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a garden at night, 2020

Rampa, porto


Interview with Eduarda Neves for Contemporânea (November, 2020):


 José Costa, 2020

   Tiago Madaleno’s A Garden at Night explores the symbolic dialogue that exists between two figures, Kurt Schwitters and Harry Pierce, and the allegorical potential of the element that unites them, the garden.


   As a child, in his hometown of Hanover, the German artist Kurt Schwitters was the victim of a tragic event when his garden was destroyed by a group of children from his neighborhood. In shock, Schwitters began to dance maniacally, in a misplaced performance. That dance was actually “Saint Vitus’ dance”, a neurological disorder that affects its carriers in times of great stress, and that left him bedridden for about two years. During the recovery, Schwitters dedicated himself to drawing and painting, which, eventually, led him to an artistic career.

   While working on his garden, the English landscape designer Harry Pierce decided to quickly get rid of the weeds that plagued the field by setting fire to a small portion of land. However, a change in the wind’s direction made the fire run wild, burning down the garden that was already cultivated.

   In 1946, both stories intercepted. Exiled in England and struggling financially, Schwitters used to paint portraits and landscapes as his breadwinner. When Pierce saw a portrait of his doctor made by Schwitters, he decided to order a portrait of himself. During the painting sessions, a friendship between the two built up. In such a way, that Pierce agreed to lease him an old gunpowder shed that existed in the garden he was working on, so that Schwitters could use it as a studio in the last years of his life.

   Sometimes synchronized, others out of sync, Schwitters and Pierce’s stories are mirrored, filled with coincidences. The cherish for Nature; the fascination with the quest for a fusion between human gesture and the organic flow of nature; their confrontation with the lack of control when witnessing the destruction of their gardens, suggest a symbolic juxtaposition that grew with their encounter and through the reappearance of the Garden in Schwitters’ life.


   Taking the garden as an expanded concept, A Garden at Night develops through the appropriation and recontextualization of narrative fragments taken from Kurt Schwitters and Harry Pierce’s life. Proposing a dialogue between body and landscape, the garden appears in this project as an ambiguous symbol: between the unbearable, sublime and paradisiacal dream and the predisposition for chaos; between the attempt to master and the inability to stop the turmoil.

In the video Silhouette of a Stranger, we find a narrative voice that changes into several images of an impossible garden, establishing a dialogue with the sound piece Red Shoes, through a restless bond between body and landscape, revealing the tension between form and inform, the choreographic structure and the fluidity of dance. Transforming and redirecting attention, it is in the interception between light and shadow that Weeds grows in the dark. Just in the middle of the continuous loop of the exhibition, when everything seems to point to a conclusion, a fleeting moment of textual incandescence appears, dialoguing with the space.

   In these intersections between stories of affinity and lack of control, the body dances until it is merged with the landscape, and then, the landscape finally becomes performance.  //

honeymoon, 2019

Appleton square, lisbon


 António Olaio, 2019

  Tiago Madaleno starts from the possibility of having a head detached from a body. Being Descartes’ head, particularly, it will be certainly a material head, but not one in which the materiality has its greater expression.

  This condition of separation from the body reminds us of a materiality that we forget our heads have, especially if we were philosophers...

  Of course, that a head without a body will certainly correspond to a body without a head. But let us leave that body floating somewhere outside this text (even if it haunts it, inevitably).

  A head that, with or without body, has in its memory the fact that Descartes (as Tiago Madaleno tells us) was fond of putting his head in the oven to think clearly.

  This is a bizarre and challenging story in the consequences it might have in the study of Descartes thinking. Here even more, by assuming other way of presentation, in the context of fine arts.

  By announcing this fact, the artist opens through his artistic condition, a whole field of possibilities of relation that, once released, have an indomitable reach.

 This exhibition is presented now, and it is, obviously, on its current experience that we can develop our perception of the story.

  When we imagine a head inside an oven, drawing from our experience with ovens (as our domestic experience), we tend to imagine a head inside a confined orthogonal space.

  Being the head of a philosopher, we can imagine it as a container of thought that by being heated increases exponentially its tendency of becoming unconfined to that narrow limits. A head that will, inevitably, explode.

  It will explode, projecting its pieces through the Space, in all directions. But this Space has limits and this head expands, stabilizing as it is shaped by the orthogonal form of the oven containing it (and that detains its expansion).

  Recalling the title of this exhibition, we might say that this Space is orthogonal as a room.

  Fortunately, the honeymoon rooms, desirably orgasmic, once they fulfill that desire, they remain orthogonal, but they forget that they are.  //