‘Blind gallery’ is a term occasionally used in the study of ancient architecture to designate the simulation of balconies (or galleries) painted ilusionistically on the inner walls of, for example, Pompeiian villas. More than a title, the name chosen by Christopher Page can guide us not only in terms of the central concept of this show, but, by extension, shed light on his own way of poetic-creative process.
Initially, the term ‘blind gallery’ referred to a specific type of trompe l’oeil created by human technique to represent, on walls, spatial illusions destined to amplify the architectural spaces in which they were inserted, even if only through the visual. However, Page’s appropriation of the term redefines it using the current meaning of the word gallery - a space intended to accommodate art exhibitions.
Such redefinition proposed by the artist differs, therefore, from the initial one, restricted to the specific denomination of a style of mural decoration.
If the external face of his Blind Gallery is completely marked by traces of paint, fragments of text and other interferences left as evidence of previous exhibitions on the invisible surface of the never displayed verso of the museum panels, the interior of the gallery, on the other hand, is its radical counterpoint. The internal walls of the room (painted pink, blue, white and grey) and its external area comprise a large and unique expanded painting for the entire surfaces of the walls and beyond the limits of the abstract paintings integrated into the panels of this gallery created by Page.
Illusionist painting has a long history in the West. It goes back to Greco-Roman art. It fell into disuse in the middle ages and was reborn, thanks to the rediscovery of perspective in the Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries) and on to neoclassicism in the second half of the eighteenth century.
By abandoning perspective in favor of the two-dimensionality of painting, modernism consequently broke with the representation, focusing now on the planar materiality of the canvas (a process situated at the origin of the abstractionist tendencies - geometric and informal - of the first half of the twentieth century) and no longer on the theme represented within.
The pictorial production of Page, for reasons that we should not anticipate here, out of respect for the pleasure of its discovery by the visitor, combines two antithetical pictorial systems constituted by the European history of art: that of the thematic-illusionist representation and the planar rupture inaugurated by modernist abstract painting.
On these tensile frontiers shifts Christopher Page’s unique expansion of painting.
MAM Rio Curatorship
LAMB arts would like to thank everyone who has collaborated to make this exhibition possible:
MAM RJ, Instituto Inclusartiz (Rio de Janeiro) and The British Council.