Afonso Tostes | Das Amarras

Das amarras

In his previous work, Tronco (2003), Afonso Tostes included a series of nine oil paintings dedicated to the imagery of blaze and bonfire, alluding to its ancestral use as a sign of communication among men. The seminal image of the fire had then been harvested from its remotest scene, its first painting, delineated by the words of Homer, from where the artist saw the outbreak of the image and idea of the flame as signal and announcement of the victory of the Greeks in Troy.

The visit paid to Homer unfolds henceforth into this new series, Das Amarras, composed by works that find in the Odyssey its greater motivation: the flames and torches that close the Illiad now give in to the continuity of the Homeric narrative, whose words disembark in a new scenery, carved between sky and sea, a scenery that (un)shelters Odysseus in his fortunes and misfortunes in the pursuit of the way of regressing home.

It is this scenario, so full of sky and sea, that the artist embraces in his painting, bringing it to the canvas in the form and in the order of distinguished blues. This is its background, in colors and shapes that the artist limits to the surface. But his art recognizes that the stories of Odysseus, tied to the thread of the words of Homer, are not exhausted in sea and sky: they demand that the one who is capable of narrating them be included in this landscape. Odysseus intermingles with it, contaminating it with his presence. He wants to return home. There await his wife, his son, his land. The absence of them nourishes his movements and his strength, and much more than the rudder, the oar, and the boat, it is his desire that guides the regress. Surrounded by sea and sky, Odysseus also has them against himself, and he launches himself above and below them, handling all the power of his ingenuity and of his art to overcome hem. If his desire is that what guides his journey, it is his tricks and inventions – his poetry – that are the tools that ensure his success.

Disengaged from this poetry, the poetry of the human, the scenery would not be complete. The quest of Odysseus is also the quest of Homer of revealing this poetry and how much it bears of dream and invention. In Afonso Tostes’ translation to Homer’s epic words, Odysseus’ reality is only fulfilled when its scenery is fulfilled, adding to the landscape the traits of his ingenuity and the marks of his art. This fulfillness is materially achieved adding to the surface of the canvas and to the technique of the painting a foreground that superimposes to the background, imposing to sea and sky the inevitable tricks of Odysseus. For not by sky and sea alone does man live: he deals with them, interferes, reacts, adds himself to them, leaving on the skin of everything the evidences of his art, the various invents of the “poly-artful” Odysseus. Mirror to the humane, he invents a way amidst nature, superimposing to it his ties, here translated as ropes, threads, carcasses, nets, knots, pieces of wood and vestiges of boats and boatmen, materials which the artist collected under the sky and by the sea, and that mirror the story of Odysseus and the history of men, the astuteness of his inventions and the skill of his hands.