The works of the Portuguese artist Santiago Ribeiro, born in Coimbra and creator of the international project Surrealism Now, with the support of the Bissaya Barreto Foundation, paralyze the gaze, to the point of composing the reality of silence and absence, so that the elements often considered insignificant, take on a secret and a value of their own, letting our mind make further dream associations. It seems that we go in search of the phantom of sleep in Ribeiro’s work, creating a language where the individual and matter go beyond their own anatomy, digging into their desires and opening the hinges to the spaces of an absent morality, playing with ours pulses.
Ribeiro’s surrealist art does not differ from that of Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism: “Starting from the dream, from the oneiric dimension, a neutral temporal dimension, devoid of past or future planning, is created in this state, inhabiting reason as well as the mad live. With its own rules, with visions that ostracize reality “. In short, the usual is avoided and so does Ribeiro by intensifying psychic automatisms by showing them as a fundamental part of history, made up in part by obsessions, within which men move naked and blind. Ribeiro, while he creates, observes the vocations and the unconscious of men, gives them shape and color, is a spectator aware of the danger of the liberation of his unconscious, of the drives, of the dark side of himself and finds pacification on the canvas, representing a parallel world made of clear material but also of ironic and critical awareness. In this sense, Ribeiro more than Salvador Dalí, refers to Max Ernst with regard to the concentration of art as liberation and play, a terrain where psychic temporal incursions can be made, showing what would be seen if man were free of morality, of self-control and at the same time, illustrating the concerns, manias and deepest inconveniences of modern society and its collective behavior.
Annalina Grasso: How is the Surrealism Now project progressing in these difficult times?
Santiago Ribeiro: In reality, the project stopped and remained on “standby” when we decided to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its birth. But like almost everyone around the world we anticipate the next show in 2021 and celebrate the 11th anniversary of Surrealism Now, the space team, the Art Center of the city of Figueira da Foz would like to create our show from February 13 to May 23 next and it’s good news for all of us. We await developments … then we will see
How should art tell this historical moment?
I don’t really know how to answer you, but I think that artists must make their art with feeling and will create works on this historical event, on which we can only express judgments in the future.
How to rethink exhibitions, spaces and galleries?
We can do this with the rules appropriate to the scientific council and also as artists we can create new spaces having science as a guide. Few people at a time in separate groups with ventilated and more spaced places.
This art, according to the Surrealism Manifesto, aspires to an imagination devoid of social and moral implications where the dream becomes the principle of all research. How is its movement distinguished and what does it add new to the “old” surrealism?
You said everything in your question. The dream and the imagination should be completely free without constraints of any kind. Only then will it be possible to progress towards a more balanced society by showing how to create, in total freedom of thought and ideology.
Being based only on the imagination, freeing the subconscious, can it be harmful at some point in your opinion?
Yes it can be, and because as you know the subconscious contains inexplicable aspects of our personality that can go against the established “system” in which we are inserted, in it we live.
In which country has your movement been most successful?
I have no elements to answer because we now live with the Internet and can build a large community with many countries within it, so I think globally and not as a specific geographic region.
So is man worth something not only when he is awake?
Our existence is made up of a set of many things and when we are awake our personality appears and demonstrates what we experience not only in the conscious but also in the subconscious. What we dream of is often the relationship with daily experience. So they bring together two worlds, the real of everyday life and the unreal of the subconscious that give us images that only through art can we identify, or rather, have a little idea of what goes beyond the explainable.
What are time and reality for you?
Time and reality show us how small we are in the face of all the enormous and infinite universal nature as we know it so far. We are so fragile as living beings. Humanity as the more knowledge it has the stronger it will be but never as strong as nature. Thinking about myself, I have the feeling of absolving nothing, when I look at the sky or everything around me … I feel so small.
Santiago Ribeiro, Humanity, oil con canvas, 100 x 80 cm, 1997
Santiago Ribeiro, Neo, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm, 2001
Santiago Ribeiro, Another Dimension, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm, 2001
Santiago Ribeiro, Military Concentration Camp, oil on canvas, 100 x 900 cm, 1990
Santiago Ribeiro, Space Time, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm, 2001
Journalist, blogger and social media editor from Campania. i graduated in literature and philology and I gained a master in art and organization of cultural events. I love cinema, art, music, literature, especially Russian, French and Italian. I read a lot, both narrative and non-fiction. I share Picasso’s thoughts on art: “Art helps us to recognize the truth”.