Paintings, here are eighteen canvases, two of which are a combination of mixed media with pastel and graphite – “The Beginning of the Spiral” – and graphite in “Body and Soul,” a title which also designates this exhibit by Luís França, so that the idea behind the Latin expression Anima – Soul – would not generate, due to a mispronunciation – animate – an interpretative deficiency or semantic distortion. Varied in size, yet without miniatures opposed to limitless grandiosity, these are paintings from 2003 which, in this way, allow a visual spectacle of a harmonious set of works. And this agrees with the space of the Gallery, despite, in terms of museum layout, the break in rhythm dictated by the structural protuberance that supports the arch of the roof. The exhibit unfolds in as many themes as there are paintings – as the individualization of titles suggest right off; yet, these are not chapters of a narrated story, scenes from a play, movements of a symphony or parts of a dance. Luís França does not intend to search for a style; rather, he is searching for an artistic idiom – announced in previous exhibits – based on the figure, where the contemporary attitude is a return to painting as the ideological basis, able to establish a dialogue with the abstract, interpreted as broadcaster of idealistic concepts. Rejecting iconoclastic fundamentalisms christened as Postmodernism, as well as anti-culture movements born in the beginning of the 20th century, when leaders and followers thought they could declare the death of figurative painting, Luís França appeals to a mythic poetics, which for him is the imaginative fascination of creating paintings. But he also declares these paintings to be lived memories, whose leading role is the creation of open spaces, without imitations of figures or background. In other words, through these paintings he rends the real world and deconstructs memories, settled and sedimented, of what he has come to know. Thus, he conceives them as places of revelation made into fantasy, with no time or space, making each one a shelter where he retreats and where he invites us, through his invention of painting. Traversing the dream from paradise to paradise, he has introduced expurgated elements and motifs, which render them scenographic spaces. Generally divided into a variety of settings or occasionally made infinite – “The Beginning of the Spiral,” “The Desert and the Spin” and “Canto da Maia in Paradise” – they are all inhabited by sketches that are humanized and that have other morphologies, without fussiness in the style of old icons. More puppets than persons or animals, they make their painted silence heard, at times through the tutelary presence of a tree or bush, as a source of life from which springs the dream and which awakens to the sharing of love – “The Desert and the Skin;” questions silence – “The Bird Man;” inspires the artist’s imagination – “Body and Soul;” nurtures the urgency of love – “My Body is of the Same Flesh as the Earth.” In this voyage of eternal return of a modern Ulysses, without the Homeric misadventures, there is no sensual, expectant “Circe” or “Io” that might impede the “message,” repeated in “confidentialities” murmured before the sphinx “Cat and Silence,” as recluse. Just as “The Waters that Run Serve to Inspire the Poet,” the painter travestied as Hamlet caressing the skull, asks “The Beginning of the Spiral” to create the world that escapes him, where there are “dogs the colour of lions” tranquilly awaiting to be fed, oblivious to “Why Noah’s Crow Sings” and that “In Tessalia There Is a Maiden Named Leonor.” “Eating the Dream,” while “Someone Draws in the Shade” and a new Penelope, sitting but not knitting, is “Awaiting Ulysses,” Luís França revists “Canto da Maia in Paradise” – a better fate than the Medieval Period bequeathed to Dante of the Divine Comedy – with a Hymn to the Love of the progenitors of Humanity and not the traditional sinful inversion of divine will. Blue flakes circle the mountainous image. Far away is the tree of temptation and, in the thin border that completes the bi-dimension of space, nebulous tonalities pile up, as if the awakening to the reality of a convulsive world were approaching in order to quiet the voice of the dream. Due to aesthetic coherence, within the pictorial language of this “Body and Soul” proposed by Luís França, the luminosity of the golden yellow, through a variety of changes, is the dominant visual act in which the autumnal melancholy combines with ochre, reddish and greenish yellow, meticulously spread out but, at times, already become stains or vapours. They also join with the black of solitude and nostalgia, the red with its chaste, erotic function, and the calm coldness of the green, as they appear in the episodic notes of some paintings. From the chromatic dimension of concrete elements or background elements, the palette invests also in the blue that clothes bodies in search of what is unknown and distant, but mostly and distinctly in celestial blue because it has no limits and is the proper means for the painter to overtake what is tangible and to reach infinity, and with it, the plenitude of imagined love.
Nestor de Sousa