works. Taken from a well known
Brazilian expression which uses the word 'sticks' instead of 'stones' and is used as a demonstration of challenge and courage: “I will show you with how many sticks you can make a raft” -
a simple promise to respond to a challenge - the new works that Oliveira has produced undoubtedly have challenge embedded within. Large sculptures made of plaster that resemble playful
beach waterbeds or rafts - if you may - each made in a dissimilar size and format which he then covers with a layer of cement, to finally apply on each one a different color stretcher,
giving the sculptures an appearance of being placed under some sort of tension.
When viewing this new body of work one can easily go back to Robert Morris' 1966 essay 'Notes on Sculpture' and see a connection to Oliveira's practice, which goes beyond Minimalist
sculptures to what Morris referred to as Process art or Anti-Form, when he began introducing indeterminacy and temporality into the artistic process, a work that is as dependent on the
circumstance and settings in which they were perceived, essentially overturning the notion of the artwork as independent in and of itself.
His practice is entrenched with a mixture of references - from Corbusier and modernist architecture in following models of embodiment and object; to the graciousness and liveliness of
Latin American culture, music and way of living; and a social and political influence that is layered beneath the strong colours used throughout his practice - one can see this in many of
his works, such as the ongoing series Square (Monopólio); in the various versions of sculptures in which match boxes are put together and placed on top of a structure resembling social
housing, like in Ca(u)sas; or furthermore in his Directório Espacial ( Spacial Directories), where the work as a canvas takes the form of house plans - and directly referring to the works
as being so - put together they resemble islands floating adrift.
Although one can perhaps identify Rodrigo's influences in his practice, it finds its inimitability in the way the viewer approaches and lives his work. In the enigmatic use of colours and
different forms which can allude to so much and at the same time to nothing at all. It is in this thin line created by the artist between viewer and artwork that the distinctive quality
and power of his work lays, weaving through from one experience to the next.
This brings us back to where we started and to the pun created by the artist between the work and its title - another common trait of his practice. Given the current political and economic
situation of Portugal, the reference in the title to Jose Saramago's famous novel 'Jangada de Pedra' (Stone Raft), comes as no surprise. The multi-layered story exposes an idea of the
Iberian Peninsula separating from the continent of Europe and beginning an erratic journey through the Atlantic Ocean. It is Saramago's magical realism that we see in Rodrigo's works, but
the book's sharp critiques of politics, science, culture, and the human condition cannot lay aside.
When experiencing Rodrigo's practice as a whole, the thrive for perfection is without doubt present, but it is in details such as its titles or in a color stretcher that one finds a
purposeful taint or awkwardness. Truth be said, the stones will submerge in the end - the raft will never be perfect. But the beauty of the work is exactly in the artist's eagerness to
dissociate from this rather pessimist fate that lies upon the lower western corner of Europe, his contemporary tropicality bridges us out of the damp and into something like Emir
Kustirica's masterpiece Underground and its brilliant final scene - a revelation that blends tragedy with hopefulness in an everlasting and over joyful whirl of emotions.
According to Saramago, it is through relationships with our fellow voyagers that we make the journey worth the time. Stone Raft is not without a deeper meaning. But whether you read it as
a political message or as a fable, it will hardly disappoint, just as in Rodrigo Oliveira's new work.
Watching us from overseas, Rodrigo Oliveira retrieves points of architectural genius from the history of Brazil, blending them with the necessary gambiarras (improvised solutions) that
make up for deficient public policies.
In the 1940s Brazil was building. The interest of the Getúltio Vargas dictatorship in exporting an image of modernity went down in the history of art in the 1943 exhibition Brazil Builds
at the MOMA in New York. The catalogue for that historic exhibition mentions another type of interest, an “acute desire to know more about Brazilian architecture, especially the solutions
to the problem of fighting the heat and the effects of light on large glass surfaces on the outside of buildings”. Rodrigo Oliveira retrieves this interest in Brazilian architecture,
however without fighting the heat, and even less so the light. On the contrary, in his series Ca(u)sas, he constructs building maquettes out of matchboxes covered in loud colours, so full
of life that they look ablaze, tied together with colourful straps. These works are often related to the architectural designs of buildings erected through Brazilian governmental housing
programs with the cheapest and most precarious of materials, stacks of flats for low income families, dampening the imminence of a social explosion. Indeed, the artist incinerated one of
the matchbox maquettes in his 2005 performance Rescaldo. In Oliveira's work, the danger is subtly suggested, latently underlying the joy of the saturated colours. There are no intelligible
emergency exits on the floor plans of the Complex Buildings, mazelike architectural drawings that look more like a warning: in the event of an emergency, you're on your own!
Watching us from overseas, Rodrigo Oliveira retrieves points of architectural genius from the history of Brazil, blending them with the necessary gambiarras (improvised solutions) that
make up for deficient public policies.
Thus, his brise-soleils are ingeniously made from deck chairs. The piece Ninguém podia dormir na rede porque na casa não tinha parede (Nobody could sleep in the hammock because the house
had no walls) hums the intangibility of the modernist utopia while market bags sway on a clothes line. Alongside it, a technical drawing attempts to represent in perfect perspective the
prosaic use of the clothes line.
It must be underlined that this Portuguese artist does not bring an explicit criticism or joke about the contradictions of Brazilian society. He seems to only want to translate them into a
standard language spoken in art theory:
constructivism, the project of modernity, and its upshots of a more aestheticizing, rather than socially transformative, nature. Rodrigo Oliveira's production, looking at Brazil from
Portugal or from closer quarters during his stays in the former colony, reveals a colourful society, but whose precarious, improvised and false structure is as unsustainable as the attempt
to read a theoretical text composed of letters cut out from magazines. Works like Do trabalho ao texto (From the Work to the Text) transform theory into a kidnapper's note, an anonymous
report or blackmailer's letter, those that give instructions to be followed to the letter, and that in general degenerate into tragedy.
