The exhibition derives from a slow, incisive, continuous and cumulative movement of actions that organize the artworks and their elements in the space, in a big drawing. It is a fusion, an intentionally harmonized interaction that the artist promotes between his own gestures and the big white sheet, presenting us the most important concept of the show: “passar pelas mãos”. “Passar pelas mãos” (“to have something in between hands”) is an old Portuguese idiomatic expression for the idea of being occupied with something; not in a mechanical sense of taking something out from the world to save it for yourself, but more related to the idea of taking care of something, to be the curator of something, to be aware of it, to spend time and attention with it. But having something in your hands is also a good chance to know it better; it is a chance to touch and to feel it in detail, is a chance to see the whole thing and the new thing, its shape, its colors, its temperatures, its transformation. To have something in between hands is to understand what can not be grasped at all.

Bruno Cidra’s exhibition (Lisbon, 1982) introduces us to this movement. All of the gestures of the drawing reveal something more than their final appearance. Any work, any fragment of the exhibition has passed through not only the artist’s hands, but also through others’ during the manufacturing process. The first drawing is made in iron by Cidra, and then it is passed to bronze by other hands. At the end, it returns to the artist’s hands to have place in the final drawing composition. The structures in iron and copper – once in between someone else’s hands – are taken by the artist to be filled with paper, and to be transformed in a spot or in an expanded dash, and also to be a part in this slow final gesture of the drawing in the space, on the floor, on the walls of the gallery. At the end, and in a certain way, it is all left in between the viewer’s hands, in the hands of those “curators” who also see and transform things in their own ways.

And even more because this is not just a drawing, but also an architectural modification, an inhabited space which is redesigned by the two and three-dimensional shapes – some of them are both two and three-dimensional. Those shapes act together with the space to place the viewer in front of the origin and the primitiveness of the gestures, and closest to the movement of the construction of the drawing, as if it could give them some clue to follow by a certain internal order. The materiality and the scale invite the participation of the body that observes. There is the white paper that merges into the wall and values the outline and the shape of green-bronze dashes. There are the very small pieces that draw us closer and appeal to the touch, and the largest and more aggressive ones that push us away, offering a new and more panoramic view of the space, of the whole. There are the arrows, thin and slender that rip and divide the space; we can walk around them and change our perspective of the space. There are still the avid spots that escape the dominant language of the exhibition and that show themselves through the expansion of the drawing in more multiple shapes. They act on the conceptual level and imagination, and jointly with the empty spaces between the works (which in turn change the time of the reading) they increase and renew the attention on what we have in between hands so that it will continue to escape us and we can be able to see it again, as for the first time.

It is, in short, an big drawing that is not only a drawing, or sculptures that are not only sculptures, because the paper – of the drawing – and the bronze or the iron – of the sculptures – take each other’s lives and become something else; they are fragments of a movement composed by addition and subtraction, by the relation between something current and something older, and within which the artist explores, in his own vocabulary, something that is also part of his artistic practice, that is the investigation of the potential for harmony and complementarity between drawing and sculpture, paper and iron or bronze; but, in this case, by giving them the scale of a microcosm, a small universe (of the poetry) of the look, the surprise and the unpredictability of the transformation of everything that is there and that we “have in between hands”.


Maria Joana Vilela