21.06 > 12.07.2017
Teresa Pavão — A Fábrica

This exhibition is inevitably nostalgic. First because it is intimately bound up with the space and time of the place in which it occurs, and also because it closes a decade-long cycle of work at Appleton Square. For around 50 years there was a trimmings factory here, which Teresa Pavão visited throughout her life. She came first out of curiosity, and then her work in textiles brought her countless times to 27 Rua Acácio de Paiva in Alvalade to buy materials. She also came with the intention of buying some pieces of furniture for her studio-shop, after hearing that the factory had been sold and was going to close. Teresa Pavão is perhaps the only artist, of the more than 100 artists who have worked at Appleton Square, who knew and had established a relationship with the factory. Who remembers the noise of the machines, the colours of the threads, the beauty of the silks. Who knew the names of the women who worked there, often with no breaks, and who remembers them as a symbol of the place’s greatest paradox – the harshness of the working practices in contrast to the delicacy of everything that was produced there. Who hasn’t forgotten the silence that marked the end, the gradual emptying of the shelves. And who affectionately accumulated many of these objects, which she uses in her work to this day. This exhibition is thus triggered by affections. And I use the plural because in this case there are two entirely different types of affection: affection for the past, for the connection with the factory, and affection for the present, for the connection with Appleton Square. They are affections that relate above all to the beauty of being and making, a fundamental inspiration for any artist. I would venture to suggest that it is the pull of the past that is strongest – even if the past represents oppression and the present freedom, it is hard to resist the allure of (re)visiting what no longer exists. And it is this that Teresa Pavão invites us to do with her exhibition. On the one hand through the pieces that she places on the wall: looms with silk threads and other materials from the factory, which may well have been produced there, and on the other through the exhibition device she has conceived, with the machine installed in the room where it operated for so many years, alongside the table – in an allusion to an assembly line – that displays the ‘frames’ that complete the exhibited pieces and transform them into light boxes. The lower room brings an interesting dichotomy to the exhibition: here Teresa Pavão reminds us of the present, making sure we remember we are in a gallery, more specifically in Appleton Square, an exhibition space with which she maintains this affectionate and sustained link. And she does this through a deliberate and effective staging in which she exhibits the factory’s ‘final product’ – her ‘work of art’. It thus becomes clear that Teresa Pavão’s art is, in this case, inspired by her connection to the place; not in its formal sense as an exhibition space, but in another sense that is emotional, concerned with the memories and feelings associated with a time that is gone. It is thus inspired by ‘nostalgia for place’, for this place that has been transformed and liberated but which, as we sense through this exhibition, has retained its charm, its magic, its life, its rhythm, its colours.

Vera Appleton, 2018

credits © appleton square

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Sponsors: HCI / Colecção Maria e Armando Cabral