In Uma Pedra no Sapato (A Stone in the Shoe), Rodrigo Oliveira makes replica Havaiana flip flops with “classicist” intentions; in a class confrontation between the Greek sculpture marble
on the sole of the sandal, and the strips of colourful rubber, which “don't come lose or smell” (just break from time to time).
The same colourful straps that tie the matchboxes of Ca(u)sas appear in ¿Con Cuántas Piedras se Hace una Balsa?, plaster and cement sculptures shaped to imitate inflatable Lilos used for
sunbathing in swimming pools. However, the Lilos here are twisted, crushed, compressed, strangled by the colourful band. And, let's not fool ourselves, they were already fated to sink, as
they are made of concrete. These mattresses distort a lucid object to suggest a doubled up body in an unnatural position of suffering. The edge of the folded-in Lilo is like a pair of
broken legs; the Lilo twisted longitudinally looks like a tied-up body. Here Rodrigo Oliveira is more explicit. The joy of the colours of the elastic bands fails to hide the load of a
torturous history that, mixed with the concrete, has been building us.
Rodrigo Oliveira's sculpture/installation, entitled “Desintegração Derrisória” [Derisory Disintegration], is a work that can be understood as an exploration of the conditions of
possibility for the representation of becoming, that is to say, of that change all of us can undergo, in our condition of subjective subjects, but also that change and transience that
affect us, even though they seem distant from us. Let is start with the rapport “Transladação” [Transfer], the title of the architectural construction, has to the installation as a whole:
it conveys a certain ambiguity, if not irony. On the one hand, we have the movement of a prone body that is being transferred, and the “disintegration” that confronts us when we look
around the space, which becomes denser and more cathartic as we step under the lights of a construction site. The body's presence in this space is affected by the markings of various
residual levels, which stratify a vertical map of events and caesura-like micro-events, which we can associate with the variations on the water level, with various stages in some
construction that has since disappeared, no longer even a ruin, only a metrics that preserves a memory with no evident or immediately recognisable references. But, on the other hand, the
derision Rodrigo Oliveira inscribes in the title is not a mocking action, but a deception that forces us to try to respond to the work that envelops us, because this installation contains
questions to which there are no clear, concise, immediate answers. For instance, what walls are these? Are they barriers? Of their pre- existence there are marks, signs, fossil imprints,
fluid traces that pile up and overlap cumulatively. What do they tell us, these traces, like signs that are at once close to and distant from us? And there is also an enlarged template,
entitled “Plantilla (desintegración derrisória)”, which reintroduces the installation's title and is made up of regions from the Iberian Peninsula, like abstract drawings that in their
original scale might have been drawn separately, as a set or overlapping one another, thus reconfiguring the peninsula. It is possible, then, that there is a place for derision here, in
the form of a political consciousness that reflects on unity and its parts, on the construction of a totality and its fragmentation, which emerges in present-day societies and grows as the
accumulation of marks, traces of layers, traces of identifying features or utopian desires. However, a sound associated with the humble, near-extinct trade of the knife grinder (who also
sharpened scissors and repaired umbrellas) fills our ears with a tune that carries an alert. This element of the installation, entitled “Dicen que va a llover”, creates a link with another
time in urban life, which was lived under the aegis of relational presence, while waiting for a future, which became the present, marked by the continuous, real-time mediation of self-
supporting images and sounds. But this artisanal sound comes our of a loudspeaker painted in a colour that clearly leaps out of the chromatic and archetypal context of the architectural
structure, erected by the artist as a fragmented matrix.
This installation is like some skeletal remain found by chance, one of several we come across while walking through cities, like some remembrance of a certain magical realism that, within
the context of this work, invites us, for instance, to revisit José Saramago's The Stone Raft. Can it be found in the template that shows us the singular and separate, but ordered, shapes
of the Iberian regions? Can this decaying architecture remake the walls that separate, but which, through the militant voice of a loudspeaker, shout at us encouragement to make us overcome
Let us listen to the tune's notes, for they say it is about to rain, and let us look at the walls for the near-absurd metrics of a temporality that takes us back to the reality of what is
ephemeral, without losing sight of the utopias and memory of a relational time that inscribes itself on the most austere architecture and on the incisions in the walls.
His attempt to make sense of order means a starting point for the constant repetition of the architectural motif as an interesting feature of his work.
Trying to review or do a fair analysis of the work of an artist who has been exhibiting in the art circuit for just ten years is always complicated. And our attempt becomes even more
difficult if we consider the many times that we, interested in the artistic fact, approach the work of people who perhaps have been creating for twenty, thirty or forty years. Comparisons
are quickly made and we cannot help thinking that we might be analysing an early stage of research; that we might be before the work of somebody who has not showed us yet the true trend of
his concerns, the true elements which will define his work and, in short, will determine if this person deserves our interest as spectators, as recipients of the message which his work
tries to communicate. Analysing ten years of work might not be worth it (yet) but this is definitely not the case.
