AndrÉ Cepeda  

Sob um sol recto, Jun 7 – Jul 27, 2013

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Abstract Lines

If there is something that is particularly attractive in André Cepeda’s photographs it is his way of moderating the image, like someone tuning a piano. His plot is minimal; his prolonged gaze is tense. His way of calling up the spatial issue generates non-specific spaces, because this is not a question of capturing the image but of letting it be constructed from a slowness, from a minute detail. André Cepeda reflects upon how we look at things, upon how we see and how we do not see. When he tackles a structure the imprecise stands as a border in relation to what is outside the visual range of the photograph. It is a question of seeing and stopping seeing. Of waiting for the light once one has found the shot to take, which is never a product of intuition, but rather a matter of specifics. After this it is a fact that the image appears, almost by chance. This is how a simple gesture unleashes reflection. It is a question of apprehending the images in order to grant them with a meaning that is never literal, and which, in this new series taken in the city of Sao Paulo, is more pictorial and more abstract.

As is usual in his work, the emotional and conceptual elements are the starting points for the works. This is what gives rise to the unique and personal, as well as deliberately ambiguous, nature of his photographs. In this case his experience of walking around and moving about in the city of Sao Paulo, observing its flow, its light, its different details, results in a process that has a great deal of serendipity, calling upon everyday details in a natural manner in order to then delve into the motifs which most concern him, almost as a necessity. It is as if his photography explored the relationship between reality and its negative space, between that which we may imagine to be lost and that which ends up being found.

The daily reality of a city like Sao Paulo oozes mystery; whether this is a street corner that turns into a sort of monochrome kaleidoscope, multiplying its own reality, or façades that unfold like pictorial textures. Yet an attentive gaze will note a series of changes in relation to his previous series, as a product of reflecting upon a closer reality: the Portuguese city of Oporto. The scale of the city, its relationship with nature, the vibrant colour capable of generating climates of blues, oranges and yellows which open up out of pureness, softens the tone of his pictures, that become even more pure, with a minimal clarity, taking on a tactile quality. More than ever, Cepeda abstracts key issues from the visible. It is not so much the motif that matters, but what the photographs transmit to us, far beyond their encrypted, unfinished sense.

André Cepeda’s images never seem to be finished because they are the product of a curious gaze, those gazes that flee from defined horizons. They thus seem to be patient and born out of an encounter emerging from a deep observation capable of revealing almost unnoticeable aspects of our reality to us. Perhaps this is why he grants so much importance to light, which in these latest works takes on a greater prominence, going from chromatic saturation to pictorial reincarnation. Like in painting, colour generates perceptive fissures, and we spectators open our eyes to that disorder without, as Samuel Beckett pointed out, the need to understand, simply letting that truth enter. The truth is that there are ever-present obsessions in André Cepeda’s work, such as his games of lines and a presence of the sculptural element, but also that pictorial softness, in which energy is condensed and everything is revealed, that which makes the outlines and framings flirt with the fleeting element, as well as the purity of the line of Brazilian modernist architecture, lead him to terrains that were previously unknown in his work.

Just as in previous series when he did portraits and his characters seemed to be lost or disorientated, and abandoned, he now brings those empty gazes into a sort of abyss that stands as an impenetrable surface, as a paradoxically full empty horizon. In this sense the title of this exhibition, “Under a Straight Sky”, is paradigmatic. Because André Cepeda’s photographs, although they emerge out of emotion and experience, very rarely allow any encounter, as if their own image had disappeared, or had become distant. Everything ends up being a sort of abyss of the gaze, a horizontal abyss, close to that descent into the Maelström narrated by Edgar Allan Poe: “At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The general burst of terrific grandeur was all that I beheld.” Yet that immenseness becomes, within a few degrees of intimacy present in all of Cepeda’s work, able to temper the image in order to concentrate on its own atmosphere, as if the images had no end or beginning, and silence prevented the passing of time in the image.

David Barro