• 2007
  • Photographic paper
  • Inkjet print
  • Inv. FP557

Manuel Botelho

101.rç-cmb (da série Confidencial/Desclassificado: ração de combate) [101.rç-cmb (from the series Confidential / Declassified: combat food)]

Suspending thirty years of drawing and painting, Botelho turned to photography in 2006 so as to resume a central subject in his work, the colonial war – “some things are ‘paintable’”, he explained, “but others are just not.”* Two years later, he inaugurated three exhibitions under the common title of Confidencial / Desclassificado [Confidential / Declassified]. For the Inventário [Inventory] show he gathered images of the weaponry used in the conflict; in Emboscada [Ambush], he exhibited self-representations in various poses and lastly, in a more allegorical group, Ração de Combate [Combat food], the two photos from CAM's collection were featured.


Photography extends Botelho's pictorial practise: the appeal of figuration, the tension among elements, focus, proportion, and a finite espace that is arranged with regard to the limits set by the frame. Such mise-en-scène in photography lives off the traditions and conventions of Western painting, in tableaux vivants that vaguely bring to mind Jeff Wall's photographic work, to which Botelho considers himself closer than to any contemporary painter.** The recent conversion to the photographic act has triggered the artists's personal terrors – and an increasing violent imagery of armed children and corrupt politicians emerging in his works –, through the metallic and exact language that is unknown to painting, in a series of fictioned details alluding to the psychological experience of warfare.


Alcohol, money, knives, cigarettes, sex (lasciviously suggested by a finger inside a bottle, an old genre painting's trick) or gambling. Contrary to the still lifes of past times, where flowers and food were frozen by painting in their climax of prosperity and vitality, all has withered and been consumed in this scenario of trauma, whose bric-a-brac of butt ends, lethal weapons, flat beer, worn-out cards and obsolete money, denies the promise of life.



* Manuel Botelho, S. Pedro do Estoril, 2008/2009. Available at www.manuelbotelho.com

** Cf. Letter to António Matos, December 21st 2002.






Typeseries n.
Updated on 23 january 2015

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