Where is João Pombeiro looking for freedom?

A review by Marta Jecu*.

In the dialogue with Tiny Domingos, João Pombeiro talks about wanting to make a connection between the history of Berlin and this exhibition. Berlin wall, the most handy to come symbol, disappears at first from the mind, while entering his exhibition at Rosalux. But "freedom is a state of mind" and is also gesture. A palimpsest of different signs, acts and citations – the wall unfolds a compact space of conceptual expression. Joao Pombeiro reloads this attitude of mind and develops uninhibited his posture in a widened art-theoretical reference context.

Taking a look on
João Pombeiro's website, we can see a bunch of very different directions, strategies, problematizations, which extract elements from disparate fields of experience, substance and style, express artistic traditions, but don't follow down their implications. Somehow confusing, these elements seem not coordinated in a stable conceptual frame. But I would say, that this is not a less mature and less rigorously internalised conceptual process, but rather a different approach: Joao Pombeiro seems the one who searches for very disparate sources of information, images and builds fragments in a personal palimpsests, which is by its nature provisory, temporary and fluid. This attitude doesn't look for the abode of a doctrine, in which to grow, and isn't concerned with speculating on a theoretical norm. It rather proceeds accumulatively, receptively and sensitive to hints, reacting too situations, spontaneously and rather candid – in an "everyday" rhythm. Even if the process is not so analytical to be self-critical, his approach brings in distortions, unexpected turnings of established frames, destabilisation. These deviations open territories, where a long awaited freshness, free expression, lack of self restricting consciousness unfold a deep conceptual substance. Vivid, spontaneous and receptive – this attitude turns out to be very effective, to develop an active potential on a smaller or bigger scale.

Joao Pombeiro's work made for the gallery Rosalux in Berlin, if seen having in mind his other works, gains a dimension which it would otherwise lose. Seeing this unitary constructed space in the gallery, minimal but condensed, and isolating it from the context of his other works, we could be tempted to associate this work to structuralist frames of interpretation, to the preoccupation for text as architectural image. In this light his images and texts could be seen as rigorously constructing on each other, in order to built a stable edifice of meaning. From a different perspective we could see his work also as a graphic game, where text is loosing its significance to become a compact surface, invested with calligraphic qualities. His text-image also could function like a sign, signifying a coded, underlying context.

But as previously stated, I think these theoretical frameworks do not fuse with this work and bring no additional relevance for it.

Joao Pombeiro rather gives a glance to all these fields of "exercise" and turns the game to his will. These references are used to fortify his game but are finally completely ignored, for the artist seeks to follow his personal sense of free, vagabond expression. Stating a truism, making a riddle or a joke, Joao Pombeiro is going round and round in circle, visually and conceptually, till the circle he constructs, is undermined by its own means.
"Every art definition follows a circular logic" - overlapped analysis: a general statement, a particular work, a graphic form collide and the closed circular affirmation, with its inclusive borders, the stated rules by which the work functions, the pre-determined statement, suddenly open up. Text and image deconstruct on each other, make way for free spaces of expression. "I went to the big opening at the gallery, but everyone was there just to be seen, so I left and went to the movies" His statements are questioning their own content. An affirmation is set in circular motion, evidence is repeated, until a distance from the object slips in and the initial meaning is turned upside down. Unexpected, evident absurdness fragments what it cites, till a new conceptual continuity emerges.

The visual text is associated with sonority in the spoken riddles. So, Joao Pombeiro is adding another device for freeing up the immobile canonical statement. Verbalizing, in a continuous tongue-cracking litany, destabilises the well-guarded structure of written words, sonority brings mobility in space. Continuous, tricky shifting, humour and negation impose an affirmative space of discourse.

Marta Jecu

Berlin, 2007


Looking for Freedom

'Looking for Freedom'
João Pombeiro interviewed by Tiny Domingos

Why and how did you choose this title for your show at rosalux.com?

For my first solo show in Berlin, i wanted a title that would have some connection with the city and it´s history. I made some research about the Berlin wall, and i read about David Hasselhof’s song “Looking for Freedom” and the role that he claims the song had in the fall of the wall.

Are you looking for freedom? How?
I believe freedom is just a state of mind and it only last for a fews moments. In that way, everyone is always looking for freedom in it’s many forms. In my case i trying to find freedom in fame and fortune.

May I ask you what do you have to offer (as an artist)?
I guess the only things i have to offer as an artist are sarcasm, irony, laughter, and one or two interesting ideas about life in general.

Who and where is your public?
That´s funny... everyday i ask myself the same question.

Are you happy with it?
The only thing that matters to me is if they are happy with me.

Do contemporary artists have to be elitist?
Not really, i think it works the other way around. Contemporany elitists have to be artists. Or maybe, elitist artists have to be contemporany.

Would you like to have more public?
Acttually, I would like to fill Wembley Stadium with my public. Is that aiming too high?

Do you want to change the world with your art?
Not really. Like any other artist I’m just trying to reach a state of immortality through my work.

