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Skin Care. Inęs Pais

The Nude Clown III, 2010, 70x100 cm

Transboavista Arts Center is one of Lisbon´s most exiting contemporary art sites. It includes Plataforma Revolver, VPF Cream Art Gallery and Rock Gallery. Four floors filled with art - you arrive breathless to Plataforma Revolver at the top floor, at the attic after going through about five other openings. Right before the top you find Inęs Pais´ exibition, at VPF Cream Art Gallery. Some of you might have come across her face, either in her production or in a venue around you. Inęs Pais´s work deals with skin. This solo exhibition, "NUDE", is about her latest achievements. It shows us 3 photographs and one installation piece. Lets grasp two images 30 years apart from each other: Woody Allen, "Interiors" (1978). "Eve" holds a very intellectual personality but also an emotionally dysfunctional one. The foundations of her character, which is central to the development of "Interiors", is based upon her job as an interior designer and on her attraction to nude colours, i.e. skin shades, used to perform a very controlled and consistent elegance. Thirty years later, in Madrid. Caixa Fórum (Herzog & De Meuron, 2008): Façade´s cladding in Corten steel. The specific qualities of this material allow it to oxidize at the surface, transforming its exterior structure in order to preserve the interior, protecting itself from the weathers aggressions. Besides, Herzog & De Meuron decided to present this material cut in squares, that resemble digital pixels pixels.

These are two moments that led us to a central dichotomy on our western culture: on one hand the digital representation of our organic existence and hand that real organic existence on the other. Inęs Pais´work is based on the tension upon these two realities. This new solo exhibition, presented one year after her latest solo exhibition "Religio", (Sala do Veado, 2009, Lisbon), shows us the evolution of a very specific research. "NUDE" is the development of "Religio" in many ways. We are confronted with two series, "Pixels" and "The Nude Clown". "Pixels" is a suspended piece of cloth, made out of several fabrics that represent pixels. These pixels where isolated by zooming on a digital picture of the artists' skin. They follow cosmetics industry's practice of communicating certain qualities of a product, like colour, shine, refinement, fabrics. "The Nude Clown" is a series of three photographs that show us a female figure. In a subtle way this figure reminds us of a clown. Power relations, related to the symbolism of the clown by art history, are therefore associated to these works. Facing her pale face, her strong opinions, under the pixel-filtered light at Madrid's Caixa Forum's Cafeteria, it isn't hard to notice that Inęs Pais talks clearly about "NUDE" because she is quite the opposite.

In her past works, Pais was interested in skin as part of the artistic production as possible universal and, go ecumenical phenomena, if we try to structure the complexity and the extension that this research implies. "NUDE" is a reference to the eighties and the nineties, revisited cyclically by Life Style Gurus. Inęs Pais added it to her research, following a path that includes several attempts to picture how the world is represented on human skin. "Religio" (Sala do Veado, 2009) presented several elements of skin-painting, dealing with both ancient traditional body-painting and contemporary urban body-painting (make-up, tattooing). "Religio" also reflected upon how skin is a complex medium that elaborates our exchanges with the ouside world. Since the beginning of her career as an artist, Inęs Pais worked with the idea of a package, of a format, of a skin, that would allow men and woman to preserve an autonomy towards the exterior, both individually and socially. Pais´ work questions many different things, from the fashion industry, to occidental medicine, to anthroposophy, suggesting a new (skin-) approach to face individual and group issues related to identity.

Text by Paula Januário


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