[open the box] Alberto Carneiro

BEFORE by Delfim Sardo

By Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

O canavial: memória metamorfose de um corpo ausente, From the collection of: Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
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O canavial: memória metamorfose de um corpo ausente, From the collection of: Culturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos
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ALBERTO CARNEIRO, O canavial: memória metamorfose de um corpo ausente, 1968, reeds, coloured ribbons, transfer lettering and raffia, variable dimensions, inventory 360824, © Courtesy of the artist

O canavial: memória metamorfose de um corpo ausenteCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

There is a book by the Italian writer Roberto Calasso in which the author is always asking about what is before. Before thought, before philosophy, before reason, before the logos. Before.

O canavial: memória metamorfose de um corpo ausenteCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

In the network of reeds in this sculpture by Alberto Carneiro there is the same question about a before-art towards an aesthetic vernacular nature.

O canavial is an installation from 1968 that links two other installations in his work that start out from the same principle and which are: Uma floresta para os teus sonhos [A forest for your dreams], 1970, and Um campo depois da colheita para deleite estético dos nossos corpos [A field after harvest for the delight of our bodies], 1973-1976. The three are tellurian situations in which the smell of the land recreated in the exhibition space by the strict and careful organization of elements from the nature cycle produce machines for travelling in time and space towards the spectator. When faced with these sculptures we are transported into a time before and an originating place. The layout of the works, the logs, the haystacks or, in this case, the reeds, obviously follow strict aesthetic and organizational criteria, but the feeling that the spectator gets is that he has dived, through some emotional and affective mechanism of transportation, into a time before the artistic, into a lost time in which aesthetic emotion was linked to primary sensations. For this reason O canavial is an extraordinary work – a passport manipulated by the artist towards something that does not belong to the field of created nature but of creating nature itself, of Natura Naturans, as Spinoza used to state.

Registo de uma intervenção na natureza (1973) by Alberto CarneiroCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

Alberto Carneiro

Registo de uma intervenção na natureza, 1973
Vintage gelatin silver prints on cardboard
79 x 70 cm
Inventory 422036
© Laura Castro Caldas / Paulo Cintra

Art can try to do very little more than this: to transform its aesthetic organization into fiction that is truly original and, to this end (which for Alberto Carneiro is ecological, as he wrote in the 1968 Manifesto) to involve the spectator – above all because in a reed bed the search is for the absent body, for that body which one day (if ever) might complete ours.

We always have a memory of it, and in it resides our expectation of completeness.

Registo de uma intervenção na natureza (1973) by Alberto CarneiroCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

“Life is beautiful”, wrote Jorge de Sena, “particularly because we do not have any other, but also because we hope tomorrow to have the body that we desired yesterday”. Art, sometimes, is the most happy and most raw food for that fiction.

Biography
Alberto Carneiro was born in 1937 in São Mamede do Coronado, Trofa. He studied in the Soares dos Reis (Oporto) and António Arroio (Lisbon) schools. He graduated in Sculpture at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes do Porto (1961-1967), having done a postgraduation at the Saint Martin’s School of Art, in London (1968-1970), with a grant from the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. He started by working in the religious art workshops in his home- town (1947-1958). He exhibited for the first time in 1963. He was a teacher at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes and at the Faculdade de Arquitectura do Porto. He was also responsible for the artistic and pedagogical orientation of the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra. His work has been presented in several different institutions, with special note for his solo exhibitions at the Fundação de Serralves (Oporto, 1991), and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (Santiago de Compostela, 2001).

Bibliography
Alberto Carneiro (cat.), Lisboa, Fun- dação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1991.
Alberto Carneiro, raízes, caules, folhas, flores e frutos (cat.), Porto, Galeria Quadrado Azul, 2000.

Credits: Story

Text
© Delfim Sardo, 2009
Biography / Bibliography
© Mariana Viterbo Brandão, 2009
Translation
© David Alan Prescott, 2009

Story production (Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos)
Lúcia Marques (coordinator)
Hugo Dinis (production assistant)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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