(On the other hand, to supply attention and study, rest, colloquy, reiterations or overnight stay, the MESA was reinvented – now a geographic place, since the petrified surrounding nature was turned, it, the absolute decor of possible routines.)
Álvaro Lapa, Raso como o chão, Lisbon, Editorial Estampa, 1977, p.15.
João Miguel Ramos elected the table as the starting point for a conceptual digression on memory, art history and modernity as a paradigm for questioning reality.
If in the classic still life, the table appears essentially as a structural element of the composition on which the true protagonists of the pictorial plane rest, the table in this exhibition acquires a singularly deviant thickness.
Here, the table is closer to the mental and existential device referred to by Lapa: a place of introspection or complicit conviviality, where the flow of decisive indeterminations that constitute the primordial fabric of life is played out.
Painting, no matter how many deaths have been enacted, still has this unique quality: it survives, and like few instruments in the sphere of representation, it dances (when achieved) superbly with death by anticipating its inscription in futures not yet imagined.
The table is a place of destruction and reconstruction; just like the incomparable Francis Bacon, who claimed that he wanted to distort things beyond appearance, but in the distortion bring them back to his memory, João Miguel Ramos’ paintings are exercises of active forgetting.
We can infer a studio time, a time that hangs between listening and silence, between vision and closing the eyes to apprehend a metric of thought. There, the body is measured from the objects – transferred in a more or less random process to the interior of the exhibition space -, and their mnemonic connotations. They are not so much ready-mades as a small indexical lexicon of life leaving an enigmatic ballast.
Luc Tuymans once said that he was not interested in aesthetics, but in meaning and necessity.
The iconographic route of this exhibition involves the recovery of more or less obsolete technical devices from a modernity that already has a patina. They ghostly appear in paintings as an echo of the (in)communicability attached to the tables.
A space of doubt. A space that is crystallized life in its permanent contradictions and that assumes itself as a strong statement of being towards death.
Miguel von Hafe Perez