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Martin Brion

07.07 __ 02.09.2022

PHOTO Bruno Lopes


Martim Brion's work presents itself as being free from all subjectivity. We start from a set of inscriptions that we understand as the axis of his thought and artistic action to then analyse the place of sculpture and painting in his work.


The texts, referring to works of art that we cannot see, are framed by simple frames and line up on the walls like descriptive tables of a reality that is denied to us, for these phrases tell us about objects, paintings or drawings (sometimes even photographs) that we cannot see. Read without attention, each of these "captions" seems to be a description of an existing piece in a museum or gallery or a set of detailed instructions for the production and sale of those same works. Such phrases may refer to the works of others, they may reproduce or forge pages of the artist's own reflections in search of various options for constructing his pieces, they may simply be, creating pure mental images, a way of stimulating the reader's intellectual reflection on the ambiguity of the perception of forms in space.

This part of his work generates or is generated by supplementary, but no less significant, sources of estrangement and distancing. First, their status: they are texts, whose images (through an investment in graphic design) take on an unusual visual dimension; in such a way that we can see them as art and not only in their verbal dimension. Then, the language in which the sentences are written: English, forces audiences of other languages to make an effort of translation. But, above all, it is important to note that the type of contents transmitted appear as a reflection and critical tribute to Conceptualism. Largely indebted to the subsequent drifts of Marcel Duchamp (an artist who placed the strength of the work of art in the idea that emanated from it or was associated to it through verbal discourse), Conceptualism ended up perverting that design and becoming closer to the form than to the idea. One of the most striking characteristics of this line of creation (which reached its peak in the 1970s) was the progressive removal of the artist from manual work in the making of his works, being replaced by construction instructions given to another or others who, in scrupulous compliance with them, ended up making the works without being able to sign them, as they were only interpreters of another's idea.


The sculptures in the exhibition seem to have been derived from the very mental matter of which the previous works are made. It is neither contradictory nor paradoxical to say that the first material of these three-dimensional pieces are the texts (written, available to have been written and framed) and only afterwards are the iron tubes bent and painted with the same alacrity with which the "Process Series-Descriptions" are "painted". Confirming the links between the two disciplines that we have been seeing in his work, the sculptures seem to establish with the spectator the same relationship of ironic distance as the texts; and, at the same time, they accentuate the dimension of play already present: a play of linguistic skill in descriptive capacity, a play of construction (to be) of a three-dimensional piece, a play of chromatic and formal options and dispositions...


Despite the numerous fissures of subjectivity noted in the edifice of the two sets presented, Martim Brion's work really appears as a game. This game is played, not against the natural world, for Martim Brion uses the matrix elements of that world (the colour patterns, the pure geometries and the combinations of these elements), but without taking into account its infinite variability (i.e., the organic "impurity" of nature). Martim Brion thus swings between the idealised purity of the means he chooses as elements of his vocabulary and has at his disposal and the permanent instability provided by the possibilities of association.



João Pinharanda, Maio 2022

Part of the exhibition text “Ponto Contraponto” that was displayed at the Cultural Center of Vila Nova da Barquinha.