Francisco Bethencourt The Great Flood 2000

Written for the exhibition
La grande crue Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, France, 2001

Empty, meticulously painted architectural spaces form unique sequences from which human figures are excluded. Such is Manuel Amado’s method, which yields surprising results: the non-inhabited space becomes an expressive space, built by man’s hands, open to the questioning of the variety of meanings it contains. Paradoxically, the absence of human figures becomes a striking element. That absence brings a constant tension to the artist’s pictorial universe and asks a disturbing question: could it be that constructing the space, that is to say, depicting it solely as itself, is not enough?   

The series we present here today contains an additional element of disturbance: the architectural spaces are flooded. This presentation ‘detail’ changes everything: the inside/outside relationship, the hieratic play of shadows, lights and colours, the interiors’ proportions. What is at stake in this play of mirrors is, once again, the human condition, exposed by the transformation of a previously harmonious and controlled environment. A double source of disquiet, which, we believe, fully justifies our pleasure in bringing to the Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian a work so full of vigour and meaning.