Small fractions – 2003

by Paulo Venancio Filho

What we find in this exhibition by Raul Mourão is a sensor constantly on the move through a highly saturated social environment. After capturing a given object or situation and inspecting at length materials, dimensions, forms, locations, etc., the sensor immediately proceeds to a synthetic global grasp of the target and puts it into a sort of plastic restructuring program. The logic applied is elastic, flexible, and ironic, and comprises a set of instructions on current urban visuality. The time is the immediate present. A conspicuous intimacy with the city fixes a fraction an instant, equating it with the contemporary structure of the image. Legibility is a social given; this is the world of pop (or post-pop). The work does not, however, propose to reproduce such a world but to translate it into a concise pattern of presentation. Raul measures the object’s rhythm of transmitting information and equates its randomness ironically. His essentially democratic method can be applied to anything – signs, signals, railing, soccer or architecture – and though it may be saturated with a particular version of local wit, it is “scientifically” committed to the final result. What is indispensable is a clear technical definition of the work which accepts improvisation but nothing improvised slapdash.

Raul sets mobility up as an open, collective program: everybody circulates through city spaces that are both sensory and mental, the city space being the set of all available fractions which, when articulated, make up everyday lived experience. The intimately recreational and deeply committed relationship established between artist and city is a constantly renewed total game. So each work reveals itself as a possible way through which the spontaneous leisure and intelligence of everyday life can be recreated – an entertainment which articulates criticism and humor in opposition to the insipid alienation of routine. The constructive visual economy precisely locates the humor subjugated by chaos and delivers it, at no cost, to the detachment of collective everyday life.

This active observer constantly fractions the local/global city so that the work must necessarily be multiple and the plastic vocabulary a program equally applicable to drawing, sculpture, video, objects, photographs and installations – to fractions large and small alike.