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“Gris, Vide, Cris”: Giacometti/Chafes at Gulbenkian, Lisbon

A brilliant exhibition at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, a welcome compensation for visitors disappointed by the continuing closure of the Centro de Arte Moderna.

Sculptures by Albert Giacometti (1901-1966) and Rui Chafes (1966- ) encounter each other, entering into an intensely chilling dialogue. Alberto Giacometti is well-known for his gaunt, elongated figures, embodying the existentialist notion of the impossibility to bridge the distance between individuals, to reach each other. This exhibition allows a renewed look on these works. In the first part of the exhibition, the visitor enters a dark cabinet (constructed by Rui Chafes), feeling his/her away into complete darkness, leaving behind the sense of spatial dimension. At the end of the corridor, two minuscule sculptures by Giacometti become visible through narrow round or elongated openings, which do not allow to see the figurines using both eyes at the same time. This arrangement amplifies the “non-approachability” of Giacometti´s sculptures, like in a nightmare they can neither be reached nor defined in detail.

In the second room, a quirky Giacometti plaster sculpture (“The nose”) is complemented by a Chafes construction of a giant metal mask, extending the nose into a pointy sting, which adds a menacing, almost violent aspect to it.

In the remaining rooms, Giacometti´s figures are confronted with Chafes´metal sculptures, hanging from the ceiling or propped on pedestals, resembling empty husks of giant insect larvae, or empty casting molds of bodies. Together they create a nightmarish ambience of distance and hopelessness, like the relics of a long lost civilisation.

Photos 2-4 by Pedro Pina on https://gulbenkian.pt/.

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