Rodrigo Oliveira took part for the first time in a group exhibition in 2001, at the Welcome Center in Lisbon. The title of his piece could not have been more explicit: Cubo Branco (White
Cube). In that intervention, Rodrigo Oliveira displayed, inside the institution, the reproduction of an apparently neutral exhibition space. He placed on the walls a vinyl which reproduced
the statements of the politicians in charge of the Department of Tourism of the city, who announced that one of the purposes of the new building was to create a new art gallery in it,
which would be “spacious enough to decently host national and international exhibitions.” If we take a look at the pictures of the installation, we see the ulterior motive of the artist.
His work is displayed within a space with a low vaulted ceiling, where wall sections are marked in their structural elements by using the method of colour differentiation. Besides, we can
also notice that the lightning elements are definitely very difficult to handle and totally inappropriate. As Adam Carr has already pointed out, on the one hand, Rodrigo Oliveira clearly
acts in collusion with the postulates of the Institutional Critique of the seventies, since he gives a warning, inside the art institution itself, about its propagandist pretentions and
its mechanisms of control and mediocrity. Furthermore, it can be clearly noticed one of the propositions which will condition the work of Oliveira from then on - his interest in the
specificity of the space and the supposed contempt for the ideal conditions of the exhibition spaces. This was the case of many other subsequent works, such as Cubo Branco [Acervo] in
2002, at the old Cinema Roma where the Forum Lisboa had been held, an installation which consisted of a cube made with different waste materials found among the remainders of the
exhibition, among which one stands out - a television where a white cube was redundantly screened, the ideal image of the exhibiting container.
The specialised cell which Brian O ́Doherty described in his canonical Inside the White Cube. The Ideology of the Gallery Space was in question again. If we think about these first
interventions of the artist, and perhaps other later interventions, such as Em Acervo [Acesso Restrito] (2003), in which the spectators, who are inside the space of the gallery, see
themselves immersed in an empty and changed place where, in addition, an attempt is made to cause a false stress situation - a pretended fire at the warehouse, which attacks the
vulnerability of the artist to the market plans, we could think that the work of Rodrigo Oliveira should be included within the so-called Institutional Critique but it would not be
contributing new objections to a categorisation of artistic practices mainly developed in the seventies and characterised from the outside by the explicit self-referentiality of its
However, some elements make us elucidate that Rodrigo Oliveira's work will not be just that, a mere aseptic reproduction of the practices of the seventies, but it will go far beyond this.
The current theoretical approaches to the so-called Institutional Critique usually distinguish three differentiated stages within the same movement. The first of them, which gave raise to
this category and included the work of artists such as Hans Haacke, was - according to Brian Holmes in his article “Extradisciplinary Investigations. Towards a New Critique of
Institutions” - determined by the idea that, although the space of the art institution is considered a space which is potentially interesting as culture generator, it could turn into a
trap that has been instituted as a form of enclosure. According to Holmes himself, in the eighties and early nineties, another kind of Institutional Critique appeared, with representatives
who were points of reference for Rodrigo Oliveira, such as Andrea Fraser.
This second linewould be defined by the inclusion of a certain subjectivity in their practices, which were marked by the influence of movements such as feminism or by the prevalence of the
post-colonial studies. This line would mean the beginning of reflections on the artistic practices and on the approach of the acting subjects to these practices. That is, this trend would
go from a self-referentiality focused on the container to a self-referentiality focused on the content and form of the practices. Finally, according to Holmes, we could talk about a more
contemporary third line of action of the Institutional Critique, which would be characterised by “theorising the assemblages that link actors and resources from the art circuit to projects
and experiments that don't exhaust themselves inside it, but rather, extend elsewhere,” hence the idea of the “extradisciplinary investigations.” This concept is created in contrast to the
boom of the so-called multi, which were so applauded in the nineties (multidisciplinary, multicultural, multiracial, etc.) The extradisciplinarity has to do with the notion of
transversality. Two facts which undoubtedly foster the appearance of these notions are, on the one hand, the importance of the visual studies as theoretical disciplines, and, on the other,
the existing openness and greater connection among those which, as O' Dolerte did, we can call communication disciplines.
Despite some of his pieces somehow still referred to an Institutional Critique which we could label as “classic,” like Intervenção Localizada no.1 (Aluguer) (2006), in which the Barcelona
Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe was intervened in with a vinyl where the building rental conditions for recreational and business purposes were specified (even though in this case the space
chosen by the artist was clearly linked to the art world, there was not an explicit reference to an exhibition space); other works by this artist are closer to the last line of action
which Holmes refers to, which would mean the adoption of ways of intervention for the specificity of a local space. For example, this would be the case of works like spatial interventions
such as Sobre o Leite Derramado (2008) which was clearly referring to the specific case of the exploitation of Cadbury workers; Eurobuzz (2007), an ephemeral art project for Brussels; or
the collaborative project Lugares Remotos (2007), in which the inhabitants of the place took part in the intervention. In these interventions the connection with the environment goes
beyond the idea of the site specific in order to establish another kind of bond with the space, a relationship which is more related to the analysis of the social reality and the critique
of the power “institutions” or the institutions of the dominant capital.
A matter of codes.The relationship with the materials.
Rodrigo Oliveira's work could be considered, without any doubt, conceptual art. Communicating the idea, the search for the concept, is, apparently, his top priority. However, it is very
significant that it is not the concept what makes the artist look for the right material to represent it but the materials themselves, which in many cases determine the idea to be
represented, the underlying image behind the plastic creation. In fact, what catches your eye about Rodrigo Oliveira's work is its great plasticity. Conceptuality has become incredibly
plastic in his work; the referent gains a physical volume which is unusual in this kind of manifestations.
