Ghosts don't have shadows, but foxes do
An interview with André Romão
Winner of the EDP Foundation New Artist Award in 2007, André Romão invites the viewer to join an artistic universe where he evokes literature, poetry, philosophy and history in the context of his contribution for the exhibition Um oásis ao entardecer – 20th Anniversary of the EDP Foundation Awards.
André Romão was the first to respond positively and enthusiastically to the challenge we presented some of the artists, namely to reflect on the notion of contamination as a possible starting point for a reciprocal exchange and dialogue. Romão, the youngest artist to win the EDP Foundation New Artists Award, told us that his profound admiration for Lourdes Castro, the first winner of the foundation’s Art Grand Prize in 2000, was one of the main reasons why he incorporated Plexiglas in his practice in 2011. For Um oásis ao entardecer – 20th Anniversary of the EDP Foundation Awards, he proposed producing a plinth on which he would place, in dialogue, several works of his (some new, others produced in previous years) and a selection of Lourdes Castro’s Plexiglas works from the 1960s, mostly silhouettes of friends and colleagues.
The title the artist proposed for his proposal, A Sombra da Raposa [The Shadow of the Fox], refers to oriental literature and folk tales in which foxes represent spiritual creatures – Kitsune in Japanese and Huli Jing in Chinese – with magic powers and the ability to take on human form, particularly that of young women, but whose reflection cast by their shadow always revealed their true nature. Magical beings, they inhabit a kind of limbo between the animal and human, the spiritual and the earthly, the male and the female, and which intermingle, poetically and metaphorically, not only with the work of Lourdes Castro and her explorations of shadow – that represents, as opposed to light, all that is unreal, intangible and fleeting – but also with a number of themes that André Romão himself has been investigating over the last few years, namely conceptual notions related to ambiguity and ambivalence, humankind and nature, metamorphosis and the hybridisation of the body. In August 2020, in the course of this project, we went with the artist to Madeira to meet Lourdes Castro – a memorably unique afternoon spent at her home, decorated in the Japanese style by her since deceased husband, artist Manuel Zimbro.
Inês Grosso and Rosa Lleó
André Romão (Lisbon, 1984) is an artist living and working in Lisbon. In 2019, Hatje Cantz published the catalogue of his exhibition, entitled Fauna, at the Museu Coleção Berardo. In 2007 he was awarded with the EDP Foundation New Artists Award.
Intro image: view of the exhibition “Um oásis ao entardecer – 20th Anniversary of the EDP Foundation Awards”. Photo by Bruno Lopes.
The exhibition Um oásis ao entardecer [An oasis at sunset] — a commemorative overview of the EDP Foundation awards’s last twenty years — is also a reaction to the current state of affairs. An unprecedented exhibition which brings together all the winning artists from the two awards, the New Artists Award and the Art Grand Prize, like Álvaro Lapa, Ana Jotta, André Romão, Artur Barrio, Carlos Bunga, Diana Policarpo, Gabriel Abrantes, Joana Vasconcelos, João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, Leonor Antunes, among others, curated by Inês Grosso and Rosa Lleó; with scenography by Diogo Passarinho Studio, and exhibition graphic design by ATLAS Projectos.
The great differentiation that mostly Chinese literature theorists do, and it somehow alludes to Lourdes, is that ghosts don't have shadows, but foxes do. That was the click I had for this work. Something that always fascinated me in Lourdes’ work was the ghostly presence these shadows have.