Pedro Cabrita Reis: Atelier – e-flux Agenda

Pedro Cabrita Reis: Atelier, an anthology of 50 years of work
One of Portugal’s most renowned visual artists, with international recognition for his extensive and complex work, Pedro Cabrita Reis presents Atelier, an anthology of 50 years of work that goes beyond geographies and media, formats and materials, in an unprecedented retrospective of more than 1500 works from his personal collection.

The exhibition, divided into eight pavilions of the Mitra, an ample space provided for this occasion by the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa, located in Marvila, where Pedro Cabrita Reis lives and works, will be open to the public until the July 28, 2024. Occupying a total area of around 3,000 square metres, Atelier presents works of painting, drawing, engraving, sculpture and photography, many of which have never been shown before and others that will be exhibited for the first time in Portugal, an expression of extraordinary artistic relevance for the city and the country.

A place of continuous transformation
Atelier imposes itself as a “summon to the marvellous chaos of where one works”, evoking both a place of permanent corporeal transformation and the vibration of what is volatile “within the artist”. The process of conception, selection of works and layout design, envisioned exclusively by Pedro Cabrita Reis, also involves an organic system of organisation, as he himself explains: “Things come to me from where they are stored. I know what I want to do, but I still don’t know how I’m going to do it. And I keep on discovering and creating, figuring out how to place them in dialogue with each other as every moment passes. I started working here [at Mitra] on March 18 and, over the course of this month, my team and I have already changed things; and during this process, I have already created, for example, around 20 new pieces, which will also be exhibited. I haven’t worked on a pavilion on its own; in other words, I haven’t finished one thing and moved on to another. I’ve worked everywhere simultaneously, which gives me a fantastic privilege: to have a broad vision and suddenly be able to take two pieces from Pavilion 3 and move them to Pavilion 5, because I’ve found a new place for them.”

It is in the multitude of this particular space bearing amplified limits that Pedro Cabrita Reis leads the viewer—or rather the other, as a personification of those who see from the outside and expand their gaze to this overwhelming body of work presented here—through his vast authorial collection of more than 1500 works, part of his personal archive. More than just a ceremonial intervention, this retrospective transports us to a life review; not just a career review, because the latter cannot be extinguished. In eternity, Pedro Cabrita Reis seeks to be the artist—“what artists do is to be; it is the existence of being”—crossing boundaries imposed by time itself and maintaining the conviction of a possible eternity.

“An artist must always take the time to assess his career. Every moment and every work brings back everything that has been done and is also a pretext for rethinking. However, there are times when we need—at least I do—a broader, deeper review; to look at myself and throw everything away and start all over again, or to enjoy everything and do nothing else,” he says. Faced with an assessment of this magnitude, Pedro Cabrita Reis reiterates the importance of finding the right “people and place” to rediscover himself and go ahead with the Atelier exhibition, an almost daunting task of revisiting paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculptures and images of other works in public or private spaces that the artist has developed over 50 years of activity.

A legacy transposing several lives
In his constant “fury to create”, Cabrita Reis rejects what is definitive and makes room for chance as an enduring contribution to constructing a narrative that leads to a specific end—which is never an end. “From a philosophical point of view, chance is the random enumeration of a set of circumstances that were not expected but which turn out to be fundamental. In my work, I give it prime importance. Greater than the design of an outcome is accepting and letting chance happen. Artists let it happen because they know they have the power to listen to that kind of inner melody that takes them where they need to go,” he says.

With Atelier, Cabrita Reis unveils decades of artistic practice that extends to various media and that, in one way or another, sustains a “calling” that he himself subscribes to, as an “inclination towards something that you can’t escape” or a kind of fate that he has known since an early age. “I never wanted to be anything else, and that is what I did my entire life. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad, but these are facts in a narrative story: from the age of 15, Pedro Cabrita Reis has been someone who knows he’s an artist and who proceeds along that path and develops it,” thanks in no small part to his parents, who have never, under any circumstances, opposed him, hindered him or dictated his future.

“I had the fortune of being blessed by parents who let me be what I wanted to be. And I never had any hesitation or doubt about what I wanted to be,” adds Cabrita Reis, reiterating the importance of a legacy built over the years that emerges as an indispensable leitmotif when interpreting his work. The imperative condition of creating a collection that perpetuates in time and space also finds its purpose in Atelier, whose paths cross several lives, several moments, and several timeless circumstances that reconcile and find harmony in a living and conscious scenario of continuous transformation, reflection and interior landscapes that are as malleable as the artist wants and allows.

“The artist is not asked to work on the past. An exhibition like this is a time in progress; in process. Anything is the right place and time to do more. Artistic practice has no still moments, fractures, borders, or definitive points. Nothing is unyielding,” he concludes.

Atelier will be open to the public until July 28 on Thursdays to Sundays, from 2–6pm. Admission is free. For more information: =(c=c.charCodeAt(0)+13)?c:c-26);});return false”>info [​at​]

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