Besides, in addition to that plasticity, there is a constant and preeminent presence of colour as an element of composition and creation of meanings, even when the pieces refer to history
of art itself. In this sense, there are constant references to Mondrian's neoplasticism, to the Russian constructivism, to Donald Judd or Sol LeWitt's minimalism, to Kosuth's
postminimalism or conceptual art, a sort of reinterpretation of the objet trouvé, but instead of the found object we could talk about a sort of collected object. The collection and
classification of materials play a very important role in his work. The collection of a series of preexisting elements or objects which appear in the spaces related to life, to his city,
to Brazil, in short, in lived spaces, or rather, in warehouses, ironmonger's or shops in the lived spaces. The connections between those elements and the final meanings of the works in
which they are fixed are made a posteriori. The objects are the first to appear. Their accumulation seems to make the connections possible. Things are related to their own surrounding
environment: possible things in Portugal, possible things in Brazil, possible things in Brussels... And this working process can be seen in works such as Untitled Sentence [Another place
than this one] (2004-2007), in which the base of the creation is a circular composition of colours made with bottle tops collected by the artist, or his last work Capanema (2010), in which
the main elements of creation are a group of deck chairs brought from a trip to Brazil. In this particular case, the piece was created as a ceiling installation. The deck chairs, all of
them multi-colour striped and made of raffia, are displayed in line, attached to a series of metallic mechanisms used to move the awnings which we use to protect us from the sun. They are
displayed in such a way that they remind the brise-soleil which Le Corbusier used in architecture to enable the entrance of light and air in his buildings. So, when we are under the
structure, we feel as in a sort of upside-down world where the elements which we usually use to sit in the sun are in this case those which, in theory (limits in architecture are almost
always clear), will protect us from it. Besides, we can move the structure of the ceiling to modify its position and visibility.
Architecture and urban space. The local resources.
The relationship with history, with cultural and life references, and with the history of art and architecture is another element repeated in Rodrigo de Oliveira's work. His interest in
deciphering the codes of the European Modern Movement in architecture is conditioned by his Swiss origin and the obvious distance which separates this kind of construction from the
architecture which predominates the Portuguese landscape. His attempt to make sense of order means a starting point for the constant repetition of the architectural motif as an interesting
feature of his work.
Architecture and urbanism are present in different ways: in an almost reproduction, as it can be seen in his Esculturas Inflamáveis (2004-2005), in which his interest in Le Corbusier's
work was obvious; in his Colapso, Escultura Inflamável (2005), a model to be burnt or destroyed, or in his Cada Casa é um Caso (Arquivo Geral) (2010). This piece, which consists of a pile
of matchboxes, about 500, was at first created to work as a register of new towns which have been built and have not been forgotten as mere projects. Once again, it reminds Le Corbusier
and his Unité d'Habitation. But besides reproducing, almost like a model (something usual for the artist), there is another kind of architectural references usually linked to the
understanding of spatiality, to the necessity of understanding the plans and structures which are common in our habitation spaces. For example, in his installation Capanema (2010), the
presence of the plan is a part of the work, since, in order to make the piece which completes the intervention, he takes as a starting point the designs drawn up by the landscape architect
Burle Marx for the terrace gardens of the Palácio Gustavo Capanema. The construction of architectural spaces is sometimes also related to the definition and presence of what could be
called subjective space. The interiorityexteriority plays, what is present outside one and what is present inside the subject itself defined as such, give raise to works such as Blindex
(1535-143 AD), (2010). This installation of mirror doors helps us to reflect on the construction of subjectivity in relation to the image, as well as on the construction of the space which
is external to the subject in relation to the mechanisms of perception.
The inside-outside play, with doors which open and close, invites us to visit different installation spaces divided into modules which were created to be displayed in a bigger space.
Although some scenes of the film The Secret Beyond the Door (1948) by Fritz Lang were used to build this piece, we could also think of other cinematographic spaces such as Orson Welles'
The Lady from Shangai, in which the play of mirrors in the funfair sequence provides the audience and the characters of the film with an awareness of themselves conditioned by the presence
of the image used for the creation of their own personality. In short, like Hans Haacke said: “it's important to recognise that the codes employed by artists are often not as clear and
unambiguous as those in other fields of communication. Controlled ambiguity may, in fact, be one of the characteristics of much Western art since the Renaissance.”
Rodrigo Oliveira appropriated the verses of "The House" by Vinicius de Morais allegorically for titling this new project comprising a series of works made specifically for this exhibition
and back to surprise us by using an infinite creativity and diversity of materials that serves to set up his ideas.
The exhibition starts with "Blindex (1535-143 AD)" (2010) an interactive installation consisting of a series of shafts with mirrored revolving doors in which, each door is made up of other
Following previous conceptual studies that have followed his artistic reflection, the artist shows us once again the visual result of the junction of architecture and sculpture and the
consequent relation with space and perception, making the term presupposition Blindex a game of semantics intrinsically related to the understanding of the work. At blindness imposed by
the reflections corresponds to the summons, to the foreground, the viewer's body and the place that occupies in the living space of the structure.
The subtitle of the piece, in turn, refers to the starting point of reference of the artist: 1535-143 AD is the inventory number of a photograph1 from the movie The Secret
Beyond the Door (1948) directed by Fritz Lang in which the character played by Joan Bennett appears leaning against a door of enormous dimensions and warped perspective creating a
psychological tension and staggering the visual image.
Making use of interactivity and duplication created by transportable modules which form a hermetic productions that issue to the contemporary challenge of the viewer to become part of an
action and sensory testing. In "Blindex (1535-143 AD)" the visitor begins a journey without a destination in the confrontation with self image in the mirrors and the presence of
interstitial spaces of the general circulatory architecture of the door, reminding us of the fundamental element of the films narrative "the mystery of the door”, that inspired the piece.
