In the beginning it was the Word, only later the Man. Was it? Matter before medium, content before vehicle, language before speaker, was it? Rodrigo Garcia Dutra, immersed in these thoughts, isolated, exiled in a strange and distant land. Thus begins his relationship with Portugal and his long journey until reaching this cave at Galeria Nuno Centeno and this project Magma.
It was during the two-year hiatus of the pandemic, in the limbo of an ocean that divides two countries - so close and so far away that Rodrigo saw his artistic practice transformed and spiralled by the moment. Language was the starting point. It's similar, but not quite. It's not quite the one at home. What do ‘Portuguese languages’ have in common? Words, as they are the foundation of language and plasticity in Rodrigo's work. Spheres, cubes, colourless hieroglyphic triangles float in pre-time, transhistorical and non-human cosmic perspectives. The place where the artist inhabits is the now, not Portugal or Brazil, but this space of locution, this celestial non-place before Man and Nature. Where we were still just Word.
Far from welcoming, these spaces are vertiginous, uncomfortable, and hostile. Despite that, we are drawn into them, as we are drawn into this cave. Magma projection - lava on plastic; paintings and intervened objects; the black earth that mixes with the soil – as told in the Eldorado myth - making it more fertile - as does the experience of this installation. Philosophic Paradise, the poem by Guimarães Rosa, which, mirroring itself by experience, accompanies us at every step ‘...sculpting invisible and impossible new forms’.
We want to cross the surface of the canvases - pasty, opaque and heavy, and pass to the other side. Geological paintings they can be. Freed from our body, we would also become the Word. Light and insignificant, universal elements of thought. But relieved of the burden of thinking. Yes. Before Man, there was no thinking. The existence of the body validated by the mind. In Garcia Dutra's works, in the experience of this cave, time stretches, there is no weight of consciousness - we are forever, and I – yes I do repeat what I said before - spheres, cubes, colourless hieroglyphic triangles that float in cosmic, liquid and eternal perspectives.
Text by Luiza Teixeira de Freitas