João Freitas

João Freitas’ work is all about the concept of traces, wear and time to get to the heart of the structures he uses as materials : paper, cardboard, tissue, sandpaper, etc. The artist’s intent is to gently assault the material to make it speak out, to confess to something elusive, in the same way an anatomical dissection unveils the real structure and components of an organism. João Freitas seeks to uncover and uplift the material, infusing it with a mystical sense by revealing its secrets and mutations, much like the work of alchemists transforms materials into ether, vapour and other essences.
João Freitas is one of those artists who learns by doing. Nothing seems to be set in concrete when he embarks on his dissections. He finds whilst looking, like an archaeologist who lifts out a buried artefact. A sensitive and attentive apprentice -aesthete, he seeks to uncover combinations with unlimited effects and tricks in these artefacts, generating an infinite poetry that does not exclude violence. In this respect, within the simultaneously rough and smooth relationship with the material, he manages to get us to chime with these ineffable questions relating to time, presence and the tangible world, which in his crucible are turned into a durable, palpable and immanent material.
Whether through wear, by sanding or roasting, by folding, sewing or crumpling, he exposes the material by taking it to a transcendent level by way of a dissection which, without distorting it makes it come alive again in a different dimension.
Therein lies the ineffable significance of João’s work. Much like a roll of photographic film, a sgraffito, a ‘scratch card’ or a peel, he reveals reality by way of repetitive, almost meditative removal, cutting up, pulling out, scratching and clawing, which exposes the underlying reality, in an approach that is not dissimilar to that of New Matterism, which explores issues of sustainability, gratuitousness, recovery and re-enchantment. He presents this much like a wonder worker, a sorcerer who unveils the true nature of the world, who denudes, skins, burns and scrapes this world so as to demonstrate its undivinable constitution.
All of which makes for an ecstatic experience and a new understanding of reality when coming face to face with these paintings of burnt skin, killer membranes, sutured tissues, etc. showing the kind of suffering applied to the inanimate nature of the materials, which seem to come alive through this apparent pain.
We are talking about the autopsy of a palimpsest as a metaphor for the way we should understand João’s work : the palimpsest is a piece of parchment (made from animal skin) whose surface is scratched to erase what was previously written on it so as to be able to write a new text. Rewriting is very much what it is all about in the artist’s body of work: through his agency, regardless of what that is, the first version of the material or the message is erased in order to write down a new reality and to create a second version on the same medium. It is this craftsmanship, which is like an autopsy of death, death to the first version of the material, that is enriched by the random nature of the result, which connects with the artist’s aim of laying down a new wording of the world.
It isint his sense that the transfiguration of the work participates in this other reading of reality, which invites us to find different emotions, other possibles and other raptures in in the way it manifests itself.