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Two strong ideas stand at the origins of this series of drawings and prints: the first comes from the universality of the traits of human physiognomy to seek out the singularity of a unique face; the second seeks to show the inhumane violence against women.  

Catarina started painting faces on acrylic but they did not seem individual enough to her, only collections of shapes; the painting, she says, bore a grudge against the fragility of the drawing.  When starting to draw, she “looked again” and went back to a new beginning.  She experimented with paper, above all using different glues and Japanese paper; she let different things happen, which then made up the process.

At first she thought of making “portraits in the garden” and branches appeared that split genealogically into other branches and flow on endlessly.

When she saw the faces of the men and women of the tribes of the River Lomo in Ethiopia painted white, yellow, pink, the distance between black and white faded away and the familiarity, the sequence of things became more apparent.  

Vegetable paper was the favoured means for recreating these skins and these incarnations.  Printing is the perfect medium for approaching negatives, shadows, the evanescence of the face - our most vulnerable identity.  

Catarina says that, in drawing, she had the clear sensation of making the very skin of her creations and “there were faces that stared at me so deeply, they scared me.”  In fact, being looked at head-on is what most calls us together and what intimidates us most; here, above all, where, in some portraits, that gaze seems to come straight at you but actually, in the end, is redirected back in to itself.

“These people are really in silence”, says Catarina, “The silence that lies deep within people who cannot do anything, who are powerless.  All of them have an expression of sad dignity.”



Luísa Costa Gomes