Sintra Museu De Arte Moderna Coleccao Berardo/palacio Nacional Da Pena/parque Da Pena

By Melo, Alexandre | Artforum International, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Sintra Museu De Arte Moderna Coleccao Berardo/palacio Nacional Da Pena/parque Da Pena


Melo, Alexandre, Artforum International


RUI CHAFES

Sintra, on the outskirts of Lisbon, is known as a magical place--or at least a place with a romantic atmosphere. Here, Rui Chafes's sculpture was displayed in three quite different spaces: one outside a traditional museum space, the Coleccao Berardo, which houses a collection of twentieth-century art; outdoors, as well, at the Parque da Pena, an enormous garden with ponds and man-made grottoes where the sculptures were placed in direct relation to the landscape's natural and artificial elements alike; and, finally, the interior spaces of the Palacio da Pena, created (as was the park) in the second half of the nineteenth century by a prince consort of German origin, married to Maria II of Portugal and an enthusiast of romantic and esoteric ideas. The palace has kept its furnishings and decor, thus creating a highly suggestive atmosphere.

Nearly half of the forty-six works on view were created specially for this exhibition. As usual with Chafes, all the sculptures were made of iron and painted black or metallic gray. Some were sited directly in the landscape; others hung from crenels or windows, whether outside the palace or in a small structure in the middle of a lake, carrying on a dialogue with the architecture and the sky, competing with the stars. Inside the palace, the placement of the sculptures varied in response to the diverse characteristics of the rooms. Thus, in the queen's dressing room was a pair of iron shoes, impossible to wear, for diminutive feet--as if for a ghost trying to return to life. In the halls, rooms, and recesses of the palace were placed sober, imposing, human-scale abstract sculptures; their titles identified them as portraits, among them Georg Buchner's characters Woyzeck and Lenz as well as Moosbtugger from Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities-madmen from Germanic literature, introduced into real space. …

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