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Rui Calçada Bastos

Rui Calçada Bastos also exploits astute readings of the early conceptual artists. He talks of “revealing the City’s intimate histories and continuous memory” and “the sensitivities that become attached to spaces”. That is a large plateful since Berlin is certainly a city that abounds with histories – some are intimate to the story of the city itself and other to the individuals who live there - but Calçada Bastos´ intention is to focus on particulars, to dig them out by attention to detail. He avoids the large stories: Berlin of the Second World War, Berlin of the Fall of the Wall, Berlin of the night life of the neo expressionists, from Fetting, Salome etc running on down until it ran out, Berlin with its Beuysian Academy, Berlin with the presence of Michael Werner, Sigmar Polke, Jorg Immendorf, and Markus Lupertz, Berlin of the spy films, of Lotte Lenya, of the Air Lift, of Willy Brandt, Berlin of May 68, of cheap property, of artist studios, of immigrants. He tries to find more what Cezanne called les petites sensations, the glimpses of things that suggest the city’s sensitivity, its moods and rhythms, the soundscapes, the sense of roaming the city, the accumulation of visual knowledge that finally allows us to feel at ease, to somehow belong.

His work constantly plays with the mediums that he uses, with the forms of representation and the meanings they inherently carry, between video and photography, between video and drawing. A video for a photograph/A photograph for a video (2006) shows in a Marcusian sense how the medium carries the message, how these two contemporary forms of representing reality, a mediated reality that is now as common in advanced technological societies as direct contact itself with the “real”. Calçada Bastos juxtaposes these representations and shows how our experience of the same image is not the same. There are issues of time, of play on the optical nerves, of size, of concentration that make the reception of the same image very different. This is even more apparent in Self-Portrait while thinking (2007) where he juxtaposes a series of charcoal drawings with a video projection. Without suggesting any direct influence I think of Bruce Naumann´s emphasis on the role of language in his re-evaluation of pictorial form and his use of his own bodily presence as for example in Eleven Color Photographs (1966-70) full of visual and linguistic double entendres. And I also think more specifically of Bas Jan Ader´s I´m too sad to tell you where he breaks down in tears and provides no guide lines as to its meaning, apart from references to Bellini and van der Weyden Calçada Bastos makes it clear how the reception of these images according to the medium used changes radically. The drawings are expressive, contain the emotions produced by touch, they take us in to the person. He uses the same expressions and poses as in the video but the video cools things down and the idea stands out as more apparent. The communication is quicker and more direct, the humour and play more evident. It is a work that carries numerous levels of meaning. It holds our attention and entertains our mind.

Kevin Power in Itinerarios 06 – 07 Catalogue, XV Becas de Artes Plásticas, 2008