All Titles are Wrong

Paulo Quintas


Since the late 1980s, Paulo Quintas (Ericeira, 1966) has developed a substantial, radically individual artistic trajectory, impervious to diaphanous trends or fads, which perhaps explains why his work has lacked the visibility it deserves.

This exhibition, which for the first time gives us access to three decades of work through a selection of around a hundred works, is intended to address this gap, demonstrating how since 1987 Quintas has developed a body of work based on the rarefaction of the image, where “digging” is as important as adding layers, faced with the uncertainty of the fate of interpretation and returning to the primordial act of painting. A radical painting of defiance.

In his various series, Quintas has explored various registers, including abstract expressionism, landscape, street signage, signs and geometry, using a wide range of techniques which he employs in a radically experimental and pictorial manner.

As a young man, photography was the first modality explored by Quintas and it is one to which he now returns with a unique production using digitalization techniques and the assembly of negatives of the early 1980s. Entitled Dilúvio, 12 de Novembro de 1983, Ericeira, the title denotes what the image portrays and when it was captured: almost abstract images of the coast of Ericeira after a storm.

For the artist, the titles are a kind of necessary evil that must be dealt with: “Life is an action. Like painting. Titles are captions for life. Derived words used for titles or synonyms for the purposes of naming things do not interest me. The title is a kind of summary and, today, summaries are wrong. Trump is very good at titles. Summaries are ambivalent” (PQ).

But this attitude towards titles from someone who, let’s make no mistake, is a compulsive reader, encloses another more profound and structural dimension of his art – the rejection of interpretation: “I consider my paintings to exist on the borderline of representation. Many of them are representations of the process: representations of trees, the sky, the sea; others are pure process exposed or presented in a certain way. My paintings are not simple, trivial objects. They are always unfinished objects. Looking within and looking outwards is the same thing. I prefer art that makes me digress to art that makes me represent” (PQ).

The name of the exhibition thus suggested itself with lapidary clarity: “All titles are wrong”; or we could say the exact opposite: all titles are right. The intention is to deliberately create a sense of discomfort with statements, naming, summarising, grand definitions and closed systems.

– Isabel Carlos, curator

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With text by
All Titles Are Wrong. Anthological Exhibition
Sara Antónia Matos, Isabel Carlos, Rui Chafes