A Cultural Interpretation of Stone PART II

31.01.2020 - 05.03.2020

Livraria Sá da Costa - Galeria - Espaço Camões, Lisbon, Portugal

Artists: Marta Alvim, Patricia Morosan, Stéphane Raynal, Louis Cyprien Rials, Jorge Santos, Ludovic Sauvage, Pedro Sequeira, Vincent Voillat, Gilles Zark

Curator: Marta Jecu

This exhibition is the 2nd part of a series of exhibitions dedicated to artistic approaches to stone and the domains of knowledge to which it is historically connected. The entire project is the outcome of a double fascination: on one hand for the persistence of this material in art and its enormous role in the history of arts, and on the other hand for the transformability and hybridity of this matter – in both past and present. As the oldest support of information in humanity and a primordial artistic matter, stone offers itself to interdisciplinary approaches.


This project involves artistic work that approaches stone from different perspectives, as the product of cosmic, geological and (more recently) technological accidents and as a generator of cultural content. The works included in this exhibition explore stone as a medium to access the past and its sedimented strata of information, seen as a fundament of the reality we live in. They mostly explore correspondences between micro- and macrouniverse and the position of the human in these complex relations.

At the same time, the works included here express the fascination for stone in a larger sense: they explore territory as surface and (un)measurable entity, the profundity of earth or the properties and forces of stone, the correspondences between vegetal and mineral. Stone is also seen is a ubiquitous contemporary presence, a hybrid entity, between real and virtual, concrete and digital.


I invited each artist to present a reference object from his personal museum – connected for him to the cultural significance of stone, but also to his work presented in this exhibition. The intention of these objects marked in a separate expositive discourse, was to create a double parcour: on one hand the artistic objects in the exhibition (that represent an interpretation of reality), and on the other hand 'found objects': collected items, curiosities with a deeper cultural or personal meaning and that extend the references of the artwork in connected domains. Each of these reference objects exhibited here are personal witnesses of fields of knowledge or practice that the artist has been involved with – heritage items from minimal, contemporary cabinets of curiosity.


MARTA ALVIM presents two elements of her Back to the Region of the Silent Sun series as well as the publication In Out and 5 Reference Points (2014). Her reference object is a detail of Diego Velazquez, Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Paul the Hermit, 1634, depicting the raven bringing to the hermit his daily nourishment. In the context of this exhibition, her collection of works immerses the viewer in correspondences between the mineral, the vegetal and the animal realm. She confronts the viewer with a lens through which the matter is radiographied and its profound, miscroscopical strata are set on display. Like in works of the other artists' included in this show, we loose scale reference and organic and inorganic become indistinct.


PATRICIA MOROSAN works with a symbolic dimension of earth, as a spiritual and metaphysical place of belonging. Her 8mm film Re/Turn, 2017, 00:59 presents stone/mountain/earth as perceived through an overhuman, universal scala approaching us to a mytical dimension of stone. Her object of reference, a reproduction of an early 20th century orthodox Icon on glass is originating in a personal portable cabinet of curiosities. It brings a note of fine humour showing a saint in his ascension journey, liberating himself from gravity as a human condition.


STÉPHANE RAYNAL offers a geological perspective, where the earth is presented from inside as a conglomerate of fossils and immemorial vestiges, but also of technological detritus. Earth, metal and stone seem both organic and inorganic, emerging from a constant cumulation of matter and time into a scale-less, infinite and indefinite mass, which is at the same time generating unpredictable forms and substances.


LOUIS CYPRIEN RIALS is presenting his series of Floating Stones (2014) which are photographies of old public fountains in countries with hydrological insufficiency and ongoing conflict. Build with the intention of offering an oasis of tranquillity in public space, these fountains are not working any more due to war and lack of water. The images were shot in Bahrain in 2014 and in North Cyprus in 2015 were the fountains were standing on roundabouts and being recently at the center of armed clashes between population and police.

His object of reference is a personal Paesina Stone – the famous landscape stones that so much fascinated the Renaissance. They re-entered into modern attention through the writings of the French mineral theoretician Roger Caillois. He interpreted the Renaissance and Baroque reading of abstract landscapes in stones as an effort of reintegrating the past into the present. Caillois talks in his book 'L'ecriture des pierres' (Skira, 1970) about a very common artistic practice in the 16th -17th centuries that was painting directly on the paesina stones. The intention was to add details to the natural landscapes and making a supposed existing 'image' more visible, more realistic. The practice was intended to smooth out the abstractness of nature and to extend stone from the realm of the natural into the artificial.


