A central concern in Bruno Pacheco’s practice is painting’s mimetic potential. This manifests conceptually through subject matters that interrogate the history of representation within painting as well as the limits of pictorial illusion, and formally through a practice characterised by the repetition of the same motif over a number of works. From ordinary motifs to classical references, Pacheco creates numerous paintings from one subject of focus, ranging from fungi to wetsuits, canonical murals to historical tapestries. This involves a process of ‘neutralisation’ where figure and ground appear collapsed, destabilising the visual hierarchies of the illusory perspective.
Pacheco’s most recent suite of paintings is titled In a flash (2022). Within each painting is another painting, variously handled and moved by a peripheral figure. The compositions of these works within the works are taken from majolica plates, with narratives related specifically to metamorphosis: Daphne and Apollo, Andromeda and Perseus, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. As decorative commodities which sample historical painting, majolica plates index a crafted counter-history, lifting compositions for ornamental reproduction. These scenes from majolica plates become a lens through which Pacheco articulates the very process of transformation in painting: using compositional rigour, paint handling and colour variance. Each painting composes a mise en abyme, embedding images-within-images that invoke meta-reflections on the medium of painting itself. The slippage in the boundaries between the marginal figures and the delimited paintings diffuse into one whole yet enigmatic image. Though seemingly indistinct, these soft and subtle compositions are exacting in their premise of depicting the very subject of transformation.
Marvel, 2019-2020, depicts art handlers moving a painting, The Dream of St Mark, c. 1570, by Domenico Tintoretto, in which an angel is shown in dramatic movement, hovering above St Mark in slumber. Two other paintings are also present in the scene, Jacopo Tintoretto’s St Mark Saving a Saracen, 1562–1566, and Translation of the Body of St Mark, 1562–1566, both of which depict one body moving another. Pacheco’s painterly treatment of the bodies and spaces, however, directs focus away from the precise details of the event toward the gestures and movements evoked by the scene.
In Boletus, 2018-2020, numerous mushroom-like forms are depicted clustered together and isolated in an anonymous space. This presentation evokes a group portrait, both for the gregarious cluster formation of the vegetal forms and the artificiality of the vibrant ground.
EXHIBITIONS at Hollybush Gardens
Essay by Omar Kholeif, in Vitamin P3: New Perspectives in Painting (Phaidon, October 2016)
Essay by Ulrich Loock, in Bruno Pacheco: Mar e Campo em três momentos (Casa das Historias Paula Rego, 2012)
A love story [Uma história de amor]
Essay by Bruno Marchand (Espaço Chiado 8, 2011)
Trial Balloons: Bruno Pacheco’s work in five chapters
Essay by Pablo Lafuente, in Bruno Pacheco (Galeria quadrado Azul, Porto, Portugal, 2006)
Bruno Pacheco (b.1974, Lisbon, Portugal) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal and London, UK. He studied painting at the Lisbon School of Fine Art and at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he received an MFA in 2005.
Recent solo exhibitions include The Intruder’s Lot, Hollybush Gardens, London (2023); uptight, Appleton, Lisbon; One two, left right, Galeria da Casa A. Molder, Lisbon (both 2022); Borrasca, Pedro Cera, Lisbon (2021); ONE, ampersand, Lisbon (2020); head (red) hand, Hollybush Gardens, London (2019); Vaivém, Galeria Quadrum, Lisbon (2018); and Red was the Tone, Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon (2016). He has participated in numerous significant group exhibitions internationally including Between glances, (un)common encounters, Centro de Arte Moderna Gulbenkian and the Alcântara Library, Lisbon; Dark Safari, Coleção de Arte Contemporânea do Estado, Museu do Côa; Neglected: Works from the Norlinda and José Lima Collection, Centro de Arte Oliva, São João da Madeira (all 2023); Les Péninsules démarrées, Frac Nouvelle-Aquitaine MÉCA, Bordeaux (2022); Bodies in Space, Mirror Gallery, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth; Itinerarios XXVI, The Centro Botín, Santander, Spain (both 2021); Unsettled Objects, Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah (2021); Leaving the Echo Chamber, Sharjah Biennial 14 (2019); The Making of Modern Art/The Way Beyond Art, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, Netherlands (2017); Portugal Em Flagrante, Coleção Moderna, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal (2017); Nature Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still Life, Guildhall Art Gallery, London (2017); How to (…) Things That Don’t Exist, an exhibition developed out of the 31st São Paulo Biennial, Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal (2014); and 3rd Beijing International Art Biennale (2008).
His work is held in the collections of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, USA; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, the Netherlands; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal; National Art Museum of China, Beijing; and UBS Art Collection, London, among others.