The doors do not open or close, rotate and create intermediate spaces operated by the viewer, that runs through the space, haunted by his own image multiplied and fragmented in the optical
reflecting surfaces in an unexpected game.
The visitor comes and goes, moves and communicates with the space, but what's behind the doors? Where leads this way? Deja vu? Do not know but the experience will stand in his memory...
Also in the main room of the gallery is another interactive installation - "Capanema" (2010) - attests to the artist's skillful ability to appropriate an unlimited amount of materials and
objects that decontextualizes its primary function and implements it in the art object. Thus we have the concept of the readymade with the improvisation, behind this artistic strategy and
yet, another example of a combination of sculpture, installation, architecture and mechanical properties in order to establish a dialogue between the viewer and the space.
This installation consists of two parts that complement each other. Suspended in the ceiling are several metal frames with tilting systems and lined with fabric from beach chairs, creating
a multicolored canopy formed by several flaps that move and reconfigure through a crank, enabling the viewer to an interactive role in the piece configuration. The investigation of the
modernist legacy is present in the patterns that we report for the modernist geometric patterns and the work starting point is contextualized by the framework installed on the wall nearby.
That represents the second element of the installation.
In this, is a clear analogy with the notice boards that meet in the lobbies of private and public buildings, but here the background of felt shows a reinterpretation of a design of the
landscape architect Burle Marx, that held a the tropical garden at the Capanema palace terrace. This building, formerly headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Culture in Rio de
Janeiro, was designed by a team of architects2 pioneered the introduction of modern architecture in Brazil following some architectural principles suggested by Le Corbusier;
including visors and shade adjustable asbestos (on the north façade)_ the brise-soleil, an architectural device assigned to the Swiss architect.
Rodrigo Oliveira takes advantage of the obvious symbolism and cultural associations in some objects and materials and operates by changing its physical properties, thus subverting meaning
and admitting, finally, that the everyday becomes a sculpture!
The works exhibited in the second room of the gallery are a sequence of these reflections and relates directly to "Blindex (1535-143 AD)" and "Capanema" in an exercise of continuity and
Cada Casa é um Caso (arquivo geral) "Each house is a case (general file)" (2010) is an investigation of the applicant's architectural part schemes and systems, found in residential modes
of organization of modern societies in accordance with a strictly modern ideas: modularized, straight and rational.
The Unité d'habitacion, is an allusion to social housing or a condominium, is again imported. Each box corresponds to a balcony and turn into to a home. This file-drawer denotes that we do
not know what hides back to the classic film by Fritz Lang and the history of the architect who collects rooms where crimes occurred!
Finally, even in the second room, a set of asymmetrical facades show trials of architectural structures linking these issues of architecture with the history of painting. Conceptually come
from a program previously developed based in the references_ structures and architectural designs, particularly Corbusier. In these works, reportedly to Installation "Capanema, the facades
are the architectural element to prevail because both refer to the brise soleil as monumental structures built on concrete, that such sample appear in Corbusier Chandigarh´s (India) where
they are more sculptural than architectural!
The use of reflective and transparent surfaces while introducing variation and dynamics, destabilize the reality and reconstructs the surrounding space, changing thus the visual field:
open up new plans, expand and compress the space, multiply and subvert the perception and still have the important function of providing an identification between the work and the
In "Nobody could sleep in the hammock because the house had no wall block” is a turn to take architecture, form, structure and experience of space, the common denominators of the work of
Rodrigo Oliveira achieved in" sculptures and installations in its rigor, formal elegance and apparent straightforwardness, always hide a complex overlap of meanings, and are almost always
accompanied by large doses of humor, often corrosive and never free of criticism3.
1 Image of book cover research Sexuality & Space researcher and professor of architecture Beatriz Colomina, ed. Princeton Papers on Architecture press, New York,
2 Lúcio Costa, Oscar Niemeyer, Jorge Machado Moreira, Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Carlos Leão e Ernani Vasconcelos
3 Ricardo Nicolau in “Atenção”,
“Utopia na Casa de Cada Um” [“Utopia in Everyone's House”], Rodrigo Oliveira's first exhibition in a Portuguese institution, is based on a nucleus of projects inscribed within one of the
main aspects of his output, the study of the Modernist legacy on the contemporary condition, particularly through the prism of architecture. For example, the series “Construções Complexas
(Geografia da Casa)” [Complex Constructions (Geography of the House)], begun in 2007 and of which a new work is being presented in this exhibition, consists of a set of emergency
blueprints similar to those placed in public or corporate buildings yet having been manipulated according to preparatory studies of dwellings by, among other architects, Le Corbusier and
Mies van der Rohe. Through this proposal the artist is thus alluding to the split between function and form, just as Modernism professed it. However, in examining this tension in the light
of recent thinking, which already incorporates it in its intellectual framework, Oliveira is also stating the criticism of this dichotomy developed since the post-World War II.
This analysis is seen in many works by Rodrigo Oliveira. Armação (Para Trepar) [Scaffolding (For Climbing)] (2007), for example, is a structure indexed to the norms of civil construction
underlying the D-I-Y principle, minimalism, the neo-plasticism style of Mondrian and the Schroder House, designed by Rietveld in the 1930s. The combination of historical references like
these defines many current artistic practices, based on the re-contextualising of the major narratives of the 20th century. Oliveira is set within this line of thought and both
appropriates images and concepts with a symbolic resonance and casts clues to the spectator about the meaning of art and daily life. The work commissioned by the CAV for this exhibition
demonstrates it. Entitled Monumento a Tatlin Numa Cozinha Suburbana [Monument to Tatlin in a Suburban Kitchen] (2009), it is a photograph that, under the background of a trivial setting
and action, refers to such iconographic projects as Tatlin's “Monument to the Third international” and its famous recreation by Dan Flavin.
