Lessons of Darkness Group exhibition curated by Nuno Faria with Daniel Barroca and Diango Hernández

O6 Jul. – 31 Dec.
José De Guimarães International Centre For The Arts (Ciajg)
Av. Conde Margaride, nº 175
4810-535 Guimarães


With Vasco Barata, Daniel Barroca, Pedro Valdez Cardoso, Rui Chafes, Otelo Fabião, José de Guimarães, Diango Hernández, Ricardo Jacinto*, Manuel Viegas Guerreiro, Francisco Janes, Hassan Khan*, Manuel Santos Maia, Rosalind Nashashibi e Lucy Skaer*, Luís Nobre, Pedro A. H. Paixão, Teixeira de Pascoaes, f.marquespenteado, Benjamim Pereira, António Reis, Jean Rouch, Thierry Simões, Rui Toscano. * from October onwards

Lessons of Darkness

Much more than a simple exhibition, Lessons of Darkness is the motto for the new and enlarged venture of the José de Guimarães International Centre for the Arts (CIAJG). As with the previous exhibition displayed in the centre, this initiative has been devised on the basis of José de Guimarães’ collections – the institution’s primary resource – in order to conjure up a series of interventions by various contemporary artists and works and objects drawn from the local region’s popular, religious and archaeological heritage.

While on the one hand, the present setting-up advances the lines of inquiry opened with the previous exhibition, Beyond History, in some cases even furthering them, on the other hand the configuration of the exhibition space has undergone profound alterations, in terms of its physical and conceptual structure. If the previous exhibition was configured as an atlas, as a kind of geography, cartography, structured across various nuclei with a narrative logic, this exhibition functions as an archipelago, consisting of several neighbouring islands, sometimes completely autonomous, gathered around a broad idea of darkness.

Thinking about artistic creation or history of art from a negative viewpoint, not from the perspective of light but from that of darkness, not from daytime – history – but from night-time – that which has been left outside the historical narrative or which emerges therein as an exception. Here, we address one of the lines of investigation that was launched by the exhibition, Beyond History, but this time in greater depth and in a questioning manner: what does it mean to bring objects from darkness to light, from invisibility to visibility, from the world of shadows to that of the body?

Darkness, night, blindness, blackness constitutes a theme that has always been present in the history of art or literature. We only need to think about Goya’s black paintings, Malevich’s Black Square on a black background, Teixeira de Pascoaes’ Verbo Escuro, or Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, amongst many other examples. With Lessons of Darkness we will explore the metaphor of darkness from various perspectives, that can be so fruitful for the exercise of artistic production in the reflection about the world:

– From an archaeological perspective (digging, in-depth exploration, stratum by stratum, layer by layer, revealing, giving birth to objects, vestiges, items from another epoch that had disappeared from the physical field of view or even from the archives of memory);

– From the point of view of religion or the relationship with the transcendent, with that which lies beyond the material limits of physical bodies (we show, we relate objects from different cultures and historical periods that have a strong symbolical meaning, whose vocation is, to a certain extent, to supersede form, in favour of energy – whose effect is to transport and transmit, beyond the field of aesthetics in its own right);

– From the perspective of the artistic space itself, the mechanisms of building a world view from the opening of the spectator’s perception or predisposition to access this space, that is simultaneously abstract and concrete (materializing the void, endowing form to that which is non-figurable, showing darkness itself, revealing shadow, the opposite of vision, expanding the limits of our perception of visible and invisible things – i.e. placing objects in a given space in order to signify, invest, activate this space).

The history of art is much more than the history of vision, it is also a history of ghosts, of oblivion, the narrative of the night of the ages, shapes and bodies that appear, disappear and reappear, without any date or time, reactivated by the powerful song of the muses of memory, this timeless capacity which unites men to gods.