Through the development of paintings, architecture, their fusion, and colours, Julião Sarmento evolves his unique practice. The artist, taking inspiration from Ludwig Wittengstein’s philosophical notes, expands the study of the perception of colours naming the exhibition “Remarks of colour”. Sarmento is considered one of the most important artists of his generation and he has been exhibiting since 1974. However Pilar Corriar in London had the pleasure to launch his new work in his first solo exhibition with the gallery. Pilar Corriar, located in Eastcastle Street near the popular Oxford Circus area, displays the exhibition from the 15th of February to the 19th of March with free admission.
In this exhibition Sarmento focuses on the origin of the colour itself and our sensory perception of it. He created four canvases of approximately 2 metres by 2 metres combining polyvinyl, acetate, pigments, acrylic gesso, ink, inkjet print, tape, collage on paper, photocopy, graphite and finally silkscreen print on unprinted cotton canvas.
The artist implements the canvases with multiple layers of the three primaries red, blue and yellow and with silkscreen photographic images. The collage adds contradicting meaning, emphasizing the empty white impasto surface and yet charging it with higher power. In addition the white space, which occupies the major part of the canvases, was studied to optically expand and contract at the same time. Sarmento establishes a net of connections between each work that goes beyond medium’s boundaries floating without a logic grid. However what links the pieces are the recurring motifs are hand gestures either in photographs or drawn, body parts and architectural structures.
Once the viewer enters the gallery space, he/she suddenly notices the constructed, artificial and controlled montage of elements, which have no coherent or linear narrative that the viewer could follow. Therefore the space embraces the spectator to flow through the canvases trying to formulate a subjective story out of the diverse mediums. What the artist wants to reach is a sense of confusion where the viewer is left in a limbo-like psychological state neither in connection nor attached to the works.
To focus more on the sense of disorientation Sarmento includes a new sculptural piece “White Exit”, made of painted steel, bronze, stainless steel, wood and glass. Here he represents a real size sculpture of a female figure in the last moment of exiting a room through a door, leaving a glass of milk on a tray on the floor behind her. The entire scenario is white, the glass, the door, the walls and the heel, which is the only visible part of the woman’s body.
The viewer is thrown into an indeterminate domestic interior, observing the protagonist of the action exiting the scene. The spectator is left with the curiosity to see her face, to know where she is going and what is behind the door. By allowing the subject of the work to be absent, Sarmento emphasizes the importance of the negative space. This concept refers to what is not part of the scene but surrounds the viewer. He emphasizes the significance of the space and elements outside the frame transforming them into active components.
The two parts of the exhibitions are highly related by their absence in the effective scene or canvas. The confusion given by the sculpture leaving its own scene and the emptiness of the paintings confer a dynamic significance to the environment. The space surrounding the viewer becomes an active component related to each piece, in which the frame is not locking the work but is extending it. The exhibition could be mainly addressed to an audience interested in illustrations, graphic design, collage, sculpture, visual art, photography and innovative painting as well as fascinating colours.
Pilar Corriar’s space is divided into three sections. The first is the entrance corridor, in front of the wide window that faces the street. Here the viewer sees one canvas as if the artist wanted to introduce his artwork gradually. The major four canvases are exposed in the main gallery on wide white walls. Each canvas has the space to be observed in its integrity allowing the white component outside the frame to be a continuation of the piece. Moreover this effect is implemented by the display of the paintings; in fact they have no physical frame or glass separating the viewer from the art, there is no creation of barriers. The final part is the alcove occupied by the sculpture, where the small space creates a sense of intrusion into someone’s house whilst watching the subjects leave. The room, in which the sculpture in positioned, is perfectly fitted to the piece of art, making impossible for the spectator to walk around it or to try and look behind the door, hence creating a more active surrounding.
The exhibition expresses the sense of space and confusion successfully directing the attention onto colors and materials. Sarmento designed the display in a way that every piece has the right importance and allows the viewer to notice each technique and medium he used. What I expected was to view more paintings instead of just four, but most probably that was the most appropriate choice because of the limited amount of space.