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Saturday, September 22, 2007
An Ant in the Skirt of the Universe
Exhibition by Marco Mendes
September 22nd, Plumba Gallery, Porto
The Introduction Marco Obliged Me to Write
By Lígia Paz
In the far, distant summer when my eyes first met the work of whom would soon become my partner, Marco Mendes, it was impossible to predict what was about to happen. In the moments right after the confrontation, I felt like an oyster in a steeple - ashamed and surprised by his impulsive need of performing self-portraits of manly dwarfs; and scared with the intimate vigour of his trace. I feared he would try to cover me in lemon juice, and then devour me completely. I wasn’t too far from the truth.
But let’s start from the beginning. There was a house shared by Marco with his partner from the collective “A Mula”, Miguel Carneiro, with a mythical living room: scenery of multiple parties, a ping-pong table, a famous sofa where so many have slept and been portrayed; not to forget the walls, covered with drawings and several forms of relief. It was an environment with the scent of decay and share, excess and friends, and the unavoidable existence of the toilet’s decrepit plunger. Sex, drugs, alcohol and rock’n’roll were joined by self-biographical and plural testimonies thru the walls, sparkling with raw and involving intimacy. And, quite often, they were capable of surprising the most bilious herring with an unexpected humour.
Self-centred and filled with contemplative romanticism, degenerate and joyful, meticulous and dirty, Marco’s sensibility reveals contradictions and complexities which gain sense and become natural in the path of his work. In this way, a virtuous technique is joined by erasure and amendment, melancholy meets pornography, and the representation of reality gathers the absurd and fiction. To a dark, nostalgic, anguished or even lonely side, sums a sometimes unlikely, sometimes morbid humour.
In all the rawness of his social realism, without tricks or self-complacency, the representations and portraits of the surrounding friends are also a testimony of our current times and of this generation. It is also very clear a sense of share, identity, and belonging – to a community, gathered by common values, experiences, and eighty cents beer.
The inner characteristics of his work might, or not, be catalogued in different approaches. When representation takes the place of a detailed, elaborate drawing, the resulting frame is often refined and unusual. Common objects are captured in a novel perspective, observant to small details and to the many faces of daily life. Those are often marked with a profound feeling of nostalgic tranquillity. In his comics work, the exploration goes to the rhythmic possibilities inherent to the format, being the drawings more explosive, emotive, and surprisingly funny. There is a vivid concern in letting flow words and happenings, in a continuous and frequently corrected, scratched, and left alone text, as if there is no rubber. It is mostly in this medium that it can be found a broader distance between the portrayed individual and the fictional character. In this pseudo reality created by the authors’ hand, they travel thru the spectrum of all the best and worse we all have – the absurd, the dark side, the pleasure, the happiness, the failure and sexual limitations; our tastes, fragilities, perversities and mania. Interpretations and reflections on reality become more critic and politic, while satire gains importance.
In the last few months, Marco has not only abdicated from the presidency in a well-quoted Wall Street company, from waiter in a Hong-Kong stripper club, from washing his clothes as often as he should; he also took time to make my life miserable, with his total ink dedication, artistic traits and graphite diva demands. But none of this was in vain – as you are about to savour the pleasure of his exhibition at Plumba Gallery.