It took me some time to realize exactly what moved me in Catarina's images. Initially, I was convinced it was the quality of light she could reveal, and I remembered the image of a boy at the top of an escarpment overlooking the sea with his back to the camera, his gaze fixed on the water, and a sand-colored towel fluttering over his bare shoulder. I remember thinking how the intensity of that escarpment - in theory, the driest of landscapes - could serve as a good example of how much a picture can magnify our experience of reality. I confirmed this initial theory in other images that shared, with this one, an assumed tendency for the hyper-representation of textures, for a wide and clear depth of field, for a judicious compositional construction and even for an episodic approximation to the protocols, effects and visual regimes of painting.
Up until a certain time, therefore, my relationship with Catarina's works was based on a kind of formal fascination, as if the astonishment my eyes returned to her images kept me from realizing what was being portrayed beyond the surface. Another image, however, broke this alienation and began to reveal the tangle of procedures, relationships and thematic recurrences that underlie Catarina's practice and have met new and deeper unfoldings in this exhibition. In that image, a young man (the same?) is lying on the grass, his back turned to the camera, his naked trunk sprinkled with small signs, like a map without a territory. The quality of the light, the richness of the textures, the compositional rigor and the pictorial allusion remained, but what was revealed now was, above all, the degree of intimacy supporting this photograph and the way in which the arrangement of what is omitted and what is shown promotes a kind of short circuit in the suggestive valence of the image, preventing our attention from dissipating or from deciphering it.
The fact that this exhibition has earned the title of Eclipse is not entirely causal. In fact, much of what is presented here, and of how it is presented, has to do with this phenomenon of occultation that the idea of eclipse signals: an interposing body, another one fragmented, an all veiling shadow and the halo of things that are hidden and, in this condition, seem to shine stronger. The hiding and fragmenting of the eclipse that brings us here is the fruit of a trained gaze: one that knows how to cut out of a scene everything and only that which will keep us interested. That knows that this interest depends entirely on a denial, a refusal to declare at once its true attempts, and the reverse effect this refusal provokes in the imagination. The less you see, the more you imagine, and this is a secret that Catarina knows only too well.
It is, most probably, why everything in this exhibition is deliberately partial, truncated, dubious. It is all (or almost) at a distance of two steps, this measure that is not close enough for everything to become an abstraction, nor too far for it to become a description. It is a distance that puts us in the place of the participant rather than in the place of the witness and thus leaves us in command of the vehicle of meaning the set of these images will create. Between the angular view of a broken window, the perfect symmetry of a horse's hair, a body resting on an uncertain bed, the windshield of a car that mirrors the city, the blind gaze of a plaster figure in a manor house - the impressive picture of the suggestion to remind us that the narrative is more intriguing when it is silent, the gaze is sharpest when it does not find what it seeks, the sun more ponderous when the moon stands in between.
Catarina Osório de Castro est une marcheuse infatigable. L'essai esthétique qu'elle propose est la manifestation d’un état à la fois émotionnel et spirituel. La contemplation du paysage devient le vecteur d'une expérience qui la transcende. Penser le paysage, pour la photographe est un exercice d'attention renouvelé. C’est aussi l'effort d'un regard sans préjugé à la recherche d'un code caché, propice aux rencontres secrètes.
Catarina photographe la mer et son action sur l'environnement. Dans ses images, la mer devient un symbole dynamique de la vie. D'une vie infinie et illimitée. C'est un lieu de commencement, de transformation et de renaissance. Le rythme désordonné des vagues sur les rochers, laisse derrière lui une traînée d'enregistrements formels, qui nous ramène à um lieu commun, le corps. Un corpus d'images masculin et féminin. Les éléments constitutifs du paysage sont symboliquement isolés afin de créer un parcours intense et épique. Un voyage dans un temps primordial. Aux origines du monde.
Maria M. Gomes
The Suspension of Time
In Devagar, Catarina Osório de Castro presents a set of square color photographs of varied dimensions, revealing a visual process of investigation in which she disassembles the physical, private and public space in their primordial elements and in their significant details.
The elemental geometrical shapes appear regularly as an effort to organize and to confer meaning to space. We sense, in each photograph, the suspension of time and a determinate movement towards the subject, towards the capturing of its essence.
The contrasting sunlight and the deep shadows also take part in this process of simplification of forms. Tridimensional elements are restricted to their bidimensional correspondents: a rock massif on a beach and a pyramidal funerary monument are converted to triangles.
Elements of vegetation are also recurrent. To the possibility of observing a whole tree, the artist counterposes images which result from a surgical double process of observation. Sectioned tree trunks reveal their elemental forms and allow for an observation of their interior, as if searching for their intimacy while, at the same time, showing, in their rings, the lengthy time of their growth.
The oscillation between public and private space is smoothened by a construction of intimacy in public spaces. The gesture of approximation to subjects and a slow, meticulous observation are the artist’s method of preference for the elaboration of her photographs.
Also at the level of form we observe an oscillation between poles. The recurring presence of water, in diverse contexts and with different plasticities, introduces a dimension of flow and accentuates the melancholic and poetic aspects of the work: a duvet dripping towards the floor, the hair of a friend or the undulating surface of a stone table.
As a whole, this series of images summons the observer to experience Catarina Osório de Castro’s marvel at the world around her and the enchantment that motivates the construction of this visual diary.
Bruno Pelletier Sequeira