Carlos Correia - Pintura
Imagens despidas de tempo
I first came across Carlos Correia's paintings about four years ago, as a member of the jury at a young creators competition. I was surprised at the complexity of the images: a series of self-portraits in which the artist presented his work using white t-shirts bearing modern works or faces of classic painters.
Simultaneously, he questioned the meaningfulness of certain indisputable values of Western culture, here reduced to simple mass reproductions, and the role of painting in the now global context of images. Finally, he imposed the lone figure of the artist stating an assertive and determined presence.
In fact, to place oneself within the rich, hyper-saturated tradition of painting reflects nowadays, to a certain extent, a daring, although in most cases it may be simply the result of a notorious naivety. This is, in as far as it configures a lack of knowledge concerning the real issues presented to contemporarity by the cumulus of settled practices. Or, for the cynical, it represents taking advantage of the strength held by the aura of the 'painted' object within the late capitalistic system that defines us.
Thus, from the formal point of view, very little surprises us. The environment incorporates all revisions, inflections, restarts, appropriations and the likes, like a voracious Saturn eating his offspring. One should at least stress the creative tension that this sort of conscience can bring to certain practices. It is in this realm of preoccupations that it seems right to me to situate Carlos Correia's painting, even though one can also observe in it a vigorous and idiosyncratic ability to manage the formal problems that present themselves. Unlike Álvaro Lapa, one of the great painters of our time, who built a personal world from the pictorial practice in a territory in which conventions were deliberately despised, this young author sets off exactly from within the conventions. This approach is designed in order to specifically harbour his project as a critical comment before society, the art system and, very specifically, the challenges that the painted image has to face today amidst the competition. A competition derived not only from high culture (photographic images, moving images, and virtual images), but also of popular culture (for example, advertising and television).
Based on the most traditional genres of painting – portrait, landscape, conversation pieces, Carlos Correia establishes a pictorial discourse that clearly points at territories of tension between the represented and the way in which one represents.
The transit between a time of hyper-visibility of the image, perceived from the references used by the artist, and an almost pre-modern time of workshop isolation, allows for a paradoxical density in these works, one that could be called inverted Pop. In Pop Art almost everything was played in the iteration of context; here the artist takes out of context in order to isolate, fragment and obliterate the image whilst retaining a linear device of signification. The result of the images consciously selected and grouped by the artist into specific themes that correspond, as I said earlier, to conventional genres of painting, leads to a sort of temporal limbo. This is highlighted taking into account the disparity of the referents: from characters or scenes from the paintings of Manet and Degas to the lead players of the G8 meetings, from William S. Burroughs to the visitors of contemporary art museums. Everything unfolds into meanings that, in a nonlinear way, refer us to two more or less obvious gravitational hermeneutic fields: the sphere of symbolic powers and the sphere of economic and ideological powers. Particularly interesting here is this interstitial fusion – precisely in homage to Burroughs, so it seems to me –, that implodes in the plane of the image into languid, excessively pictorial forms, as if laughing of themselves and of their destiny.
In fact, all the paintings from this artist appear to subsist in a permanent state of tension that comes from the certainty of not wanting to present them as the 'right' paintings. It is in this unsettling deviation that they gain meaning: the cut of the 'right' plane in the portrait of the writer, the spatial forlornness of the characters of the G-8 meetings, the chromatic and shape distortions of the appropriations of the paintings of Manet and Degas are examples of this. These deviations are permanently reminding us that what endures in this case, in spite of all, is the painting as a means to construct a pictorial discourse that becomes all the more complex as it is presented in a pretensely transparent way. Carlos Correia knows his works are not exhausted within the pure visual; he plays the dangerous seduction game in a mature way, guaranteeing the seduction of the spectator. However, if we manage to overcome this first impression, we are then confronted in a gratifying way with an unfolding of questions that touch in a very acute way the fundaments of any interrogative practice about the viability and the pertinence of Art today.
Miguel von Hafe Pérez