“It was all too cerebral, too intelligent and sophisticated… There was no room for mistakes or even just trying things out… Going back to drawing and painting simply gave me back a sense of adventure, a delicate loss of balance, trial and error. Things could suddenly go wrong, and I didn’t really know what the work would be like on completion. It was a surprise, a sensual pleasure, a feeling of the unexpected. Risk was present in my work once again...”
This is how Julião Sarmento describes the moment in the early 1980s when he rediscovered the canvas and drawing as primary, almost spontaneous and pre-rational means of expression. His words betray the enthusiasm of a poet giving free rein to the most natural impulses of his spirit, whose work is joyful adventure and intimate (im)balance between forms of expression. At the same time, in Sarmento’s long and intense experience, and in the inspiration openly drawn from the work of Morandi and LeWitt, there is also a clear and almost scientific striving for solid formal coherence.
We thus have departures and returns, instinct and investigation, and perhaps also chaos and order in a mutually generative relationship that lives and draws sustenance uninterruptedly
within the same continuum. As he says, “What I do today is the direct consequence what I did yesterday.”
If “the works flow in time”, as he puts it, what is presented in this show constitutes, however, not only a dialogue (as in the philosophy of the project to which it belongs) but also a temporal segment of Julião Sarmento’s artistic experience capable in its complexity of prompting awareness of events and creative evolutions that would otherwise escape attention and that culminate as a whole in another “delicate loss of balance”, this time in the viewer.
Turin, GAM, June - August 2014