Several different works that mix erudite and vernacular architectural traditions complement the exhibition. Rescaldo [Rescue] (2005) documents the burning of a model made out of incendiary
materials. This video encapsulates the group of “flammable sculptures” that the artist made between 2004 and 2005, the first of which, Perigo Iminente [Imminent Danger] (2004), reproduced
a building from the famous Le Corbusier's Marseille Unité d'Habitation. Embargado (Clandestinos #1, #2, #3, #4) [Embargo (clandestines #1 #2 #3 #4)), (2005) represents a destroyed urban
complex, manifesting the imagery of the ruin that marks out the post- modern age. The drawings and sculptures from the series “Avançados” [Annexes], ongoing since 2005, are inspired by the
informal, makeshift additions of private residences that characterises European urban outskirts. Oliveira hence points out that the functional or aesthetic alteration of pre- defined
housing schemes corresponds to logics of survival in the global economy. In these works, he thus deals with the ideological systems that embody the values, attitudes and behaviours of
today, calling attention to the primacy of the social over the individual in late-capitalism.
In “Da Obra ao Texto” [From Work to Text], his first solo show in Oporto, the young Lisbon-based artist Rodrigo Oliveira brings together a set of works that, while distancing itself from
his signature production, nevertheless reflects the premises he has followed in his recent yet talented career. The investigation of the modernist legacy in contemporary life, especially
as seen in architecture, characterizes his art.
Thus, his works, made in multiple media (albeit with an emphasis on sculpture), analyze the visions of the world of a given context by deconstructing the prevailing cultural schemes. This
exhibition presents several works typifying this intellectual framework, such as 20792 (Unité d'Habitation) [20792, (Housing Unit)], 2009, and Construções Complexas (Geografia da Casa)
[Complex Constructions (Geography of the Home)], 2009. The former merges a Le Corbusier drawing of the color coding used in the facades of the Unité d'Habitation buildings in Marseilles
with another drawing, burned by the sun, that represents the volume of those edifices. The latter consists of a series of emergency floor plans, like those found in corporative corporate
buildings, but manipulated in accord with preliminary studies of dwellings of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe, among other architects. Oliveira thus examines the division between
function and form, as professed by modernism, as well as contemporary criticism of this dichotomy.
The reference to the thought of Roland Barthes suggested by the title of the exhibition points, however, to a lesser known component of his output, the exploration of the power of
language. In And, So What?, 2008, a collage of fake diamonds on paper from which stands out the character “&” evokes the association between this symbol and that material. In From Work to
Text #2, 2008, Oliveira rewrites passages from Barthes's famous essay, resorting to the popular technique of ransom notes: words made up of letters cut out of magazine pages. The
post-structuralist claim that the text resists a unique interpretation or, more generally, that the individual creates the signified starting from a signifier, is also reflected in other
works on view. For example, The Gap Between Civilization and Culture, 2006, consists of a collection of dictionary pages from the Penguin Reference Library in which the artist outlined all
the words between the terms “civilization” and “culture.” A similar strategy is noticeable in A distância entre Eu e o Outro (Lisboa) (Porto) [The Distance between Me and the Other
(Lisbon) (Oporto)], 2008, made up of excerpts of telephone listings from the two cities, in bound volumes, which include only those subscribers with surnames between “eu” [Me] and “outro”
The separation, in the gallery space, between the two group of works brought together in this exhibition implies a difference between them that nevertheless diminishes as one perceives
that what is of essential interest to Oliveira is the deconstruction of ideological systems. His derisive attitude is understood, for instance, in Today & Now, 2009, a metal box from which
spill out and fall onto the floor the diamond-shaped confetti resulting from shredding popular books, published by Phaidon and Taschen, that trace the history of recent art. The conceptual
and visual relationship among works like those of the series “Façade” (from 2008 and 2009) and Jornal de Serviço (Leitura em Diagonal das Páginas Amarelas) [Service Journal (Diagonal
Reading of the Yellow Pages)], 2009, reveals it. The former are colored geometrical structures that owe to the “International style,” a current of architectural functionalism; the latter
is composed of Yellow Pages cut page by page and glued onto paper in order to configure a bookcase organized in alphabetical order. This exhibition thus brilliantly illuminates the
artist's practice, demonstrating how the artist approaches the signs that manifest values, attitudes, and collective behavior, and so calls attention to their primacy over the individual
in our late-capitalist societies.
Rodrigo Oliveira (Sintra, 1978) is an artist with a relatively recent career and an irreducibly singular body of work. An important part of his production deals with the demystification,
or the reduction to the absurd, of particular commonplaces of art and its models of presentation. To this effect, Oliveira has rigorously analyzed the artistic apparatus, developing
projects where he examines the role of the artist and institution, but also the circumstances and expectations that envelop exhibitions and works of art. It is not by chance that in
several of his pieces, we are confronted with devices such as walls, pedestals, museum benches, which he employs to ensure the deft administration of our hopes or our supposed right to
viewing and accessing art - processes that intentionally evoke the historical precedent of “institutional critique” and the examination of spaces and processes of communication, as well as
the conditions of the spectator. In order to reveal the ideological and cultural underpinnings that gave rise to contemporary art institutions, Rodrigo Oliveira replicates strategies and
methodologies that typify modern culture. This has naturally lead him to the critical examination of architecture and the failure of political, social and aesthetic utopias, which
culminated in the absurdity of our everyday lives, namely the waning of the public sphere and social interaction.
