A Malha

A Malha

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14 May – 12 July 2022
Inaugural Year

title: A Malha
invited artist: Isaque Pinheiro
invited writers: Fábio Gomes Raposo e João Silvério

The first edition of the project FACHADA inaugurates on the 14th of May between 16:00 and 21:00 at the headquarters of the art gallery .insofar, with the installation “A Malha” by the artist Isaque Pinheiro and texts by João Silvério and Fábio Gomes Raposo.

The “entrance” is free and will be open until July 12th, 2022.

A fair art?
an essay by Fábio Gomes Raposo

One of the fascinating things about art is, like law, it is subject to interpretation. No law has ever been written without the purpose of being read and interpreted, even if only literally; likewise, no work of art has ever stopped being a conjectural essay when being appreciated. Both art and law are in flux, misunderstood, ubiquitous disruptive, and cognitive manifestations of human nature. 

Interpretation can either substantiate the act of discovering the meaning of a certain sensorial exteriorisation, getting the right or wrong idea of what was created intentionally, or encompass the possibility of the interpreter not making any discovery, but being the one to develop its meaning, becoming an active, even integral, part of the creation. This is what happens for example when the Supreme Court of Justice decides a jurisprudential standardisation or when a curator writes a text about a certain art exhibition. In some, less common cases, there is only one way they can possibly be interpreted, while in others, the possibilities are as infinite as the imagination.

“A Malha”, the title of Isaque Pinheiro’s art exhibition, on display at the .insofar gallery, in association with ArtWorks, is made up of 155 sculptures and will inevitably take you to the conceptualisation of the complexities of justice, a metaphor for the application of the law in particular cases, but also the intricate network of people, rules, proceedings, courts, bodies and acts that form the justice system in Portugal. Each victim that makes a complaint, each defendant striving to gain their freedom, each court that judges, each worker that demands payment for their efforts, each company that collects a debt, each body that supervises an activity, each citizen that brings proceedings against a trader, each professional that fights for the implementation of rights, each voice that will not be silenced, each creator that claims the fruits of their labour for themselves, are the worthy and minute personification, each one of them, of the Rule of Law under which we live. But more than this, they are pieces of real lives, now sculpted on shirts, curiously enough, white-collared.

This is how, in an unusually natural way, each one of the sculptures in the exhibition refers to real proceedings taking place or that took place under Portuguese justice. The cases in question cover several areas of law, different courts or decision-making bodies operating in the sector, including a wide range of types of proceedings. Widely publicised cases and little-known ones. Some where hundreds of millions of euro are in question, others for only a few hundred euro. Some more complex and others settled out of court. Petty cases as well as other, repulsive ones. Some more easily understood by the general public, others, technically complex. Decisions that are reversed on appeal. Cases that involve economic giants and anonymous citizens. Because a portrait of justice will always be the most faithful portrait of a society.

The works are displayed on the façade, which could lead to an exploration of the many possible meanings of the word. Apart from its intrinsic originality, this circumstance makes the expository installation an art project aimed at the public space, accessible to all, continuously and without interruption, without any kind of discrimination, as is the case, or should be the case, with justice. Each right is only a right if it can be exercised.

Law should be the embodiment of justice as the first pillar in the perpetual construction of a social organisation model. If justice is blind, because it treats everybody equally, it can also be called into question, imposing on those scrutinising it the duty to gauge if it is objective, free, true, safe, regular, useful, moral and virtuous. Through the works now on exhibit, we are invited to proceed with this analysis in a more in-depth manner. The traditional representation of justice in the arts, through the commonly used symbols, such as the goddess, the blindfold, the scales, the sword and the hammer, is interrupted. The robes and gowns are metaphorically replaced by shirts that are as neat and tidy as they are frayed and ragged, in a fundamentally bold way, showing that beauty can even emanate from destruction. Because ideological power, even if indirect, but tangible, determinedly superimposes itself on all the other powers. If jurisprudence is filled with decisions related to art, such as those on copyright, in this expository exercise, it is justice that is called to defend itself before the arts.

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A mesh of white collars
an essay by João Silvério

In 2008, Isaque Pinheiro created a series of sculptures entitled “Colarinhos Brancos” [White Collars]. These pieces are streamlined representations of a white shirt that was folded prior to being placed in a drawer at home or for display in a shirt-maker’s or, to use a more current term, a “ready-to-wear” clothes shop. This reference to a generic mode of industrial production, adapted from the French “prêt-a-porter”, provides a counterpoint to the shirt-maker’s more exclusive bespoke shirt, and undergoes in Isaque Pinheiro’s work a reformulation of social meanings and concepts via a critical, political, sometimes derisory (and even imbued with powerful, yet subtle irony) approach.

These plaster sculptures are formally synthetic versions of their real-life model: a white square shape measuring roughly 45,5 cm per side, a vertical strip that suggests the front row of buttons and a precisely rendered collar. Everything has an austere whiteness, indicative of the neatness and exactness this piece of clothing is supposed to bring to the one who wears it. The model used for the sculptures is usually associated with a more formal (largely) masculine look: the white shirt with white collar. Such is the term the artist has chosen to name this series, putting to use, in a way that is structural to his artistic practice, an idiom or cliché, such as “white collar”, which is defined by the online Portuguese language dictionary Priberam as a descriptive for a “person who works in management or administration, in positions that do not entail physical work, and from whom a certain degree of formality in dress is required”. More recently, the artist has created another piece, a sculpture entitled “Branco Sujo” [Dirty White] (2016), using the same basic form as the previous one, but now on cast bronze. The adjective “dirty” combined with the image of the white-collar shirt conveys a critical stance regarding the subject and its various correlations.

In 2021 I wrote a text about his 2020 piece, “Produção Caseira” [Home-made], in which I mentioned another work of his, “Vendo País para comprar casa” [I wish to sell my Country to buy a house] (2019), in which “a critical and satirical play on economic values” is quite present, thus taking a reactive stance while drawing attention to the levels of social injustice and inequality that affect us all to some degree, but which we simultaneously accept as an assumption that is part of the status quo of our everyday life. “Vendo País para comprar casa” consists of twenty-eight marble plaques, engraved in low-relief as though they were tombstones: in each one of them is written an economic link between horizontal property and the price of a stay at a hotel, as well as a depreciated evaluation of mortgage value. These instances provide just a few possible reference points for situating Isaque Pinheiro’s artistic practice in formal and conceptual terms, as reflected in “A Malha” [The Mesh], a piece that is exposed to the public view on this gallery’s façade. “A Malha” is a large, composite work whose first stage of production took place in an industrial complex, using a mould created by the artist that is based on the 2008 sculpture “Colarinhos Brancos”, but with a substantial difference: it is now a series of individual sculptures, each of them finished by the artist himself, which come together in the gallery’s front as an architectural relief that at first glance may resemble a modernist mural. However, a more careful look at the piece reveals that this mural is like a sequence of figures inscribed into each element of the installation marked by the white-collar shape, essentially by means of the violent action that strips away the corporeality of each one of those elements. In this manner, “A Malha” is also an expressive strategy that the artist employs to disrupt our certainties concerning what we see and how we see.

One of this work’s defining features is a change in texture and volumetry that lends it a certain degree of movement, taking into consideration its geometrically precise grid. At a first glance, its title may refer to the mesh of the orthogonal grid that defines the installation’s set-up, and at a second one to something that is not immediately visible: the iron mesh that emerged after each sculpture had been hammered out, stripping away, as previously mentioned, the internal structure of each piece. In this physical action, Pinheiro defines a relation between the gesture and the word that, besides describing the gesture as both process and result, also includes the polysemy of the vocable and its condition of possibility as a linguistic process. In this manner, the artist develops a differentiation on the formal observation of the work, making it in part a factual, objective observation of the construction of this work through one word: the mesh. However, on another level this piece reactivates a critical assumption that is not immediately recognisable, by connecting each white collar figure with a list of judicial proceedings that the general public may consult upon request. In other words, each sculptural element is associated to the number or description that identifies each one of those proceedings. That listing can only be consulted together with the list of the works that make up the whole exhibition.

Let us now return to 2008’s “Colarinhos Brancos”, in order to understand a correlate of relationships that are more coherently developed in “A Malha”, in all their critical and political complexity, and in a variety of generic forms that are usually common knowledge, like the notion of “white-collar crime”, a term that is also part of juridical parlance, as can be seen in the definition below, one of many possible ones: “The concept of white-collar crime became widely known through Sutherland’s work, during the late 1930s. The rich and powerful had been engaging in criminal pursuits long before that; however, there was little perception of such behaviours, because the dominant view was that criminality was associated to poverty and all the other factors linked to this unfavourable financial condition”.

This project by Isaque Pinheiro is indicative of a continued concern with social and material issues of the society in which we live; these issues have influenced his work, namely in terms of the return to large scale works that exist in the public space, as well as of the use of language and other semantic and statistic devices. On the other hand, the installation on the gallery’s façade confronts us with an ambiguous and paradoxical stance, in the sense that each one of these sculptures is evocative of the presence of a body, intensifying the public exposure of the white collar’s symbolic figure, which, though it may perhaps not be immediately associated to dubious social conduct, still has a symbolic grip on our collective memory. Regarding this, Pinheiro defines a double play, somewhere between satire and criticism, confronting some social conventions, which are often generalist and based on falsehoods, prejudices and ignorance, with certain offences that are often the target of a seemingly defamatory logic in which material evidence is hard to discern, and thus almost invisible, as is the case with the listing that, though associated to the installation on the façade, demands a specific request to be consulted.

In Isaque Pinheiro’s oeuvre, language is an essential tool in terms of the use of metaphor, or even hyperbole, as a figure of speech that is associated with a form and transcription of reality that is not always readily comprehensible.

João Silvério

1 “Colarinho-branco”, Dicionário Priberam da Língua Portuguesa [online], 2008-2021, https://dicionario.priberam.org/colarinho-branco

2 Cf. Bruna Hernandez Borges, “Os Crimes de Colarinho Branco e as (des)vantagens da Justiça Restaurativa”, Master’s Degree Dissertation in Criminal Law, University of Coimbra, 2017, p. 14.

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invited artist profile

Isaque Pinheiro (Portugal, 1972)

An artist’s biography is something that is developed over time and can manifest itself as parallel to the work, a right and a poetic freedom. In the case of Isaque Pinheiro, born in 1972 in Lisbon, we can reinforce the idea of the biography, as something designed and constructed. A continuous chain of experiences and affects, between the reality of his daily life, his own doubts and fascinations. We could even identify countless “markers” of his experience, through different elements, as the statements by other artists and friends who populate his life, as the the cities where he has lived and worked.

Regarding his artistic practice, we can clearly see that he is an artist who explores different means, revealing a continuous and restlessness intertwining of classical and contemporary issues supported by a critical reflection and assisted by a technical mastery, which is quite uncommon on current times.

more about the artist   Bio | CV

invited writers profile

João Silvério

João Silvério holds a Master of Curatorial Studies from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon. Currently, he is the associate curator of the PLMJ Foundation’s contemporary art collection.

In 2003, he began his activity as an independent curator and in 2007, he founded the independent curatorial project EMPTY CUBE which has shown projects by artists, designers and architects – www.emptycube.org. He was President of the Portuguese Section of AICA – International Association of Art Critics, from March 2013 to December 2015. In 2019, he creates the independent publisher EMPTY CUBE_reader which launched the first edition with a work by the artists Musa paradisiaca. In 2021, he participated in the RAMA project Residences for Artists, Maceira, Portugal. João Silvério regularly writes about artistic projects in catalogues, publications and websites, among which www.emptycube.org.

Fábio Gomes Raposo

Graduated in Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon, where he is currently completing his master’s degree in Corporate Law. Also has an advanced postgraduate’s degree in M&A and Corporate Litigation from the same Faculty and a specialisation in human resources management from the Polytechnic University of Madrid.

He has been a lawyer since 2011 and has dedicated his practice specially to corporate law, contract law, intellectual property, private investment, and litigation, in various jurisdictions. He is currently an associate lawyer in Broseta Portugal and his experience also includes law firms such as Gameiro e Associados and António Quelhas da Costa e Isabel Calisto.

For several years, he has been an arts enthusiast, in its triple dimension: legal, conceptual, and sensorial.


Project Manager
Hugo Carvalho

Artistic Director
Inês Valle

Invited Artist
Isaque Pinheiro

Essays about “A Malha”
João Silvério
Fábio Gomes Raposo

Partner/ Production

Studio Manager / 
Ana Carvalho

Project Assistant
Laura Balmant

Graphic Design
Inês vH Perez

Photo & Video
Ana Magro

Advising council
Fábio Gomes Raposo


Rua Capitão Leitão 53
1950-050 Marvila – Lisboa

14 May-12 July 2022

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A Malha

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