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Rui Moreira

The pictures by the Portuguese artist Rui Moreira (1971, Porto) reflect a very personal universe. The drawings, in a large or very large format, often take several months to be realised with their meticulous and precise detail, in an almost meditative state. Whether the content is representational or abstract and geometrical, they always express the inner experiences that the artist has had on his travels, through close contact with new and far away cultures and religions, with a resonance connected to literature and music.

For Moreira, drawing is a holistic and physically intensive experience in which it is necessary for him to involve both body and soul. Furthermore, his travels are not just a source of inspiration. Their external circumstances also produce a specific, individual mood that finds an echo in his works. For example, the days of almost uninterrupted and lonely work in extreme temperatures, during a sojourn, at the barren edge of the desert in the south of Morocco has had just as much impact on him as his trip to India; which took him not only to Buddhist and Hindu holy sites, but also gave him the opportunity to engage with the art of Tibetan mandalas in a monastery in Dharamsala. Moreover, a stay in the mountainous landscapes of Portugal's north-east, which took him back to the places of his childhood, brought him into contact with the local carnival and the “Caretos”, the maskwearers whose activities derive from a three-thousand-year-old fertility cult. The experiences gleaned from his own participation in this cult directly influenced his drawings, according to Moreira, “I see field work as an important aspect of my activities. The intensive inner experience gives the drawing a greater depth. I like to draw from the inside out.”

The works by Moreira can be divided up, without any sharp distinction, into figurative, landscape and abstract motifs. Like the eponymous poem by the Portuguese author Herberto Hélder, A Máquina de Emaranhar Paisagens, which inspired the artist’s series of geometric and abstract configurations, his drawings are "machines of entangling landscapes". Generally, the artist pays special attention to the titles of his work. They are chosen with special care and they add further layers of depth to the abundance of formal associations and thematic references. Additionally, the figures, evoking both the Tuaregs and the “Caretos”, give the drawings a narrative, even mythical content. The titles, without being illustrative, refer either to literary sources (I’m a Lost Giant in a Burnt Forest, which is a quote from the novel 2666 by the Chilean author Robert Bolaño and refers as well to a particular moment of the artist’s life...), or to cinema (the mentioned work has also been mainly inspired by Werner Herzog’s film Fitzcarraldo, as well as e.g. David Lynch's series Twin Peaks had an impact on the drawing The Man of the Log). Current political topics are also represented, such as the 2007 Portuguese referendum on abortion, in his artwork Our Lady of Abortion. The drawings and landscape motifs seem as if they are graphic recordings of physical experiences of the artist – all-overs on the borderline to abstraction. Moreira also associates his drawings with György Ligeti's choir piece Morgen, with works from Karlheinz Stockhausen and with the song O Segundo Sol by the Brazilian singer Cássia Eller.

Of great complexity both formally and thematically, the drawings by Rui Moreira provide viewers with a wealth of visual and intellectual stimuli to explore their “inner pictures”.

Artworks

  1. Rui Moreira The Man of the Log, 2009

    Gouache, stylo gel et crayon sur papier
    231,5 x 160 cm
    Collection Mudam Luxembourg
    Acquisition 2014
    © Photo : Rémi Villaggi / Mudam Luxembourg

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