José Escada (1934-1980) Untitled, 1973. Oil on canvas. 55.5 x 38 cm. Inv. 83P1009



One of a series paintings by José Escada from the early 1970s in the Modern Collection, this example conforms to an ornamental language, with an economy of colour – restricted to a combination of three tones: olive green, black, and pale yellow. The primary motif, a knot or chain link, forms a large “S”, double “S”, and figure “8”, with loops and gear teeth-like profiles in green and black. This motif contrasts with two spots of light, suggested by the pale yellow, like a pair of symmetrical fans or shells, the “heart” of this imaginary heraldic art. It is a diaphanous, mysterious light that appears to emanate from an undefined, internal and, at the same time, distant source. On the black background, the monogram appears to emerge in relief, with a cruciform structure. These visual elements, which give rise to a complete, enclosed unit, could almost be a pattern module, like a coat of arms or insignia. They are, therefore, elements from an ancient metallurgist grammar, a type of fleuron, glyph, or smelter’s brand with which the artist created an identity for himself. This image could be considered a variation on the serpentine forms of chains, ropes, and cords, themes that José Escada explored throughout his career, from the mid-1960s right up until his death. This work was – along with three others from the same series and period – exhibited in an anthological exhibition dedicated to the artist, which was held at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Centre Culturel Portugais, in Paris, in 1991.

Ana Filipa Candeias


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Updated on 03 august 2016

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