Ernesto de Sousa’s photographs are details of a narrative, the pictures taken by a filmmaker, remains and fragments of memories, witnesses to moments, maps of personal relationships and exercises in aesthetic militancy.
Their sequential nature builds a panorama of Portuguese art, and shows the web of personal relationships that defined a network of paths in the late sixties, involving a rejection of painting, a vague idea of experimentalism and a fascination for the transforming possibility of an art that mixed concept and change.
The revolution, its utopia, and the fiction of absolute transformation run through these images, coming from a mysterious project that link them to the mark of his foot made with rubber stamp ink on a shoe cloth from the Hotel des Colonies, in Brussels, and an envelope addressed to the “Painter José Ernesto de Sousa” from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. This was presented to the exhibition O papel como suporte de expressão plástica, which was held at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes in July 1977, and was excluded by the jury, which would only accept the photographic proofs – which led Ernesto de Sousa removing the work from the exhibition on the day of the inauguration, with a great deal of kerfuffle and video recording.
These pictures by Ernesto de Sousa are a sign of those times of quick changes: the mark of a foot on a shoe shin paper, an envelope, contact proofs as photograms for a possible film, the irony of the showing of the title “painter”: everything speaks of shifting and change, of travel and disquiet.
They are a moment in the flow of signs of change that made up his path as a critic, an essayist, and as an aesthetic operator, as he called himself.