The fable, in the true sense of the word, is what deserves to be said.
For a long time, in Western society, everyday life could only have access to the discourse when crossed and transfigured by the fabulous; it had to be withdrawn out of itself by heroism, feat, adventures, providence, and grace, and eventually perversity; it had to be marked by a touch of impossibility. Only then does it become veritable
. What made her out of reach allowed her to function as a lesson and example. The more the narrative fled to the vulgar, the more power it had to fascinate or persuade. In this “fabulous-exemplar” game, indifference to the true and the false was therefore fundamental.
And if anyone were to take the initiative to say the mediocrity of the real by itself, it was only to make a comic effect: the mere fact of talking about it made one laugh.¹

Within the framework of post modernism, the concept of author and authorship is increasingly more complex. On one side, given the dimension of consumption and the diffusion of information (in images, words or multimedia systems), each of us is necessarily influenced by the context, and appropriation and contagion are inevitable. The debate about the necessity of reviewing the concept of authorship is not new, and one can cite Michel Foucault (1926-1984) and the conference of 1969, in the French Philosophers Society, What is an author², in which the sociologist debates the function of the author, born in the late XVIII century, looking to reflect on the processes that establish the critic and that refer to a man and his work. In turn, the theories of Roland Barthes (1915-1980) in The Death of the Author³, from 1968, are decisive to the appearance of the theories of reception: “languages, and discourse flow freely”, it says. In the more concrete case of contemporary artistic and cultural production, in the middle of a time of excess and unequal relations between man and nature and of generalized intolerance, it’s interesting to debate the question of author and authorship, of influence and appropriation. Alexandre Rola (b.1978) belongs to the generation of artists with a liking of (anti)aesthetic of street and cosmopolitan environment, that constructs his elasticity hijacking, literally or poetically, of the images he sees, walking as he takes in the scenery that he leaves behind as he passes, be it the posters and other communication supports that fill the cities, be it being focused on the monuments of poverty and wear that, in the fight against indifference, we can’t ignore. The process of economic growth, of more and more tourism and of progress is, in many countries, the promotor of opposites and, more is always opposed by less, or even nothing. The view of Alexandre Rola isn’t, nor could it be given his sensitivity, his interest for photography, and by looking at reality through a lens, disconnected from his (our) context. The starting point is the city, the point of arrival, the plastic and imagery construction using talent and imagination.

The usefulness of materials born out of daily waste and the appropriation of images born out of mainstream culture is a growing trend of today, that has its history in a reinterpretation of concepts of pop art, art povera and the movements of conceptual power. Discussing authorship, originality and idea is, therefore inevitable, since, not rarely, in the creations of this generation of artists, we face a kind of déjà vu. The message that Alexandre Rola conveys in his works begins then, before the action of painting. The canvases made out of cardboard and posters reveal to us a temporality, caused by accumulation and waste. The artist allows and makes use of time in the preparation of his canvases, whose gathering shows an interest for humanity and, in turn, for the search of the new by experimentation. Photography, another of the dimensions of Alexandre Rola’s artistic production, is the process by which he activates the revivalism of a moment lived unilaterally and that becomes global through its incorporation into a poster or another graphic support, reaching an intensity, rhythm and momentum that separate itself from what is shown in the photo. Maybe the photo can be sustenance for the future, and the painting the digestive of the past. Between the posters and the people painting is born and, somewhere between the painting and the artist, will be the search of man.

LOOK BACK, GO AHEAD is the individual show of Alexandre Rola, plastic artist with a vast resume along with various national and international awards, which include “Personality of the Year in Plastic Arts” (Portugal) and “International Awards in Unequal Paining” (Spain).

In this show, the largest in the artist’s history, the gallery shairart dst will set the stage for the decoupling of the artist with the traditional supports of artistic creation, with evident references to consumerism culture and waste, which results in a creative distress and an extensive production in which the artist combines a political and social dimension, mas also sensitive and referencing literature and, foremost, nature and its elements.

Those who visited the previous show held at this gallery in Braga will notice in this one proposals diametrically opposite each other, in which the idea of the work of art is placed in the dimension of the degradation of postmodern society, under the watchful eye of a remarkable artist, that transfers technical skill to its robustness and its bold materials. A spectrum of about 50 pieces that include the series Terra and Home+ and various new creations, filled with mottos, intentions and wanderings through the urban space, which showcase the experimental artist, distressed and watchful observer of his time and surroundings.

There is, in his art, an innate capability for a timelessness and it resides within the observer’s sphere a character of stagnation and continuity simultaneously, where each of us can see something of himself in this that is external to us. What Alexandre Rola proposes isn’t fables or stories, it’s a confrontation with the real rawness of every day. Pablo Picasso said: “No, la pintura no está hecha para decorar las habitaciones. Es un instrumento de guerra ofensivo y defensivo contra el enemigo.” Alexandre Rola fights, is in the front of battle and it’s up to the observer to join his causes or not.

Helena Mendes Pereira and Alberto Rodrigues Marques

shairart curating team

¹ FOUCAULT, Michel – O que é um autor? Lisboa: Editora Nova Vega, 2015 (9th edition). Pages 124 to 125.

² FOUCAULT, Michel – O que é um autor? Lisboa: Editora Nova Vega, 2015 (9th edition).

³ Published at BARTHES, Roland – O Rumor da Língua. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2004.