GERHARDT BRAUN GALLERY ART PALACE - Calle Sant Feliu 10, 07012 Palma de Mallorca
It was past late when I was suddenly reminded of Vera’s work. Mind-racing, thoughts blowing — ghosts inhabited around me in some sort of circular, spinning motion. I got up and wrote something on a piece of paper I cannot recall. And it was morning all over.
“Can’t Say No” is the first solo exhibition of Vera Midões (Lisboa, 1980) at Gerhart Braun Gallery. This exhibition presents an entirely fresh body of work by Midões, developed in the last seven months.
As with any other subject of enquiry, we delve upon ourselves. What we start is very often what we cannot finish, finding instead along the way paths we could not predict. Shapes, figures, memories, words and a myriad of other signals are scraped into canvasses much as in our minds, creating an organic, albeit strange and disparate motif, circumscribed in time. Perhaps this was what triggered Vera’s interest in Phrenology.
Developed in late 18th Century, this pseudo-science studied the conformation of skulls as an indicator of mental faculties, traits and character. It grew in popularity until it was completely discredited. Basically, through a completely empirical method, scientists would find bumps in the brain and proclaim a series of abilities, or disabilities. It was applied to education and criminal reform, predicting individuals which were less capable or absent of morality and other bizarre features. Long story short, phrenology became associated with the dark and problematic history of social reform in the 20th Century, however it is also genealogically linked to the development of psychology.
Vera’s only tangentially interested in this story. For Vera, just like in her work — and I dare suppose in her life — concepts and ideas are appropriated through certain aspects, rapidly modified and transformed into other meanings, ideas, shapes, words. A sort of dyslexia perhaps, or so I am told — personally, I feel it as radical subjectivity; a sort of exposé of the rhizomatic vulnerability of our thoughts, often more incoherent than not.
Looking at Vera’s images, often feels more like listening, either to ourselves, or to a free jazz sextet in full blast. Within it, Vera assumes multiple personalities, multiple drawing and painting references, multiple stories, some biographical and others borrowed, in a collage of anarchic references absorbed and transformed by her most intimate being.
It is not uncommon to hear her sigh, whisper, talk-out loud and laugh while in the studio. Her practice forms within the intimate conversation she is forming with herself through the surface of the canvas that accommodates her impulsive (re)marks.
A constant feedback loop, oscillating in periods of great intensity or slower reflexivity, that approximates, perhaps, almost a sort of game; Sometimes wrestling, others chess.
The metaphor of play is dear to Vera and has been very much present in her recent works. “The Puzzle and a Head to Assemble” presents the absurdity of phrenology in the form of a puzzle, and a Mikado made, much like the puzzle, of oversized pieces. The play at scale seems to be also translated in time, adult-sized games, becoming something of an elephant in the room, strange fragments of daily experiences.
Biographical metaphors structured around play surface in Vera’s paintings through wordplay. In fact, these fragmented images are composed of a near-language structure, which Vera develops through her own dictionary. Images become symbols, that become sentences, often filled with irony and sarcasm. It is perhaps not for us to fully decipher this emotional cryptology but to travel past it, becoming immersed in our own memories, played by these images.
This is ultimately the game played with the world; exposed on canvas and reflected back at us; an invitation at wondering in the maze and diving onto our own radical and subjective experience.
João Bragança Gil
para alguém - irreversível – não
poder apagar com a borracha
não que não apague
mas a memoria
ou se esquece
ou é insubstituível
tomara fôssemos feitos de algo
mais que essas sucessivas memórias
e as pinturas ganhassem a leveza
da falta de um tempo
quem dera que a temperatura
da tinta não enrijecesse os sentidos
ao contemplarmos ou entrarmos
na sua narrativa orgânica
mas a vontade do futuro é a da imagem em revolução:
queira ela acrescentar um retrato,
várias figuras numa paisagem,
ou uma simples emoção