Lunch Inside the Horse’s Belly

As with any other subject of cosmic nature, the History of Sculpture also contains within itself narratives, myths and fantastic legends about its past. From David’s knees bending slightly over yielding to the weight of his torso, to seagulls not resting on the statuary with serpents carved around them, the stories told around this universe of creation are countless, always suggesting some mystical revelation or hidden rituals about details left blank in the past. One of these little secrets tells us that during the construction of equestrian statues, sculptors would recurrently share a meal in the hollow interior of the horse’s belly.

For his second show at the gallery, Bruno Cidra (Lisbon, 1982) builds a large-scale sculptural installation in the exhibition space – which is, like the horse’s belly, a magical, secret space, though apparently hollow. From the vaporous and translucent building, we observe only the edges that support it or survive from it – lines of a great drawing in iron and paper that fly like a climbing plant and attract to them what does not seem to move on the surrounding walls. From their metal props, delicate white staircases bloom and ondulating roots creep, expanding sinuously across the ground as if crawling on it. Their silhouettes dance slowly and, although static, we can sense their contorting and become sensitive to the simulation of their movements. We are thus surrounded only by channels, the architecture of a structure that reminds us of the sculptural sprues typically destroyed after the construction of a body of bronze, which here subsists and surpasses it. A skeleton becomes a body, and a great building hovers on the premise of transformation – not, however, due to the size of the space it occupies, but because of the space that ceaselessly multiplies beyond its elevation.

One could call it a shelter, but in fact we are talking about a formally more complex device. Its almost-like transparency allows its momentary invisibility, despite its scale. Through it, and from its interior, we are urged to pay attention to the events in the surrounding space, which very silently pierce the substance and shape of its boundless peripheries, forging our perception as one forges the swirling iron – wrapped in what we later realise are sheets of paper. Briefly, we could be in the presence of a sculpture with no place in time, a mysterious presence full of symbols and internal myths – if, on the one hand, the precariousness and the strength of a receptive structure for the casting of another bigger one to come survives, in the same way the fragility and lightness of the spoil of something in moments past is summoned. It thus finds in itself a state of ruin – an ethereal and enigmatic one – trapped in a timeless limbo of its own pendular existence. The protection the structure initially appeared to grant to the surrounding objects is simultaneously revealed as their poetic liberation, which both meet with it and seem to be absent from it.

In lovely blue blooms the steeple with its metal
roof. Around the roof swirls the swallows’ cry,
surrounded by most touching blue. The sun rises high
above and tints the roof tin. But in the wind beyond, silently,
a weathercock crows.

Five blue and greenish sculptural figures travel encrypted along the walls surrounding the main structure. Apparent bronze symbols – which sometimes suggest wandering serpents and animal tails, sometimes gestures of a dragging brushstroke of matter – are in fact sculptures modelled on paper, patinated through the indecipherable potion of some alchemy of transformation. They permeate the gaze as if magnetizing it, sneakily drawing the body into the circumscribed space of the iron architecture and slowly leading us towards its confrontation. If on the one hand they appear to be fragmentary remains of something that has collapsed, or organic inhabitants of that moment, on the other they suggest plants or allegorical models of another possible construction, similar to the one observing them from the central scene. They are sculptures within a sculpture, the multiple gestation of a map of shadow and light and the symbolic parabola of that which will always be an exercise of memory.

It is precisely in the relationship between the two bodies of work that the artist echoes the experience of the sculpture that incorporates space, the sculpture that clears the way for a place where presences come together in their joint belonging, not so that they may only be present, but so that they may truly exist. In this sense, the sculptor proceeds to create an environment that goes beyond its arbitrary becoming, that reaches the limit of not holding in itself any space or place. By not being nothingness, it frees way for emptiness, for the void, for the airway [2] that both opens and closes, that both expresses impermanence and its inverse, and thus ultimately makes it possible for truth never to be materialised, allowing its metaphysical quality to wander and float freely and solemnly like the distant sound of a ringing bell [3].


Eva Mendes


[1] Hölderlin, Friedrich. Lines from In Lovely Blue, in Hymns and Fragments, Pricenton University Press, 2016.
[2] According to Martin Heidegger’s reflection on the essay Building, Dwelling, Thinking (in Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper Collins, 2001.)
[3] Goethe, Wolfgang. in Maxisms and Reflections. Translated by Bailey Saunders, 1982.