Let us imagine that there was no art yet, nor collectors, nor critics, nor sponsors, nor museums, nor galleries. Imagine a before the artistic, a time when images and objects had a magic intensity, and inspired fear or laughter, amazement or desire.
That is the matter that Francisco Tropa works with.
His works are evocations of moments, stories or situations, normally of founding moments or those that possess a unique value – that belong to the extraordinary. Tropa invests enormous effort in preparation and seeks extreme rigour, producing powerful, timeless images that create very allegorical situations that seem to use a forgotten language of form, but which require the spectator to have an endless web of interpretation in order to find a meaning that is always hidden, always beyond what we see. Yet it is never like that: much the opposite, what we see and the smell we feel are the matter of their extremely fine making – which, indeed, is clearly indicated in the Masonic title of these works generically titled A assembleia de Euclides.
The skeleton that is half covered in straw, or the bronze skull exhibited inside part of the mould speak of sculpture, the body and death.
Sculpture is born out of the need to evoke the absent, those who die; for this reason sculpture is intimately linked to funereal objects or, later on, to the will to perpetuate someone’s image among the living, whether inside a monument, in the city or inside the house.
Also for this reason, sculpture needs plinths, which remove the objects from contact with the force of gravity, isolating them from the ground, an inevitable destiny of human perishability.
Many of the most present and powerful metaphors on the human condition have to do with the frustrated attempt to escape gravity – like the myth of Icarus – or to the fall as a human destiny – like the idea of the fall of an angel, or the fall into sin.
Being aware of this origin of the sculptural, Francisco Tropa developed a series of works that use the skeleton as a starting point for the sculpture of a body, then to cover the bones with clay, or straw or soil, invoking the first processes of finding the stability of clay through baking it.
The mould (one of the traditional processes of sculpture, like hollowing and linking) is here presented around the object it produces, like the body that covers the skeleton, but with its function being inverted. The showcase is like a casket in which the body-sculpture, the skeleton coated in a fragile and archaic covering, once again meets sculptural and human verticality.
These works obviously do not intend to be replicas of objects of worship. They are cunning operations on the capacity for transfiguration found in the artistic process, which is a machine for converting some things into others, for changing the status and the symbolic of what we are looking at.
They are theatrical objects that make us try to find that previous condition and for a brief moment live an emotion of discovery. As if it were possible.

Delfim Sardo


  • Title: A assembleia de Euclides (corpo)
  • Creator: Francisco Tropa
  • Date Created: 2004
  • Location: Lisbon
  • Physical Dimensions: 192 x 81 x 42 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: © Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  • Medium: Anatomy skeleton. lime, eucalyptus branches and various grasses, linen and sisal, rope, display case
  • Photographer: © DMF, Lisboa
  • Inventory: 593444, 593444

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