Fernão Cruz. Biting Dust

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Biting Dust is a solo exhibition by Fernão Cruz, which features new paintings and new sculptures in a project conceived from scratch for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Since its creation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has supported the work of young and emerging artists in the national art scene, giving space and visibility to their creative expression. Biting Dust is the title of the solo exhibition by Fernão Cruz (Lisbon, 1995), a young artist whose career has been consolidated in the past few years.

The exhibition is the result of an invitation extended directly to the artist and corresponds with a project conceived from scratch for the Gulbenkian Foundation. 30 original works will be shown: 10 canvases painted in oil and alkyd resin and 20 sculptures, almost all of them bronze, installed in two successive, but distinct spaces, separated by a dark corridor that the visitor is invited to walk down after passing through a half-open door-painting.

Talking about his artistic practice, Fernão Cruz reveals that there is a recurrent erasure of what he paints and that the work ‘has to be capable of its potential self-destruction’, adding that ‘it is crucial for there to be failed attempts and paintings so as to give meaning to what is done and ends up not being destroyed or forgotten.’

While this project reflects on death, loss and decline, the artist explains that ‘Biting Dust is also an ode to the life which disguises fear. An attempt at acceptance.’ And he tells us that: ‘While on one hand, the title reveals a certain fear of non-presence (which I think is different to absence), the exhibition can also be a celebration.’

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue with a text by the curator of the exhibition, Leonor Nazaré, a conversation with the artist and the reproduction of all the exhibited works. Each copy of the catalogue will include the special offer of a unique and original drawing, signed by the artist.

Fernão Cruz (b. 1995) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. He graduated from FBAUL with a degree in Painting (2017). Between 2016 and 2017 Fernão lived, studied and worked in Barcelona, at the Universitat de Barcelona: Facultat de Belles Arts. In 2018 he presented the book Stretching Can Be Easy (2018), in collaboration with Rui da Paz. 

He has been the featured artist in residence with BananaJam Art Space (2017) in Shenzhen, China, and the CEAC (2018), at Vila Nova da Barquinha, Portugal. He was also the winner of the Arte Jovem 2017 prize, awarded by Carpe Diem Art and Research + Millenium Bcp Foundation.

He exhibits regularly since 2015, with highlights to the following solo shows: Armoured Room, CIAJG – Centro International das Artes José de Guimarães (Guimarães, 2021), curated by Marta Mestre; Flying Tombstones, ARCO Madrid solo project with Balcony Gallery (Madrid, 2020), curated by Övül Ö. Durmusoglu and Tiago de Abreu Pinto; Bring a friend to the end, SADE Gallery (Los Angeles, 2020), with Francisco Mendes Moreira; The White Goodbye: o que entra pelos olhos e sai pelas mãos, Balcony Gallery offsite (Lisbon, 2019); Fortress, Travessa da Ermida (Lisbon, 2018), curated by Sandro Resende; Long Story Short, Balcony Gallery (Lisbon, 2018); The Second Star To The Right, Balaclava Noir offsite (Lisbon, 2018). Fernão took part in various group shows, such as: Red Light: Sexualidade e representação na coleção Norlinda e José Lima, Centro de Arte Oliva (São João da Madeira, 2020), curated by Sandra Vieira Jürgens; Fazer de Casa Labirinto,  Balcony Gallery (Lisboa, 2020), curated by Ana Cristina Cachola and Sérgio Fazenda Rodrigues; Constellations, Museu Coleção Berardo (Lisbon, 2019), curated by Ana Rito and Hugo Barata; Canal Aberto, Appleton [BOX] (Lisbon, 2019); O futuro do presente, Cisterna FBAUL (Lisbon, 2018), curated by Vítor dos Reis; Cola Cuspo, Espaço AZ (Lisbon, 2018); 289, Associação 289, Pedro Cabrita Reis’ project (Faro, 2018); @britishbar#6, British Bar, Pedro Cabrita Reis’ project (Lisbon, 2017); We are the ones vol. 1, Carlsberg Byens Galleri & Kunstsalon (Copenhagen, 2017); Quatro Elementos, Galeria Municipal do Porto (Porto, 2017), curated by Pedro Faro; A Dispensa, Pavilhão 31 (Lisbon, 2017); Panorama, Le Consulat (Lisbon, 2017), curated by Adelaide Ginga; Prémio Paula Rego, Casa das Histórias (Cascais, 2016). 

Fernão’s work is represented in many public and private art collections, such as the Contemporary Art Collection of the State of Portugal, António Cachola Collection, Art Collection of the EDP Foundation, Norlinda e José Lima Collection, Figueiredo Ribeiro Collection, PLMJ Foundation.

Studio, February 2021. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Luís Rocha



Interview with the artist in his studio

Curators / artists texts

Leonor Nazaré

Attentive to the generation of emerging artists, the CAM team seeks to offer space for them to express themselves, alongside the rest of the programming. This exhibition is the result of an invitation to Fernão Cruz to hold a solo exhibition, planned from scratch for the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and therefore featuring previously unseen works: paintings and sculptures installed in two successive but distinct spaces, separated by a corridor along which the visitor is invited to walk.

Painting is a place of fiction elevated by humour and expansive gestures. In this project, it is also a swing door to another dimension: a narrow passageway and a dark place where sculpture free-falls into an unfathomable abyss.

Fernão Cruz’s painting always gives the strong impression of a playful component, of joyous colour, linguistic diatribe, plays on words and shapes, cut-outs and plasticity, scale according to a necessary swiftness of the eyes and senses. The world can be that party where a continuous cartoon enlivens the screens, where an uncommitted, chaotic and dreamlike surreality takes on effervescence, metamorphosis, singularity, eruptions, flow, surprise, absurdity, contortion, impudence and thoughtlessness. But according to Fernão Cruz, a work ‘has to be capable of its potential self-destruction.’ Any work is in continual movement from the moment it starts to be undertaken. And if art can be a reflection of life, the work is a rhythmic and renewed mutation of both.

The swing door-painting in the first room of the exhibition proposes a crossing: to the other side of the painting and its surfaces, to the experience of the volume, on another level of reality. Going from the second to the third dimension and from there to the time of death and to the control of light does not mean just destabilising the distinction between image and object, idea and realisation, screen and spatiality; it means, more than anything, the voluntary abandonment of the coordinates of safety. ‘Panic room’? A room of black humour and helplessness in the face of the gravitas of the situation.

The bronze objects, which populate the walls like prosaic ex-votos, are more or less capricious notes of that which permeates the palpable rush of days, but also of the fantasy that ravages them. In the centre, an unlawful kidnapping is committed by a gigantic bird of prey: the theft of an item of clothing (a skin), a layer of the soul.



Leonor Nazaré

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