The politics of painting is the foundation of Pacheco’s practice, making painting the principal medium in which Pacheco’s works are conceived and his primary subject. Despite breaking with traditional modes of depiction and display, thus challenging the sacrality and hierarchy tied to classical painting, many of Pacheco’s works also bear a relation to motives derived from classical painting, num piscar de olhos, 2021 being no exception. Pacheco’s painting is inspired by two plates by Nicola da Urbino, a ceramist of the Italian Renaissance and pioneer of the Istoriato style, in which the whole surface of a plate or charger is devoted to a single representational scene. The two plates are devoted to the story of two mythological figures, Diana and Actaeon in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which tells of a man who happened to gaze upon the goddess while bathing. The outraged goddess ensures that Actaeon can never tell what he has seen, and turned him into a deer to be killed by his own hounds. Pacheco depicts the motive divided between two paintings, which are moving against each other. On one part of the painting, we see the transformation of Acteon, while on the other Diana bathing. Both paintings are being carried by contemporary figures, challenging thus the linearity of narrative, and the permanence of painting.
Pacheco’s appropriation of the motive, and its reference to Urbino’s plates, look at the construction and appropriation of subject matter throughout history. By borrowing motives from the history of painting, Pacheco looks at how the painterly gesture, the color pallet, composition, or fragmentation influences the construction of narrative and how images are depicted and perceived through time. By abstracting the motive from its initial context, enlarging, and distorting it, by removing some of its elements, or juxtaposing it against another image, Pacheco points to the impermanence of painting, where interpretation and a work’s reading is in constant flux. It is based on an associative chain, where one thing leads to another, and where content is created through rhizomatic structures, rather than through a linear approach to narrative.
Bruno Pacheco is based between London and Lisbon. His work has been exhibited at the 31st São Paulo Biennial, Sharjah Biennial, Culturgest (Lisbon), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art (Porto), Whitechapel Gallery (London) among other. His work is part of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – CAM (Lisbon), Fundação de Serralves (Porto), Kadist Art Fioundation (Paris), The UBS Art Collection (London), Van Abbe Museum (Eidenhoven), Sharjan Arts Foundation collection and the MCA – Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago collection, among other.