The “Saudade” paintings explore proportion, both compressing and expanding in their scale. Like the lens that zooms from the astral to microscopic view, these works shift from the aerial to the subterranean. As a result, they can feel both weightless and encrusted. The collection of paintings is flamboyantly maximalist yet strangely self-contained. The monochrome works absorb light like a vacuum. They remind me of the terror of outer space. And though it seems literal to draw a comparison between pockets of negative space in the belly of a painting and the punctured holes of the ozone layer, the image is salient. Contemporary art with any real relationship to nature confront ruin.
Painted in the arduous and repressed cycle of isolation during the pandemic, these works stage a catharsis. Absorbed in an atmosphere of tension they answer the collective desire for release. In them l find a nostalgia for freedom. Physical, geographic and spiritual freedom. To express a very complex context Eduardo Santos looked to the concept of stasis and the conflicted desire it inspires. Memory stained by both elation and sorrow is roughly the English translation of the Portuguese word “Saudade”. The Fado song “Saudade” by Cesaria Evora speaks of an endless cycle of return, a state of longing hinged on distant. It is natural to mourn a place that is sealed off, partitioned by hard borders. The artist describes his recollections of Brazil like a strata, both compressed and visceral. Over years it has served as the atmospheric bedrock of intensely abstract paintings. Works that encircle and absorb the pattern of their own forms. Works that defy the weight of materiality, expanding beyond the sum of their parts.
Anna Johnson. 2021
Installation view at Blockprojects Gallery 28 July – 14 August 2021