Is poetics essential for an artist?
Not only for artists but also for every human being

Where is your poetics?
My poetics is always side-by-side with my humor.

Is art a bore?
Sometimes it is. Art shouldn´t be as serious as some people make it.

Is your art also a bore?
Of course not. Mine is the good kind of art.

What do you think about the art system?
It´s just a system like any other systems. It has some qualitys and it has some defects.

What do you think about the artist’s role?
I think the artist’s main role is to reflect social and individual realities, and hoppefully to change them at some level.

What thinks the art system about you?
It wonders if I am profitable or not. Maybe it just wonders who am I?

What do you want to deconstruct?
I would like to desconstruct the art system from the inside. But i’ve heard that someone already did it.

Can you change the art system from the inside?
That’s the only way to do it.

What do you want to build?
A home, a family and a solid art career.

Does religiousity plays a role in your work?
It doesn´t. And I hope i don´t go to hell for that.

Does Portugal or your nationality plays a role in your work?
I don´t think so, because i consider myself a very global individual. But maybe that´s just my portuguese way of thinking...


International Intrigue

Tal como vários artistas contemporâneos, João Pombeiro recorre a clássicos do cinema neste caso Hitchcock) para os dos seus trabalhos de vídeo. A sua intervenção mínima e discreta condiz com uma era em que o consumidor cultural pretende reinterpretar, intervir e misturar as cartas que lhe são dadas. Poder-se-ia quase falar de vingança do consumidor. Em "International Intrigue", os vários níveis de interpretação têm correspondência directa com os vários idiomas geralmente disponíveis nas edições em DVD. Fica no ar a questão da estandardização da cultura e dos gostos mas também das fronteiras invisíveis que cada língua corporiza, da sua hermeticidade, da sua particularidade inalienável e do mistério da sua musicalidade.

João Pombeiro trabalha em vários media (pintura, instalação, vídeo,design). Em todos eles, a sua postura é desenvolta e a sua ironia de uma refrescante simplicidade.

Like several contemporary artists, João Pombeiro uses classic movies (in this case Hitchcock) in his video works, His discreet and minimal interventions matches an era where the cultural consumer intends to reinterpret, to intervene and to shuffle all the given cards. We can almost talk about a consumer's revenge. In 'International Intrigue', the multiple levels of interpretation have a direct correspondence with the several languages available in a movie's dvd. In the air remains the question of the standardization of the culture and it's tastes, but also of the invisible borders that each an every language embodies in it's hermeticy, in it's inalienable particularity and in the mystery of it's musicality.

João Pombeiro works with several media (painting, installation, graphic design and video). In all of these media, he has a nimble posture and his irony has a refreshing simplicity.

Comissário / Curator: Tiny Domingos.

Inauguração/ Opening:
19 de Abril, às 21 Horas / April 19th, at 21h00

Contactos/ Contacts:
Rosalux Gallery
Strelitzer Str. 72
10115 Berlin-Mitte

Tel: +49 173 612 8827
Fax: + 49 (0) 30 48 49 22 31

Email: contact@rosalux.com
Website: www.rosalux.com


25 Frames per Second

No sentido de apresentar publicamente o núcleo de vídeo da sua colecção, a Fundação PLMJ promove, em parceria com o Pelouro da Cultura da Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, a mostra "25 frames por segundo: Vídeos da Colecção da Fundação PLMJ", comissariada por Miguel Amado. Modelado à semelhança de um ciclo de cinema, este projecto apresenta 40 trabalhos de igual número de artistas – 31 dos quais projectados na Sala 3 e os restantes em exibição permanente no foyer do Cinema São Jorge – que traçam uma panorâmica da produção videográfica contemporânea. Acompanha este evento um catálogo com reproduções das obras expostas e ensaio, fichas analíticas e biografias elaborados elaborados pelo comissário.

Obras de Adriana Molder, António Olaio, Carlos Bunga, Catarina Campino, Cristina Mateus, Filipa César, Francisco Queirós, Helena Almeida, Isabel Ribeiro, Joana Vasconcelos, João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, João Onofre, João Pombeiro, João Tabarra, Jorge Molder, Jorge Santos, José Carlos Teixeira, José Maçãs de Carvalho, Julião Sarmento, Luís Alegre, Margarida Paiva, Maria Lusitano, Martinha Maia, Miguel Leal, Miguel Palma, Miguel Soares, Noé Sendas, Nuno Alexandre Ferreira, Nuno Ramalho, Pedro Barateiro, Pedro Diniz Reis, Pedro Paixão, Pedro Valdez Cardoso, Rita Sobral Campos, Ruben Verdadeiro, Rui Calçada Bastos, Rui Toscano, Susana Mendes Silva, Susanne Themlitz, e Vasco Araújo.

27 de Fevereiro entre as 18H30 e as 22H30

De 28 de Fevereiro a 4 de Março

Av. da Liberdade, nº 175
250-141 Lisboa
Tel: 213 103 402
Fax: 213 103 410
E-mail: cinemasaojorge@egeac.pt