In tribute to the life and work of painter Nikias Skapinakis (1931-2020, Lisbon), recently deceased, the Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos decided to highlight Paisagem do Vale dos Reis XLVI (Apologia da Natureza) [Landscape of the Valley of the Kings XLVI (Apology of Nature)], 1993, a work acquired directly from artist in January 1984. The painting was displayed for the first time in the exhibition Parafiguração at Galeria 111, that same year, and was part of three anthological exhibitions on the artist – Centro de Arte Moderna da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1985, Museu de Serralves, 2000, and Museu Berardo, 2012 – thus asserting its importance in the artist’s body of work.
It is a series of about 85 paintings and drawings on the Valley of the Kings created over the 1980s. The series, which began during the artist’s trip to Egypt in 1979, brings the concept of Parafiguration, he had worked on in the previous decade, to a second juncture. In brief, while emphasizing the process of pictorial construction – namely, in colour cutouts, collage of informal shapes and visual fragments –, this concept denies the starting point, the referent and the result. Skapinakis' paintings thus become abstract compositions that challenge the landscape genre "not by mimicry but by taking a stance." (SILVA, p.32). In this sense, “we witness a new spatial vision conveniently set up after the creation of an “ambiguous space (…)” (FRANÇA, p.62), and “(…) from then on, his painting takes on an effortlessness, a pictorial continuum, indebted to multiple references of the arts and of reality.” (RODRIGUES, p.25).
The painting Paisagem do Vale dos Reis XVI (Apologia da Natureza) is a “mannerist exercise of great visual impact” (PERNES, p.24). The persistence and resilience of Skapinakis’ painting incorporates an element of deep research into the reality it portrays. In the “transfiguration of the decoration of the tombs of the Egyptian pharaohs from internal to external, unlimited, landscape” (LAPA, p.29), we discover an abstract relation that is associated with the problem of painting and whether or not it is detrimental to the reality it represents. Thus, “an attempt is made to find a sense of structure in the surface of the picture, which no longer coincides with Nature to which the painter refers as a quote.” (ALMEIDA, 1990, p.16). “Although this is about landscapes that do not exist, although the abstract sense that hovers over them is quite evident in the treatment of matter and in the definition of space, they are, as far as I am aware, so imbued of a sense of what is real that it prevents them from appearing as abstract paintings.” (SKAPINAKIS, p.24).
160 x 180 cm