Rodrigo Oliveira is an artist who is obsessed with the ways in which architectural space influences and controls our movements - a control which does not contradict, but to the contrary,
asserts various stages of false comfort and artificial assurance (several of his projects take architectural typologies related to the idea of the town house as their point of departure).
Oliveira is interested in space in its various manifestations: social, political, physical, psychological, historical. His sculptures and installations, in their rigor, formal elegance and
apparent frontality, always hide a complex layering of meaning, and are always served with a substantial dose of humor, which is frequently corrosive and openly critical. The paradoxes and
mysteries of modern life - namely the ways we choose to inhabit, our relationship with spaces, with objects - are critically reflected and a constant in his work, which he often connects
to the revision of the grand tradition, the almost messianic illustrated project of modernist architecture. Very often, he refers directly to the tutelary figures of Le Corbusier and Mies
van der Rohe to confront us with the contradictory results and multiple fissures of the project of modernity, in both architectural, but also artistic and philosophical terms. The
interesting thing in his work is how this preoccupation with architecture links up with certain forms and protocols that we immediately associate with minimalism, which has been revisited
by contemporary art precisely with the intention of revealing how every ideal, any idea of purity or neutrality, is defeated as soon as it is confronted with a social, historic or
narrative order; that is to say, by referencing modernist architecture, Oliveira submits the objectives of minimalism to the conditions of reality, complicating its intended transparency.
The material he uses, very often without intervention, also contributes towards this complication: Oliveira is interested in ambiguous material which can be symbol and raw at once, which
can belong to the realm of the everyday but can also drenched with multiple meanings. When he uses, say, a wide range of fences and barriers - as in Parcour (Acesso Restrito), 2001-2003 -
he is not only conditioning the spectator's movement through space: if some objects are tennis nets, pool fences and hurdles, Rodrigo Oliveira is asking us to think about the relationship
that exists between these indications of right of way and the sporting activities we associate to elites living in town houses. Another example is his use of potentially dangerous
material, for instance his “inflammable sculptures”, model modernist housing units, made with thousands of matches, which he has been producing since 2004. Subject to imminent disaster,
after having partially burnt down, these sculptures are frequently presented in a ruinous state. Here, as with the series of embargoed construction sites, made of torn, glued pressed
cardboard, which Oliveira has also come to present, he counterposes collapse, dissolution, entropy and contingency with ideas of purity and neutrality. Aware of how people are drawn to
danger, he has incorporated this element into many of his works, which enables spectators to perceive the role that space occupies for the first time - psychologically, when we come into
contact with danger, we become more alert, we think and feel much more intensely.
For his MA Show at Chelsea, Rodrigo Oliveira presents a large sculptural model, an installation of found objects, and a video. Oliveira's interests in process and transformation are
explored through these works. The model, entitled 'Iberian Marmitex (accidented Sculpture #1)' (2006), is based on Frank Gehry's drawings of the Guggenheim Bilbao, a building which is as
famous for its curvaceous metal-clad exterior as it is for its collection of 20th century art. The model is made from aluminium takeaway cartons gathered from the artist's travels, wood,
glue and foil. Oliveira's re-creation of one of the world's most iconic gallery buildings from disposable cartons and flimsy everyday materials pays homage to Gehry's creation, but is also
The transformation of everyday objects continues with Oliveira's installation of four tables at the end of the room. Collectively titled '(Sobre)mesa' (2006), the tables, from a series of
twelve, are fixed to the wall, and have each been treated differently. The first comprises only the metal frame, sprinkled with small lumps of blue- tac. It immediately evokes childhood
memories of the school desk, with the chewing gum secreted into the crevices below; the second has holes cut into its board surface, which represent the dishes and coffee cups that were
once stood there and stained the surface. The third table is fixed to the wall, with a layer of plaster removed, exposing the material of the wall; and the fourth is a blue picnic table
which sits on the floor in its case, its blue plastic top removed and replaced by blue Plexiglas. Olivera draws on our familiarity with the function of these unremarkable objects, playing
with various propositions.
The third element of Oliveira's MA show is a video entitled 'Rescaldo (Rescue)' (2005). The video, presented on a monitor, shows an architectural model of a tower block that the artist has
made out of matches and matchboxes being lit, and then extinguished by firemen before it collapses. The model itself is a structure of over two meters high, comprising entirely of
flammable materials. It is one of series of 'Inflammable Sculptures' that Oliveira has made and often set fire to, representing modernist buildings. These sculptures, composed of millions
of matches that could be fired at any moment, are highly dangerous objects, and as scaled-down models of existing buildings they also remind us of the perilous nature of living within
these stacked domestic spaces.
In 2002, he concluded the Advanced Course/Final year at Maumaus, in Lisbon, and, one year later, graduated in Fine Arts, Sculpture from FBAUL. In the same year, he held an Erasmus
fellowship in Berlin, and began teaching Sculpture at Universidade de Évora and held his first, and so far the only one, individual exhibition, at Galeria Filomena Soares, entitled À
Primeira Vista. Through the Gallery, his work was represented in Arte Lisboa 2003 and 2004 and at ARCO 2005 and 2005, in Madrid.
