FLOR DE SAL
BY DIANA CARVALHO
The "Flor de Sal" project was presented by Diana Carvalho as an individual exhibition, curated by Óscar Faria, at Sismógrafo, Porto, between 14th October and 12th November 2016.
Deceiving the eyes
by Óscar Faria
Everyone knows the story, but it’s never too much to remember it: according to Pliny the Elder, one day, in the fourth century BC, Zeuxis, a Greek artist, painted so perfectly a bunch of grapes that he has even mislead a group of birds, which fell upon the image taking that they had before them the real fruits. Knowing this, Parrasio invited Zeuxis to go to his studio, inviting him to remove the curtain that covered his masterpiece. When attempting to perform this action, Zeuxis realised he had fallen into a trap: the curtain was itself a painting. In this story of deception, it is said that the victory went to Parrasio – known as the Pornographer, not only for painting pictures for brothels, but also for painting nudes of his lover –, as he managed to deceive a colleague.
The “trompe-l’oeil”, an expression coined in the Baroque period, has therefore remote origins. There are other examples that can be cited, for example the one reported in the sixteen century by Vasari, who wanted to prove the precocity of Giotto (1266-1337). The Italian artist had painted on top of a nose of a work by Cimabue, a fly. When the latter returned to the studio to continue his work, "he tried several times to scare the fly with his hand, thinking it was real, before acknowledging his mistake."
It is, however, the example of Fra Angelico, as studied by Georges Didi-Huberman in "Dissemblance et Figuration", which brings us closer to the exhibition "Flor de Sal" [Flower of Salt], by Diana Carvalho. It is a text organized around an enigma, the pans of painting – “pans de peinture” – that the artist executed under the fresco panel “Ognissanti Madonna” (circa 1450), in the convent of San Marco, Florence. In these four pieces that imitate marble, and represent nothing, the French historian sees dissimilarities in the sense of medieval theology: "(...) to figure something is no longer to seek the resemblance. It is more to find a dynamic shift, a shift out of appearance – for example, signify 'the Christ' figuring a simple rock, according to a Christian exegesis of a passage from the Old Testament... And we now understand that 'figuring' again 'means a thing without making its visible likeness' – so it is a principle – semiotic, aesthetic – of dissimilarity."
In "Flor de Sal", Diana Carvalho reveals a set of photographs, which were, in themselves, born of a proximity to painting. The pictures do not lie, do not deceive, but contain elements looking for deception. We can see tiles and blinds, walls and a liquid surface. One can find, mostly, references to Abstract Art, to the “tromp-l’oeil”, to the idea of a painting as a physical object and not a metaphor for something else. It can evoke names, references, some of them close, other ones never thought by the artist: Wade Guyton, Cory Arcangel, Frank Stella, Fra Angelico… The pictorial plane as an open window to the world, theorized in the Renaissance, is here displaced, by the photographic – analog or digital –, to a conceptual dimension: the repetition of a pattern that suggests clouds in one work finds correspondence in a salt mine of another work. Deceiving the eyes, seems to be the aim of the artist, that between domestic interiors and street and landscape fragments, invites us to decode the riddle before us: the loneliness of the creative act, that crossing of the world always looking for a lost time, which is found again in the minimum details.
Diana Carvalho (Lisbon, 1986) has a degree in Painting (2005-2009) and a master in Contemporary Artistic Practices (2010-2012) by teh Faculty of Fine Arts University of Porto. In 2008, during her degree, she was a student at Hochschule für Bildende Künste Dresden, Germany, under Erasmus Programme and, in 2011, during her master, she attended one semestre as an exchange student at the School of Communications and Arts of UNiversity of São Paulo, Brazil, under a Santander scholarship. Diana Carvalho realised the following solo exhibitions: in 2015, "Ruh!", Rua do Sol, Porto and "Pertences", Mupi Gallery, Maus Hábitos, Porto; in 2013, "Colónia de Férias", Boutique – Raum für temporäre Kunst (integrated in the programme of The ocean and the river – Karat), Cologne, Germany. Recent group shows include: in 2016, "Tarmacadame", Porto and "A meio de qualquer coisa", Galeria Graça Brandão, Lisbon; in 2015, "Geração Y", Paços do Concelho, Porto and "Ontem como Hoje", Bienal da Maia; in 2014, "Sem Quartel", Sismógrafo, Porto and "A riqueza múltipla e multiplicadora da ambiguidade”, Espaço Mira, Porto; in 2013, "Grandes Férias", Rua do sol 172, Porto; "Copi Copi", Galeria 111, Porto and "BES Revelação 2012", BES Arte e Finança, Lisbon; in 2012, "BES Revelação", Museu de Serralves, Porto and "Qualquer coisa", Museu da Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto.