memories, or even the vague echoes of memory (…)
ending in trying an equally unreal task, that is to say, to
embody memory, so that it substitutes the present before your eyes?"
"The artist's studio is the sacred spot in the process, of the coming into being, which may or may not turn into a work of art. It is a space which the artist at times shares, and other times prefers to keep hidden from other eyes, while the work is still emerging.
There are artists who recreate the same work throughout their whole life, and their studio acts as a portrait of their obsessions: the objects scattered to the corners, papers spread around, books, canvases and other materials, each reflecting its function in that space, which is, in the end, about creation and new beginnings.
Rodrigo Bettencourt decided to freeze the moment of silence which reigns in other artists' studios, before the work of art is born. When only the potential of it is there, and it may or may not come to life.
As he says himself, "I am an observer, who pretends he is not there, pretends the others are the same as me, condemned to something, though we are not sure what it is."
Like the myth of Sisyphus, artist and photographer come together in a perpetual movement, always searching for something that escapes, that is invisible, but which both, in their thirst for exposure, want to reveal, to bring to light, and give life to as an object of creativity.
“This work starts from the idea of the creative moment, the moment and place where the work of art is born." In shying away from the portrait, Rodrigo Bettencourt tries to capture the ineffable, that which does not yet exist. Which is the place where everything begins and also where the work may stay trapped for ever, if it doesn’t respond to the greater calling of bringing to light that which the artist wants to show.
The studio is a place of learning and of production - creation connected to a gesture. The materials appear and mingle with the works which will result from them. The photographer captures an idea, more than the space, because what we see is not represented in the photo, even though it is present in what it intends to be: a moment which lasts so that the memory of the creative gesture doesn’t fade.
In the story “The Adventure of a Photographer,” Italo Calvino narrates the misfortunes of a young man in love, who tries obsessively to catch/capture his loved one.
The first time she poses for him, Antonino has a revelation: "There are many possible photographs of Bice and many Bices who are impossible to photograph, but what he was seeking was the unique photograph that would contain the former and the latter."
The reason Rodrigo Bettencourt chose to photograph is also multi-faceted and the vision from his camera helps us to unravel a part of these faces.
The rest is that which the camera does not capture, but which the artist captures, with huge capacity for synthesis and great delicacy: that indescribable moment in the act of creation."
Miriam Tavares, Faro, 2016
"Rodrigo has come through many journeys and many sounds.
In the midst of sounds he creates and he photographs: pure, dirty, noisy art, captured raw.
In a whirlwind of noise, with the discovery of tropical ghosts, he filled and complemented the empty space during his residency at Espaço Vazio do Largo das Artes, during the month of June this year, 2017.
He took up his place there, absorbing the hospitality and that stranger's space. He kept this undefined space within him and let it grow.
It was a new, tropical, landscape, enveloping and breathing the artist in…
A strange intimacy with something unknown, which draws one in without drawing to any conclusion. From there comes the creative flow: displaying and asserting the self, as an admired presence, onto what is almost invisible.
From Rodrigo's camera, there comes a new wave of the urgency of what is invisible, recreating and presenting a new world or a world anew.
By means of tiny inlets of creativity, the invisible remains of the world start to assume a new, subjective, objectivity.
Each one's work being created.
The self under renewal.
A vision of history revised.
Chiado in Lisbon.
There, were they are no longer.
Where they were.
From where they see.
In transition they transport and create
the work of art.
A new Portugal launches itself once more on the seas,
beyond the seas,
guided this time by its ghosts, who take the role of creative pathfinder.
A new Lisbon objectivity?
It is not only with words and verbs, but with fabric, gestures, texts and empty spaces that stories, and the stories of history are told:
A canvas, a piece of music, a risk, a fact,
Fate, lost between ghosts, reveals itself mysteriously in the act of creation.
Caught only in disguise
as they are revealed, clearly, in the art.
energy in transit.
with no destination
The artist slips up before the camera,
An eye which sees the invisible and retells history.
From the dark camera, the invisible emerges
in shape, doesn't form,
Fright and unfamiliarity
A renewing force for a Lisbon,
which begins to recognise its ghosts: beings,
bearers of power, of the truth rediscovered in empty space:
in the lacunas of a story that was
– oh, the illusion –
clear and straight.
So a new creative life is opened, with its exiled ghosts.
Emerge/move in a space of creation.
Ghosts are present.
Vague figures...from a lost past."
Rio de Janeiro, 2018