JORGE SANTOS also works with an art historical dimension, when referencing maybe the Romantism with its predilection for ruins and elegy. His drawing Fragments of love songs # (2010), demonstrates how any message inscribed in stone is already the paradigmatic means of expression directed to the future. This work has also a funeral expression, making us think of the Romantic love for ruins, tombs and fragments. In his floor piece Fracção P (2006), in white acrylic cut by laser, he keeps this funeral reference, by dissecting the floor into its deeper strata and at the same time creating a landscape of reliefs. This minimal work suggest the mental exercises required from the visitor in Zen gardens when contemplating abstract landscapes that play with correspondences between micro- and macrouniverse and bring also a temporality and monumentality that transcends the human.

His chosen object of reference is a stone grinder, alluding not only to spices and the imaginary of distant lands, but also to alchemy as the art to fuse and create new materials and properties. Its essential shape alludes also to primordial stone architecture from immeorial times to now.


The slide installation of LUDOVIC SAUVAGE 'Le jardin des pieuvres' (2016) is a counterpart of another slide installation 'Plein Soleil' (2015), presented in A CULTURAL INTERPRETATION OF STONE PART I in Marseille. Whereas that one marked a blank spot on a collection of found landscape images (reminding of the punctum of Roland Barthes), this new series of images presented here show the cut-out circle. What is behind he invisible point in an image? This blind spot of perception functions here like a lens into an extra/terrestrial, lunar arid landscape. It is creating a correspondence between the readable landscape in 'Plein Soleil' and our imaginary of other planets with their reliefs, lights and colours that nevertheless remains beyond our references.

The reference object presented by him is a a lamp and the golden sand glass it is made from. We are reminded that lens-based media (the camera, the projector and even the window – as the primordial viewing media) are all to be referenced again to stone, which – grounded – is the materia-prima of glass.


PEDRO SEQUEIRA works not only on the theme of stone, but works with stone powder, as the matter of his paintings.

As a collector of minerals and precious stones, he is interested in the aesthetic of stones but also in their rarity in relation to the territory. He is a collector of minerals in the mountains of Portugal, gem cutter and scientific scholar of precious stones. His atelier is the laboratory of a connoisseur in which (with the powder that falls of the cutting of precious stones) his large scale paintings emerge. For him, cutting gem stones or making paintings are the different consequences of the same subject.

The reference object presented by him is a book from 1947 which represents a report of the the national geologic services with their invstigations and findings from the field. This information would be later applied for different purposes like urbanism, building of roads etc. For Pedro Sequeira it works also as a sourcebook on knowing in which areas he can find certain stones in Portugal.


VINCENT VOILLAT presents a text based work, which comprises 7 commissioned texts from 'stone specialists' that all describe the significance stone has for them from a cultural perspective. Among them a narrative text of the artist himself.

The video 'Les pierres qui tournent', 2019, 8:41min is, similar to the work of Patricia Morosan, bringing an anthropo-centered dimension of the stone, confusing the time of the human with the time of the stone, in an eternal return without end and beginning. His minimal work is alluding to the cosmic movements of stone, extending the scale of a found river-stone to that of the turning planets and constellations, keeping the individual at their epicentre.

His objects of reference is a found stone which nevertheless brings a whole repertoire of art historical references from so-called 'primitive' or prehistoric sculpture to modernist interpretations of it, strikingly quoting Brancusi.


GILLES ZARK proposes in this series of digital drawings Empreinte genetique du territoire (2020) a bird's view on territory – a topographic representation of relief. Based on cartographic professional data, these images of land offer a hallucinatory dimension rendered by our own imaginary on the complexity of our inhabited world – but at the sane time based and mediated by technological information. They can represents geological strata of territory, but at the same time they can represent inhabited land and complex urban structures. Their fascination stems also from the fact that they quote anthropomorphic structures - the intricate structure of fingerprints, the brain...once again constructing correspondences, that nevertheless remain mysterious.

His reference objects, are a collection of working material from his practice as archaeologist In Sudan and Turkey: field notes, measuring tools and scientific data.