Durante o Sono
When Rui Chafes says that his work is almost baroque, because it is based on the principle of the illusion, he says it with regard to this ball of painted iron, which he considers to be the culmination of many years of work. Iron has been the material of choice for his sculptures, painted in black or grey «so that the material can be hidden».*
In Durante o Sono (During Sleep), as in many of his other works, the artist explores a false sense of lightness, a quality of potential transmutation that must stem from that continuous line, which he wishes to make perceptible, between the organic forms of nature and the mechanical devices which, to our eyes, could be machines of war or torture; between a state of mind and an understanding of the world that suspects that there is something beyond the visible; between the pain or the awareness of death and the Romantic exaltation of beauty. «Death is what keeps us awake», the artist would say.
As in other works belonging to this series, a heavy black ball is raised up. A black point on matter. Its suspension/elevation/support represents a derivation, filaments, a draining of that matter. It suggests mobility and rootedness. There is an excess of this dark, dense matter: it leaves a trail; or it acquires roots, legs, tentacles, and begins to take on an organic character. And, in the area of these supports, it allows the void to be part of this volume, to outlined and to make part of the lifting force; and it allows the edge of the work, and the fate of the sphere also, to open up to something undefined. The equilibrium is presented as being solid, but unexpected; the ratio of the image of weight to that of fragility is inverted, the question of gravity is raised. Might the title, Durante o Sono, refer to a nightmare moment? Does this organism represent the dream itself? Or a frightening perception of its strangeness?
Among the series of black balls on filaments that he created between 1998 and 2001, elucidatory titles abound such as Suave medo escuro [Soft dark fear], Amanhecer [Dawn], Respiração [Breathing], A Alma [The Soul], prisão do corpo [prison of the body], A tua sombra… [Your shadow…]. Chafes’s belief in the mobilising capacity of art and its catalytic function in the understanding of the hidden forces that inhabit both us and nature, led him to state: «For me, the important thing is radiation, the energy that an object possesses; that is where my work resides. That is why I do not make multiple copies. I am interested in the soul of an object». Later, he says: «If art does not awaken us, there is no reason to make it. And anyone who contemplates it will be wasting his time».**
* In «Conversa entre Rui Chafes e Doris Von Drathen, Guincho, 19 October 2001», in Rui Chafes, Um Sopro (esculturas 1998-2002), Porto, Galeria Graça Brandão, 2003, p. 244.
** Idem, pp. 246 and 247.
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