Under the Light of Another Sun ◄ Back


(...) Francisco Laranjo executed most of the works presented here while he was in Germany, or after he visited, on more than one occasion, the galleries where the grand art of German Romanticism is preserved. A painter who studies painting, a tireless observer of its mystery, Laranjo went there to apprehend spaces, colours, small gestures. And from Caspar Friedrich he must have learned about the fluid, almost aquatic transparencies, as from others he learned about that form which obscurity takes on as it becomes more dense within a night that is more profound than night itself, because it was the meaning of the nights of the soul that these painters wanted to communicate. And what he registers are brief, delicate, almost fleeting annotations, inaugurating within his own painting a new perception of what painting is. To the broad, almost Japanese gesture with the intensity of a proximate vibration that characterized his previous work, the artist now adds another perception of space, more attuned to depth than to the surface, as if he wants to reinvent space where it is absent, in order to forget that he knows that painting does not represent and to turn toward an illusory space in order to populate it, not with figures, but with annotations about them. At times, as if they were petals, and at other times, as if simple flowers of astonishment, or still at other times, as if annotations of glances or sentiments, his charcoal and oil drawings, more liquid than ever, pursue a vertiginous flight from space to an infinite point from which to contemplate the abyss, just as Friederich’s wild characters, backs turned toward the world, would contemplate the abyss, from the boundary of a ravine brushing upon the dawn. Not because Laranjo is nostalgic, but because, within his discovery of the deep act of painting, he perceives how nostalgia also inhabits within his being, at least as a memory inscribed upon that vast homeland which others, before him, traversed. Thus, his space becomes obscure, even if it is transparent and able to collect the suns and moons of the painting. Thus, certain parts take on shadows. Thus, other spaces become golden and surprising, or the waters of obscure memory that he perceives in those masters take on the green of lichen, as their sense of mystery and obscurity, which becomes as an elegy with an essential, nocturnal knowledge, also touches him. And from this knowledge of mists and darkness, the painter embarks upon the discovery of other lights that his painting knew not, thereby giving it freedom to pursue a more fluid, freer gesture, more unbound in space and in the time it takes to perceive the painting materials. Small figures like us, like skeins, try to hang from this space, suggesting that we exist imperceptibly playing within nature. They are as figures of the soul, abstract, contemplating the knowledge of a world still, and for always, to be, because it is the homeland of the soul before it is of time. And their time and space are physically immaterial. In this sense, this observation of the inaudible and profound gave our painter the understanding of a breadth and depth that, before, his painting could not understand because it was focused on other types of issues. And since Francisco Laranjo is a painter of painting, that is, someone who wants to confront that which is most specific within painting, as a form of learning more than as the learning of form, it was unavoidable that he would approximate this obscure domain of German Romanticism, where another perception of space-time was perceived, within the vast search of Western painting for the means to communicate certain aspects of the life of the spirit. And those things which appear to be flowers, or skeins suspended in space, or sometimes silhouettes of Medieval masks, while being such – because in painting all that we see ends up being there since this is its profound truth – participate, above all, within an understanding of those forms which thinking has in order to involve itself, to reflect upon itself, in order to affront spaces that it could not, or would not, reach. These are, thus, gestures of pure approximation, similar to those we remove when we approach a mystery, or when we discern a new understanding of something that, before, we had not been able to comprehend in its totality. In this way, the work of Francisco Laranjo takes on a new incidence, or a new consciousness, as it becomes involved with a difficulty that is greater than that which it had found thus far. From a mute space where he searched for the core of his work, he has moved on to a more distant, I would say a more spiritual dimension of that search, which leads him to gestures identified as previous to any designated form.(...)

Bernardo Pinto de Almeida

Out of the text published in The Catalogue "Under Different Skies", July 2003


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