From 2002 onwards he participated in ten collective exhibitions. In his own words, his work has been marked by “site and context-specific interventions, which start from a reflection on
certain spaces' architectonic functions and characteristics, to obtain an analysis of mechanisms of legitimisation, existence and propagation of the artistic system”. The intensification
of each place's reality, achieved through the commentary of one of its aspects, and its cross-referencing with those social conditions, which define the participation of each person in the
universes offered by art, are the elements in which the artist rests most of his works, allowing for the visibility of the neuralgic centers where individual initiative and collective
In 2001, at the Welcome Center in Lisbon, he installed Cubo Branco, a wood construction painted white and grey on the inside, opposing the evocation of the traditional contemporary white
gallery to the unfavourable museological conditions of the site. The following year, Cubo Branco (acervo) complexified the idea of the commentary on cultural devices by installing an
enormous wall along the corridor of Fórum Lisboa composed of all the objects he found stored in the basement of this former movie theatre. In a video projection, a completely clean and
empty room was the scenario of an experiment with the strident sounds created by the dragging, removal and stacking of boxes and materials.
The issue of backstage, the emphasis on viewpoint and procedures would be constant in his work. In Situ (2002), at Interpress, took as a starting point a selection of several objects
related to the act of seeing and with the “landscape character of the gaze” (artist's expression): tripod, garden lamp, countryside easel, museum bench, TV with video monitor color bars,
etc. Its spatial distribution was marked by great circles of different colours in different areas, quoting us an aesthetic concept of that urban area's public space. Scenography and
site-specific installation opposed their natures in this situation of reciprocal challenge.
Due to its public dimension and to the strength of its forms, the architectonic question is the object of almost omnipresent reflection in the work of R.O. In Parcours (Acesso Restrito),
the commentary is aimed at private condominiums, their enclosure and social signage, taking the shape of horse-jumping obstacles, tennis nets, floating pool divisions, referee's chair,
among other objects related to elite sports. The sense of intrusion burdened upon those who look at or attempt to enter this space is a condition for the significance of the work, and is
repeated in Sem-Título (Puro Sangue (2002)), by placing a horse-jumping obstacle in place of a private condominium's gate. In a parody of the same sport, he created with João Pedro Vale,
in 2004, a group of equestrian trophies made of scotch-tape printed with the cigarrette brand Português Suave, entitled P.S. Puro Sangue/Português Suave.
Works such as Quadro Negro (Acesso Restrito) and Quadro Branco no1 (Acesso Restrito), from 2002, Caixa (Acesso Restrito) #1#2, Land(scape) #1#2 and Casa Geminada (Acesso Restrito) from
2003 also deal with the same thematic area. Through these objects or boxes, almost all in black and white, the artist syntethised the issue of the minimal, exhibitive and documental
language of conceptual art and made a direct reference to the rules of private condominiums, their key- keepers, mailboxes, niches and refuges, passage ways and safety...
And again we notice a transition from the signage and organization of the spaces we inhabit towards that of the spaces which shelter artistic products. Pórtico, from 2003, held at the
bienal of Maia, consisted of the inscription of the word “MUSEU” at the entrance of a parking lot, and the same word, inverted on the opposite side of the pavilion. The conceptual fusion
of the two spaces - that which houses artworks and that which houses cars - also originated the installation on display at the Gulbenkian, in a great object exacerbation of this
The idea of museum-holdings, possibly one of the ideas most subject of conjugation on behalf of the public, is worked at the Galeria Filomena Soares, through the simple alteration of space
with moveable walls and by placing a tin door bearing the appearance and signage of a service door or of an emergency exit, from which smoke billowed out, overlaying the real and
metaphorical expressions of consumption, of preservation and loss risk, of the hidden and of the accessible, of emptiness and filling up, of memory and expectation. In Acervo (Acesso
Restrito#2), from 2003, it is again a door that points to the private and individual collector's impulse, the artist incrusting it on the floor in the manner of a hatch, covering it
partially with a carpet.
A gigantic Plinto reaffirmed the idea of physical obstacle, found in other works, in a collage of the sporting ideal, one hand, and to the polisemy of the word plinth (pedestal in the
museological context) on the other hand. Designed to open as a fan, each of its painted layers fully accessible, we feel it as “monument” and a useless invention, enough so that we can
move from the image of a “sports jump” to a “jump at another scale” (R.O.). And, finally, the sporting world serves as figurative pretence for NBA (Measurement), from 2003, a mix of
basketball table and Mondrian quotation, measurements inscribed on a wall quoting Mel Brochner and imbrication of code levels.
The intervention upon space and the commentary of museological lighting devices, or architectonic transparency, found its utmost grade of subversion in a project presented to the Museu da
Cidade, which aimed to transform the Pavilhão Branco (White Pavilion) into a Pavilhão Preto (Black Pavilion) and vice-versa, its windows and openings meeting with perspectivised paintings
on the walls.
Within the last year, the configuration of the threat of the building-like collapse of collections has been frequently decided by using fire in the parcial destruction of great models of
buildings, in a performative context: Perigo Iminente (Escultura Inflamável) and Colapso (Escultura Inflamável #2) was presented this year at the Projecto Terminal, in Oeiras, and at Point
Ephémère, in Paris.
The work now displayed integrated this pyrotechnic ambition, by including the painting of parallel bars, simulating those of a building's garage, in the same material used to make matches.
The intermittent opening of the garage gates and the rising ramp which follows it, visible once we reach the interior of this ambiguous garage/gallery, and the visible painted iron
elevating structure itself, all challenge the visitor in the most physical manner of discovering a space: they call, close, frustrate, and surrealize in it the expectation of some
preciousness that was kept away.