“I distribute these images
In front of me, as if upon a terrace. Around the edge of the porch,
the light with its enormous weight slips into moats. (…)
It is not possible to mark out the space
where I am. I was here and on the horizon. With lips
harvesting the bitter grains, and with a head
upon the dais. I reigned over the essence of things,
in my foreign presence, as I now understand
that I am in possession of complete data about
The smoky colors, the indecision of my place.
Hidden, the memory of landscapes painted throughout many years opens the space between
the lines of earth or the horizons which snake through the page, dividing it in a severe, yet
vital, manner: severe because it has become minimal and elementary; alive, because it is
organic, decided and decisive in its topographic inscription. The suspension of the places in the
upper, center or lower portion of the page determines the interior tonality which is delivered
to the gaze: floating, in perspective, or seeking some ground, respectively.
This is the first relational device we are presented with. It informs us about the surrounding
areas, about the origin of the traces, but above all it asks us for differentiated and alternating
ways of receptivity — we do not feel in the same fashion the elevation, the projection, the
slope, the interruption, the whirling, the cornered plane, the prolonging or the small notation.
We do not pass unscathed from the open space to the geometric perimeter, from the straight
to the sinuous line, from the elevation to the spiral, from the rib and from the
anthropomorphic curve to the column and to the piece of wall, from the free gesture to the
A large graphite drawing maps the vocabularic development of this series: the distillation of
forms she pursues, and the restraint with which she uses the surface of the paper, both
contribute to maintain expressive freedom, informality, sequence, and filling. This is the
matrix, hardened perhaps by the simple black color of the pencil, of the large drawings in
1 Fiama Hasse Pais Brandão «As Cores de que se compõe a sebe desalinhada», in Área Branca, Lisbon:
Editora Arcádia, 1978.
which she works with dry colored pastels and in which the color liquefies those schematics,
softens the coordinates of place, transforming them into tenuous stains, almost transparent, a
thin skin on top of the tactile call of the paper, an appeasement.
The attic of a studio is forcefully the attic of a childhood, a place taken from fantasy and of the
“straightening up” of memory in which each roof tile or wooden brace, each aged floorboard
or visible fault is elevated to the condition of a clue, a secret mobilizer, pregnant with meaning.
In the case of the artist, the archetypal attic coincides with the real attic, that which the studio
really is or contains within, in a happy juxtaposition of circumstances: the spaces, the hidden
ceilings and corners, the skylight, the floating lines and the inclined planes, the zones of
shadow and of light, the small imperfections are a shelter, circumscription, surprise, defense,
prospection, contamination and real referent, but also a formal alphabet, a thermal and
chromatic suggestion, an imaginary impregnation.
The path drawn by the lines inhabits our gaze, they live in the body of our gestures and of the
chimera that draws the line, that stains (or cleans!) the paper as sensitively as these drawings,
big and small, tell us.
The rough stone from which one extracts that which will be precious figures, as a hypothesis,
another metaphoric area of this work: perhaps it would assist us in understanding the forms
which tend to be square or round, and which close and fill, which rectify, which remove them
from the space and from any chance of “landscape.” Their condition is radically abstract, the
black light encircles them or fills them, and their mass resolutely densifies their energetic
potential. The future of an unhewn stone is difficult to be signaled with clarity and we do not
know what is to be, what of it is inscribed in the “blocks” she draws for us.
The narrow beam of yellow light that crosses one of them has its origin in the spring that
appears to rise up from behind the houses and is a mountain, or a whale’s dorsal fin, a giant
wave, or just the sun. Whenever they are interior, the spaces open their secret atmosphere to
a dissolution of borders which exposes them to unexpected narratives, to burns, to low clouds,
fractures and fragmentation, but also to challenging isomorphisms, skeins in motion, currents
of air, joints, organic matter, corridors, windows, and (in)congruities.
In drawing, black is a routine, but it is also an assumption of the shadows and of a de-
structuring. When it is a surface, black is weight, it pushes down, it drowns and submerges;
when it is a line, black is a schematic, a notation, a direction, a cradle, a company, or a crack. It
calls out for the colors of fire from which its own ash is born, yet it may carry on alone in the
dugout trench of a perimeter, assuming a constructive takeover. “(…) the light with its
enormous weight slips into moats,” blue or golden, until it gets dark.
The drawing opens each image to a three-dimensional latency that pushes the surface to the
punctual welcoming of collage, of texture, of a sober experimentation on other materials –
wood, cardboard and K-line — or the definition of forms with fire: in one series, the artist
molds pieces of burnt K-line, holding back and searching out shapes which reproduce the holes
of the footboard, but they are, on their own, both a plea and the abstract alphabet of a
relation to a visible horizon, to the barrier which it constitutes.
This possibility of volume also exists in small objects that are normally not exhibited, but are
part of the journey that decides some of the drawings, in their way of being cracked and
striated. Fiama speaks of the “indecision of my place”; the artist portrays the indecision of
hers: a mobile geography which elevates a cocoon, a place that is secret to the condition of the
personal universe, without closing nor opening too much, making cautious bridges, provisory
horizons, “smoky colors”, a fantastical drift and an offering of small worlds made with a raised
hand and as Fiama says, “with a head upon the dais”.
Lisbon, 22nd of January, 2017, Leonor Nazaré