The burning plain

João Castilho

05/Oct/2017 – 04/Nov/2017

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Press Release

In his new solo exhibition, features new series of photographs and sculptures that reflect on new reordering of reality. Curated by Michelle Sommer, the exhibition is on untill November 4th.

Critical essay

We reside in the universe; we reside on Earth; we reside in a house; we reside in a body. We are always residing – unrelenting gerund – within. On earth, beneath the sky – before the divine and among mortals – there is a large “keeping” that keeps a graduation of the contained. However, within the structure that conforms the cosmos there is a strange structural disjunction.


Ground Ablaze connects contained in an open temporal arch between past and future, which are rearranged by João Castilho in a dystopian state. In the border of that which already isn’t before, nor yet the after, the artist stems the present with a moment that is absolutely necessary for the following one. Maybe because the end isn’t a future event, but something already realized and men’s return to animality isn’t a future possibility, but a certainty of now.


In this foggy zone, the emergence of the surreal derives from fables that appear to smell like a toasted sun that awakens things and gives life to forms in narrative experimentations. Something between the strange and the familiar, which can be seen as close and distant at the same time, unknown and disturbing, which fascinates for the mysterious sense typical of that which doesn’t belong to the immediate recognition of the identifiable “what is this”. In the absence of outlines of the stemmed present lies an apparent calm that, slowly, disturbs everything. Maybe this is Earth’s last day and we are between catastrophe and redemption.


The burning skies of Dois Sóis (Two Suns) (2017), are they rising or setting? If the inclination is the beginning, dusk is the slope towards the end of something that reaches its limit, including the moment in which the sun crosses the horizon and disappears. A chicken in tennis shows, the dog’s Russian roulette, an alligator rings the doorbell: Revanche Animal (Animal Revenge) (2017) is the vicissitude of memory in documentations from the internet that are transformed in cyanotype images – the sunlight – or the two suns – can also be impression forces. In the blue landscape, a composition of fragments moves toward becoming an animal-human, scrambled by reparation desires before a defeated humanity.


While a man sings a song from a bird animal – Birdman (2017); the bird João de Barro is evoked by its minimal residential unit – a nest – which, piled on to Torres (Towers) (2017), behaves like a unbalanced modernist building, where neighbor bodies share partitions. Passos Fósseis (Fossil Steps) (2017) registers in photographs the traces from dinosaur footprints found in Paraíba (in a temporal scale of 100 million years) and, thus, the past is imprinted and eternalized simultaneously to present time in which the animals of our Era are fossilized in bronze to conform Marca Infinita (Infinite Imprint) (2017). From the prison of time to the prison of the wind – movement – three Pequenos Furacões (Small Hurricanes) (2017) are sustained in a static floating balance. Like a balm between the oppositions game, Rio (2017) contains golden fractal mountains that hide traces of past waters that flowed other margins in the beyond, among the countless journeys a river has.


Ground Ablaze is a magnetic field of contraries, it testifies to presences in an absent present, presents the strife of the state we’re in. On the Earth that stings – and sometimes burns – in the uncomfortable agitation with certain melancholic grace and a half-smile of cheerful pessimism, João Castilho’s apocalyptical time is a pluralist fiction that holds endless poetry; before the after.


Michelle Sommer

Catalog