Three original interpretations of the Art of Light, in the outdoor and indoor spaces of the magnificent Palácio Belmonte, in Lisbon.
The Light of Lisbon was crucial for the decision of renewing the building of the ancient Belmonte Palace in Lisbon, in Castelo [at the Castle], bringing new uses: art, science, knowledge. Maria and Frédéric Coustols transformed the space in a cultural landmark and a meeting point for innovation and sustainability.
For the 15 years of the opening of the Palace, Light is offered again the leading figure, through the presentation of artistic visions for which Light is more than just a theme: for Alessandro Lupi, Jana Matejkova-Middleton & Rory Middleton and Stefan Kornacki, Light is matter, language, a mistery and above all a challenge demanding a careful take on the historical, cultural and philosophical dimensions.
LIGHTCRAFT is developed in the framework of the International Year of Light. It is curated by Frédéric Coustols and Mário Caeiro.
Mário Caeiro is the author of Arte na Cidade – História Contemporânea (Círculo de Leitores, 2014) [Art in the City – Contemporary History], a lecturer and researcher at ESAD.cr – Caldas da Rainha, and known for the production since 2001 of public art works and events.
Stefan Kornacki is a new reference in Polish art. This is his third presentation in Portugal. After his participation in LUMINA Festival, in Cascais, ‘Things to Come’, the newest renditon of his groundbreaking ‘Inscription Project’ (already presented in other European cities) is the largest and most spectacular installation by the artist, who will perform in the ruins of Pátio de D. Fradique an operatic appropriation of the sci-fi Classic movie by William Cameron Menzies (1936).
In the following months and through previous appointment, the public may visit the permanent works of Alessandro Lupi and Jana Matejkova-Middleton & Rory Middleton. It is an exceptional opportunity, for it is particularly striking the delicate contrast between the beautiful and serene environment and these irreverent Contemporary objects.
Beyond the artistic interventions, the programme includes a performance by Stefan Kornacki and guests, the launching of the book Corisco e Resplendor – Notes on a flash production: Óbidos-Luz (Palavrão – Associação Cultural) coordinated by Mário Caeiro and Philip Cabau, part of an interdisciplinary conference about urban heritage project making.
Other moments, besides the guided tours, are the presentation of the film Things to Come, by William Cameron Menzies, a science-fiction masterpiece, commented from the perspectives of Science, History and Typography; the visit to the whole set of the works by Jana Matejkova-Middleton & Rory Middleton in the Palace (accompagnied by the artists); and the world première of the film ‘A Casa das Duas Portas’, by Abel Pinheiro, which will be commented by sculptor André Banha.
“Things to Come (Inscription project)”
The ruins at Pátio de D. Fradique become a post-apocalyptic scenery, though still demanding the act of reading. What conclusions might we draw from the experience of reading urban space as the relic from another Civilization? VICTORIA, KOSMOS, UNIWERSAM… What do these words tell us about the past and about the future? And about the present? For it is clear they appear to want to be characters of the world-text which is history, memory, discourse.
The presentation of a new operatic version of Stefan Kornacki’s Inscription Project consists in the staged setup of a series of formerly luminous letterings which years ago were urban signs, topping buildings in the People’s Republic of Poland. The irony is that, since these old symbols of innovation and progress were outdone by time (technological evolution in lighting design, the fall of hegemonic ideology), they reappear now in the urban scape as absurd utterations. In the strange situation created by the artist, there is a profound fascination with the complexity of the phenomenon of urban communication. These ‘signs’ come from past. But we can look at them also as signs of the future, ruins, of all and any civilizations. Things to come.
About the Work
The main idea of the project is to act in public space using recovered inscriptions and neon signs. Since 2009, installations, events and happenings based on and using the original designs appear in different contexts, relocating stories of the places they come from. Keeping their character as communication devices, these typographic signs embody a semantic field which becomes disturbed and expanded, promoting new possibilities of meaning. The original functionality of the messages is completely surpassed.
In the ruins of Pátio de D. Fradique, the words ‘VICTORIA’, ‘ELANA’, ‘KOSMOS’, ‘APATOR’ and ‘UNIWERSAM’ appear. Each evokes a complex memory. VICTORIA, the most international hotel in Warsaw, was once the first luxury hotel in Poland, having been immortalized in a number of movies… The word UNIWERSAM, once the symbol of an economic boom in Poland, was not so many years ago proudly on the top of the most important department store in Toruń… ELANA, in the same city, has been the largest of local factories, producing chemical fibres – thousands of workers had to cope with its recente demolition. APATOR is still active, supporting motorized sports. KOSMOS, also in Toruń (birthplace of Copernicus), descended from the skies in 2009 (from the top of the eponymous hotel), to star at the first edition of the Light Festival Skyway…
About the Artist
Stefan Kornacki (b. 1983) is a versatile Polish artist working in various fields, from graphic design, installation, video, theatrical activities, to performance and poetry, in the framework of diverse collaborations. Having played, among others, with the jazzman Tomasz Stanko, he is the singer of the band SER CHARLES. This is the third time Kornacki shows in Portugal, after having participated in OBJET TROUVÉ (collective exhibition at Plataforma Revólver, 2012), the artistic train COSMIC UNDERGROUND (2013) and LUMINA Festival (2015). He has also realized a non-authorized performance in front of the Portuguese Parliament, named “Crise” (2013). The Inscription Project consists in a series of activities in urban space, using signs formerly attached to buildings in a performatic way.
“Antiego Mirror” – at Palácio Belmonte [Visits through previous appointment]
“Antiego Mirror” – 82x62x12cm, mixed media, 2013
In the intimacy of the Palace, the work Antiego Mirror is like an alchemy – an instrument for us to acknowledge that the ego can be a lie or a prison.
“Antiego Mirror” is a mirror. A mirror which at first sight looks normal, but which reflects light in a way which won’t allow the spectator to see his/her own face reflected back (although his/her image companions remain perfectly recognizable). The piece allows for a moment of reflection and at the same time of estrangement. It offers an unexpected experience, in contrast with the ‘ordinary’ world of everyday perception. Forcing the spectator to reposition him/herself, irony opens a dimension of fragility.
About the Artist
The installations by Alessandro Lupi (b. 1975) challenge the spectator concerning the limits between active participation and passive contemplation. Insight, light and space are the fundamental elements of his art, which is an extraordinary investigation about perception. Lupi shows for the third time in Portugal, after works realized in Óbidos (ÓBIDOS LUZ, 2014), Lisbon (VICENTE, 2015) and Cascais (LUMINA, 2015).
Jana Matejkova-Middleton + Rory Middleton
“Cut by Light” – A site-specific intervention comprising permanent and ephemeral art works for Palácio Belmonte
at Palácio Belmonte – Music Room, Maria Ursula Ballroom, East Terrace and Front Patio – Visits by previous appointment.
D E C E M B E R
“Her Silent Sonata” (2015)
Neon Thread on Canvas, Black MDF – 120x90cm
“His Silent Dance” (2015)
Neon Thread on Canvas, Walnut, Black MDF, UV led lighting – 80x50x50cm
The two artworks at the Music Room are an act of love. The two artists establish between themselves, the space and the cultural vision which fuels the Palace, an extremely sensitive dialogue which pays attention to lowermost and intimate traces of the place. The Music Room, surrounded by XVII century tiles, is inhabited by the play of art, poetically evoking ancient social practices and alluding to a new and contemporary dimension of aesthetic experience.
“Her Silent Sonata” is a neon thread embroidery piece inspired by marks on Belmonte’s facade. The illuminated drawing directly depicts the drips on the northern side of the tower, dating back to the time of the Romans. The piece opens up a dialogical space between architectural features of the Palace and the decorative elements characteristic of the Belmonte interiors, eluding to the tradition of embroidery that took place over the centuries within these walls. The contemporary materials and black light illumination are in direct contrast with the aesthetic of the Music Room, yet rather than competing, they aid to complement the spirit of the setting, quietly transforming the space and suggesting the atmospheric qualities of an ‘electric’ disco environment.
In partnership with “Her Silent Sonata” stands a bespoke furniture piece made by Rory Middleton. “His Silent Dance” is an elegant coffee table to which a built-in UV lamp was added. The piece carries an embroidered detail of one of the azulejos (traditional Portuguese tiles) in the room representing music players in the fields. The viewer is invited into a little play trying to find the tile in this silent puzzle.
J A N U A R Y
Maria Ursula Ballroom, East Terrace and Front Patio
“Night Rider” (2016)
“Outside over there” (2016)
“Night Rider” is a monumental black and white triangular form, reminiscent of a boat’s sail seen emerging from the crisp white background of Palacio Belmonte wall and silhouetted against the Lisbon Sky. The sculpture has its own life. Shape and appearing patterns will constantly change, depending on direction and intensity of the wind. Made out of 10 000 Black and white Tyvek stripes attached to a fish net, the sculpture celebrates black and white, the colors of Lisbon and of all the pirates of the earth.
Maria Ursula Ballroom
“Outside over there” is a Relief made from neon yellow and green Acrylic forms, positioned against a mirrored background which plays with perspective and perception. Inspired by the silhouettes of stalagmites, the two dimensional shapes alter in relation to the viewers movement. At the same time the mirrored background reveals a reflection of the viewer, who appears and disappears as part of the sculpture. “Outside over there” invites the viewer to open the door of imagination and enter the secret and mysterious worlds out there hiding behind our “ordinary” yet extraordinary lives.
The wings of a dragonfly are delicately hung in the courtyard capturing a moment in time. The inspiration for the work came from observation of the visual and sculptural quality of the skeletal form of a dragonfly’s wings. The translation of dragonfly into the Czech language is “vážka”, a word sharing common roots with expressions such as ‘to weigh’, ‘to regard’, ‘to think’. These words were significant during the creation of this artwork and reflect the philosophical approach behind its making. Dragonflies are symbols of courage, strength, and happiness and they often appear in art and literature. The piece is built on balance and strength. The wings are simply connected at two points allowing it to gently tremble in the space, letting the viewer appreciate nature’s magic.
About the Artists
Jana Matejkova-Middleton (b. 1979), Czech, lives in Scotland and the Czech Republic. She is fascinated by light and its language. By means of site-specific installations, frequently interactive, she articulates different media as photography, sound, video, dance and other new technologies, which help her to build up and explore relationships which certain places suggest. Public spaces in urban settings, landscape and nature are key-words in her work. She uses light not only for its ability to shape an atmosphere and change the environment, but also as a motion accentuating shapes whether it is reflected, radiating, stroboscopic or fluorescent. Her large installations are often commissioned for well-established Light Art festivals around Europe. Some of her smaller pieces and drawings are represented in public and private collections in Czech Republic, Portugal and Germany.
Rory Middleton (b. 1977) lives and works in Edinburgh, Scotland. In his work, he builds environments and design projects to host live music and performances, underlining the relations between the architecture, the landscape and people. He creates art works which seduce Human senses through the interpretation of natural and modified atmospheres, combining lo-fi and hi-fi methods used in cinema. In this context, he develops site-specific works which lead places to acquire a different voice, one which might be heard by all but understood at various levels.
Organization: Belmonte Cultural Club
Direction: Frédéric Coustols e Maria Mendonça
Concept and authorship of texts: Mário Caeiro
Curators: Frédéric Coustols and Mário Caeiro
Assistant curator and photography: Agata Wiorko
Partners: DaST, WOA-Way of Arts, Festival LUMINA, PALAVRÃO Associação Cultural, IPL / ESAD.cr – LIDA, Embaixadas de Itália, Embaixada da Polónia e Embaixada da República Checa
Location: The Belmonte Cultural Club, at
Address: Pateo Dom Fradique, 14 – 1100-624 Lisboa
Contacts: +351 218816600
Artists: Stefan Kornacki, Alessandro Lupi,
Jana Matejkova-Middleton + Rory Middleton