José Cardoso Pires1983

Written for the exhibition
Óleos de Manuel Amado / Oil paintings by Manuel Amado - Galeria de S. Mamede, Lisbon, 1983
Here, everything tells me so, the spaces of solitude stand: when I feel that eyes are looking at me, all of them are aglow with a very intimate echo – which only belongs to them.  
Hence the purity of line and colour, the precision of the storied (dated, one could say) walls and furniture that inhabit us, and also this hurt irony, composed of tidiness and accuracy. Indeed, composure and thoroughness, once elevated to a unique, most personal immobility, become a subtle and disturbing irony, as we all well know. 

And the one we have here, far from being passive, has the near-cruelty of staring at us as an intentional mark, a presence. Let us say it is the gaze of whatever sees us depart and remains behind.

But can the gaze of what is left behind ever be so concrete and luminous?

The gaze of the houses can. Houses, walls, stairs, objects, shadowy angles, all that world appears before us with the ostinato rigore of a survey or a ‘descriptive memoir.’ 
All this is quite evocative of a geometer’s precision. Then, one is easily drawn by the accuracy of the lines and the mathematical energy with which the light is projected. But in this case the ‘vanishing point’ on which both the drawing and the description are focused is himself: the Painter and his Memory, and once this is acknowledged all precision becomes inverted: the reality of the landscape is so obstinately and ‘faithfully’ reproduced that it becomes, on a second reading, disturbingly bizarre. 

Here we have a subtle hint of disorder in the seductive tidiness; or, if we wish, the very discreet and humorous way in which the fantastic exists alongside the most palpable and objective reality.    

Then, we think of how everything – these walls, these floors – is tensely dense on the inside. 

Everything has a soul and breathes in the most secret of silences, and there is always a footprint or a face, diluted in the whitewash or atmosphere of these unpopulated spaces. One face that stares at us with nostalgia for itself, as it takes its leave. Only one?  

That is the reason, I think, why Manuel Amado’s painting’s presence is so hieratic and vigilant in its luminosity. It contains no trace of self-promotion, only memory and passage. It is a step, a window, a wall (those signs that connect us to the others’ world) that says it with its eternity of colour, its immaculate lines, its light. That says it, no; that knows it. And everything is in that testimony, because the House/Street, Shadow/Light duality becomes here the most intimate formulation of the everyday movements of all of us. It is there, on these abandoned spaces, that our memories of journey and return, of dream (evasion) and routine become manifest.   

God, how they haunt us and whisper to us. How they move us, too.