ALBERTO CARNEIRO’S EXHIBITION TREES OPENS 9 JUNE
On 9 June the CDAN will open Alberto Carneiro’s exhibition Trees, curated by Javier Maderuelo. The exhibition will run until 20 August.
In 1968, while living in London, Alberto Carneiro came to recognise that his work as an artist needed to be rooted in the experience of his own body, that a work must emerge from lived processes, more than from conceptual processes, and that these processes must be related to the energy of material rather than its form, given that form is mere appearance, while the essence of things is energy. Seen in this light, material is simply a physical manifestation of energy.
One of the notable aspects of the work done by Carneiro during the seventies is the continuous reference to trees. He names trees in titles and texts, represents them in drawings and photographs, and uses them in his work, either as living elements or in the form of wooden trunks which, not having been altered to any great degree, remain recognisable as treelike in nature. Trees thus become the focal point of his work.
When Carneiro attempted to return to the ‘trade’ of sculptor, he did not his wish to be drawn again into the tedious and artificial debate about abstraction and figuration; neither did he seek to recover the narrative discourse for which images, signs and forms had been a vehicle in the past. Instead he tried to explore the existential dialectics between man and the world, between the subject and nature, handling the material once again and feeling its effects in his own body.
Recovering a trade means reclaiming man’s capacity to act on the world, the physical power to transform, the possibility of testing the strength of the human body against the mass of the material things around us. The notion of a trade implies mastery of the material with which the tradesman works. Traditionally, each material has given rise to a corresponding trade: the blacksmith, the carpenter, the weaver, and the baker all exemplify this.
Alberto Carneiro – a man who was born and has lived among trees in the village of Coronado (Portugal) – did not hesitate to choose trees as the material he would work with and the theme that would run through his work, making the act of carving trees his ‘trade’ as a sculptor. Trees are still to be seen in the finished works of Alberto Carneiro: trunks, knots, the way they lean, and the bending of their branches. What the artist does is to accentuate the expressive sense of the material body, reaffirm directions, enlarge crevices, highlighting what is specific and unique in each of the plant specimens he works on.
These works are not intended to be formalistic. The aim is not to reproduce or accentuate the appearance of trees, or to restore essential figures, but to recover the energy trees carry within them, even after they have been cut down. The difference between a tree and a work of art made a tree is that in the second case the artist has also become the work. He has been transformed by the depth of his feeling and the action of his muscles into a tree, and both have fused into a single primal body.