Certain artists demarcate such a unique creative territory that it is very difficult to position them within the continuous flow of art history.
Fernando Lanhas (Porto, 1923 - 2012) will always be referred to as a precursor to abstractionism in Portugal. But it is likely that such a label will ultimately be counterproductive for informed understanding of the projective magnitude of his artistic intentions.
Lanhas’ artistic territory is best defined in terms of the seismic dimension of his continuous replicas. His oeuvre work is not exclusively linked to a specific period. Instead it is a diffuse, overwhelming and active mapping of a constant exercise of aesthetic and scientific curiosity.
Indeed, his work occupies a continuous present, as a result of his idiosyncratic openness to the unknown. Architecture, cosmology, astronomy, archeology, museology, poetry and art are mere knowledge-constellations in mutant interconnection, that a single brain and body, at a certain moment in time, knew how to interpret as a source of infinite questions, in terms of their rational clarity and almost shamanic speculation.
Lanhas - who touches, measures, maps and disseminates. Lanhas - who levitates in poetic action, plastic scrutiny, and the almost minimal density of precise words and paintings that are elementary, rigorous and modernly universal.
Lanhasland: a country without borders, which, like its founder, can levitate in a dream with the profound gravity of a different kind knowledge that disarms us and leaves us in a constant state of shock.
This exhibition is nothing other than an indexical note of this deterritorialisation of the expected conventionality of artistic work.
The magnificent shards of his oeuvre include:
- jokes published in the Primeiro de Janeiro between 1946 and 1950, carefully clipped and kept by their author (who at the time used the pseudonym, Clemente)
- four enlarged photographs from a set of hundreds of slides, that document study trips and moments of discovery in a territory that his gaze can interpret like no one else
- unpublished drawings, shown here for the first time
- a painting that has rarely been seen before
- photocopies of three dreams
- painted pebbles, in an unparalleled intervention in the context of bringing art closer to nature through its disarming simplicity and aesthetic impact
- maps (of different sizes and kinds)
- exhibition architecture plans
- a bewildering design for an aerial photographic device
- presentations of architectural projects
- two fossils (graptolites) discovered in 1943, that reveal truly premonitory and echoing abstract signs of his future paintings
Lanhasland is, therefore, the assumed incompleteness of a question that Fernando Lanhas always repeats: “What’s all this?”.
Miguel von Hafe Pérez