José Escada (1934-1980) Untitled, 1973. Oil on canvas. 55.5 x 38 cm. Inv. 83P1011



In terms of form and theme, this work from the ropes and chains series is similar to the other three paintings with black backgrounds that José Escada created during that period and which also form part of the Modern Collection: serpentine and tubular forms in olive green, a pale yellow light concentrated in the shape of an open hand in the upper part of the image, a brilliance that appears to emanate from beyond the painting. A hand, ropes, and locks once more provide the vocabulary for personal, mysterious and, at the same time, crystalline imagery. The primary motif, treated in an almost ingenuous fashion, is the horseshoe shape, a brand or glyph of profiles united in a lock. Similar to an “8” or a “Ω”, it occupies almost the entire available surface, forming a single module that is enclosed upon itself. The lock, with its sinuous shape, directly recalls a poetics of the mystery and transcendence of life (the artist’s own life), understood as a movement or passage between an apparently simple and stable exterior (notice the horizontal line at the bottom that underpins the composition) and an intricate, asymmetrical, ascending interior that is like a complex component of a pipe organ, featuring a vital pneumatics, elements with which José Escada repeatedly experimented in his creations with ropes and skeins. Beyond the image is the illuminated hand. This hand is the only member José Escada depicted more than once, the perfect metaphor for his demiurgic work: transformer of matter, creator of images and meanings, inventor of symbols.

This work was exhibited at an exhibition 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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