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João Leonardo and Francisco Vidal

MIGUEL AMADO

in: Artforum Online, September 2006



João Leonardo and Francisco Vidal’s coincident solo debuts in Galeria 111 in Lisbon are, in terms of subject matter and form, distinct: Mining post-Minimalist serial strategies, Leonardo examines the poetics of time in a Conceptual manner; inspired by street visual culture —graffiti imagery, fanzine-style comics — Vidal has developed a powerful, visually engaging style. However, both use personal experience as source material. Leonardo explores his vices and virtues as the star of his performance-based videos, and Vidal reflects upon daily life in his monumental wall paintings. Three works anchor Leonardo’s show: a video in which the artist is seen smoking and finishing crossword puzzles, and a sculpture and a painting that likewise document these activities, albeit idiosyncratically. Calendário I (Calendar I), 1996–2006, incorporates 3,600 identical cigarette packs and is divided into ten segments, each corresponding to a year; Calendário II (Calendar II), 2003–2006, contains 1,008 completed crosswords; both relate to Lista de Verbos (List of Verbs), 2006, a chart consisting of a list of all the verbs—around 12,500—existing in the Portuguese language, handwritten by the artist during one thirty-nine-hour stretch. 

Vidal’s show combines a series of large-scale paintings and drawings with a group of graphic diaries, both of which share an unfinished technique, figurative motifs, and bright color. Explicitly revealing the artist’s intimate thoughts, the works operate on a political level as public speech, presenting a singular vision of the world. Mixing intellectual references, O Retrato de Zadie Smith lendo On Beauty (The Portrait of Zadie Smith Reading On Beauty), 2006, best demonstrates the artist’s ability: a rough depiction of this emerging British writer, born to a Jamaican mother, whose novels express the sense of displacement, rooted in ethnicity, that marks contemporary existence. Vidal’s cacophony of pictures contrasts with the pristine language underlying Leonardo’s approach, yet both artists examine conceptions of self as a basis for artistic practice with sophistication.


Miguel Amado

Curator and critic