“Conto Interrompido”*, a solo exhibition of confusing, complicated, contradictory, ambiguous messages by Portuguese visual artist Mário Belém in Lisbon, Portugal at Underdogs Gallery.
We’re all supposed to speak more or less the same language yet sometimes we understand bugger all nothing of what the other person is saying. In his first solo exhibition at Underdogs, Mário Belém presents an ensemble of works that invite the viewer to reflect – in an amusing way, free of any crap, pretentiousness – on one of the greatest paradoxes of the present reality: communication breakdowns in a world where information reigns supreme yet suffers from its own excess. Clearly playing with the confusion, the complications, the contradictions, and the ambiguity which we frequently come across in face of the visual and oral discourse – of both individuals and formal systems of communication – that surrounds us in our day-to-day, the artist showcases here an entirely new body of work composed of an array of visual narratives materialised in pieces of various dimensions that are halfway between painting and sculpture in wood, a medium which he has been favouring in his recent artistic practice.
From the chaos present in this amalgamation of diversified contents dispersed around the gallery, that blends the familiar with the unusual, emanates a proposition of a scenic nature that challenges the viewer to question the principles of interpretation. A corpus of messages and compositions – more or less straightforward, more or less intelligible – that appear framed in formats with an advertising flavour and that reveal a personal fascination with the juxtaposition between visual representation and the vast universe of the written and oral word that extends from the (un)reasonable vernacular of the quotidian to the pernicious pseudo-factuality of advertising slogans and newsworthy sound bites. The overall result is a type of hermeneutic metaphor – magical, yet unassuming – in the form of interrupted coitus tale, where an intercourse between parties with full realisation might, or might not – according to the interpretation and understanding of each viewer – take place.
*The title plays with the similarity between the Portuguese words “conto” (tale; story) and “coito” (coitus). “Interrompido” means interrupted in English. It is therefore a play on both Interrupted Tale and Coitus Interruptus.
Underdogs is a cultural platform based in Lisbon, Portugal that aims at creating space within the contemporary art scene for artists connected with the new languages of urban-inspired graphic and visual culture, fostering the establishment of partnerships and collaborative e orts between creators, cultural agents, exhibition venues and the city, contributing to establish a close relationship between these and the public. e Underdogs project rests on three complementary areas: a gallery; a public art programme; and the production of original and a ordable artist editions.