Bruno Pacheco’s painting is always a game on the history of photography, on TV as a device for the masses and on the history of painting itself as a practice and artistic genre.
For a relatively long period of his production Pacheco worked on a specific type of pictorial (and photographic) genre, the “group portrait”.
In the history of painting there is a lengthy tradition of this kind of work, normally centred on the need to depict professional, social, political and family groups. One doesn’t need to make a great effort to find many different examples of the strategies for depicting groups in the history of major European painting, going from the famous case of the Night watch (1642), by Rembrandt van Rijn, to The maids of honour (1656), by Velázquez. In either of these cases (as in many others throughout the 17th and 18th century), the group portrait serves a purpose that is simultaneously global – often proposing a determined political canon, an ideological configuration or a social consecration – and centred on the character of each of the figures that make up the picture.
The photographic group portrait works in a different manner: it is normally facing the camera, the centre is on the shot and the attention of those portrayed is normally concentrated on the lens (in order to maintain the promise of the eternity of the moment of the meeting caught by the photograph).
Bruno Pacheco brings this type of photograph into the pictorial universe, portraying sets (of soldiers, girls, tourists, and clowns) from more or less undifferentiated photos of groups for no specific reason other than that of being organized to celebrate something.
It is obvious that when one converts this photographic logic into painting – with its monumental nature, slowness and difficult procedures – it becomes ironic and poses questions about the conditions that a picture should have in order to deserve to be converted into painting (with all the baggage of the past and the tradition of the fine arts that this involves). Indeed, the irony present in Happy hour foresees a questioning as to the meaning of the pictorial image, something which is very pertinent in the current context of painting given that after the major transformations it underwent during the 20th century (with the emerging of abstraction, collage, and its relationship with reproducibility in pop art) it has been the object of successive announcements of death, systematically followed by processes of mourning.
In Bruno Pacheco’s painting there is a relationship with the tradition of painting that survived these successive deaths, but is no longer living out their mourning.
As takes place in Happy hour, it is the banal TV atmosphere of the circus, mixed in with the visual logic of the medium of photography, which spurs on the possibility of painting, which is probably all the more abstract when considering the irrelevance of the indifferent figuration.

Delfim Sardo


  • Title: Happy hour #2
  • Creator: Bruno Pacheco
  • Date Created: 2005
  • Location: Lisbon
  • Physical Dimensions: 190 x 300 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: © Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Photographer: © DMF, Lisboa
  • Inventory: 603772

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