paulo catrica photographs

Paulo Catrica


June 29 - August 14, 2010
Reception: Saturday July 17, 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

93 Ossington Avenue, Toronto, Canada

Viewing Hours: Monday - Saturday, 2:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

[ Google Map ]


OPERA: Photographs of the São Carlos Theatre, Lisbon (2005-2009)


Circuit Gallery is pleased to present eleven large format photographic works from Paulo Catrica's OPERA project. This is the Portuguese artist's first solo exhibition in North America, and Circuit Gallery's second exhibition at Böhmer.

In a series of exquisite pictures taken inside the Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, the home of the Portuguese National Opera in Lisbon, Paulo Catrica allows us to look behind the scenes at the working spaces of this historical theatre.

Devoid of people or action, and deceptively straightforward, Catrica's photographs seem, at first glance, to concern themselves with presenting the non-public (non-performance) spaces of this heritage building—offering us, as viewers, a privileged look at old theatre rigging, the workings of the clock featured on the main façade, the empty auditorium from the stage, the storage and rehearsal rooms, and so forth.

While presenting, indeed documenting, the interior of São Carlos in this way, Catrica's photographs are less interested in these "backstage" spaces or the architecture as such, as they are in what has and is happening in them. Despite their objective "emptiness" the spaces Catrica presents are inhabited by both people and history.

The presence and industry of people and the past are powerfully evoked—conjured at the piano or the workshop table. The tension between past and present are pronounced in plastic wrapped chandeliers, and the juxtaposition of a calendar girl and an 18th century portrait, but they are undeniably palpable elsewhere. They are the subject of these images (and, in a profound sense, that of photography itself).

Catrica embarked upon this project between 2005 and 2009, at a time of economic stress which resulted in the trend toward the wholesale acquisition of larger European co-productions. As he says these photographs were taken "at a time when the building was undergoing significant changes," and when, in effect, the "working spaces of S. Carlos [were becoming] obsolete or un-used."

Paulo Catrica, Lfc 450 1/8/2006 15:07hrs f32/4 sec., 2006

Paulo Catrica, Lfc 450 1/8/2006 15:07hrs f32/4 sec., 2006

Paulo Catrica, Lfc 451 1/8/2006 16:05hrs f45/2 sec., 2006

Paulo Catrica, Lfc 451 1/8/2006 16:05hrs f45/2 sec., 2006

Paulo Catrica, Lfc796 5/1/2009 16:45hrs f64/2:00 min., 2009

Paulo Catrica, Lfc796 5/1/2009 16:45hrs f64/2:00 min., 2009

Paulo Catrica, Lfc514 11:00 to 11:12hrs f32/12 min., 2006

Paulo Catrica, Lfc514 11:00 to 11:12hrs f32/12 min., 2006

See more works by Paulo Catrica available through Circuit Gallery.


Artist Statement

O P E R A - 2005 - 2009

This series proposes a cartographic reading of the S.Carlos Theatre, in Lisbon, home of the Portuguese National Opera. It was made between July 2005 and January 2009 at a time when the building was undergoing significant changes. As such, most of the places pictured no longer exist anymore.

Not merely intent to document and "fix" the place before impending change, these photographs, in their ability to slow our way of looking at things, propose a hypothetical narrative which emphasizes the contemplative and comparative aspects within each image and between them. In this case they strengthen and contrast the relationship between the different kinds of spaces/places of the theatre—between the representational, essentially public places (the foyer or the main room depicted from the stage) and the working areas (the backstage, the dressing rooms, the storage rooms, the mechanism that holds the main chandelier or the back of the clock on the main façade).

Depicted during a transitional phase these workshops and storage areas can be seen as suffering from the impact of the new economic scale schemes which map contemporary cultural production. In fact, all the major opera productions are nowadays co-productions between different European theatres which in essence have made the working areas of S.Carlos obsolete or un-used.

Part of a larger series, which includes thirty photographs, these pictures should be understood as fragments of the place, tangential to the subject itself. Roland Barthes referred to the photograph as a ‘temporal catastrophe’, as the rescue of past events and their confrontation with the present. These photographs seek to explore the ambiguity of that statement: confronting an historic object, the Theatre, with its present condition (2005/2009), which is also past. Photographs are always past occurrences, therefore they maintain a strange bond with History. Whereas in fact they should be perceived in the present as memory events.


Artist Bio

Paulo Catrica is a Portuguese photographer currently living in London. Since 1998 his work has regularly been exhibited in Europe: Portugal, Spain, Finland, UK, France, Greece, Belgium, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovakia. His work is in numerous public and private collections in Europe, including the Siemens UK Art Collection, the Museum of London, the Colecção Nacional de Fotografia (Porto), and the Museu da Imagem (Braga).

Catrica's recent solo shows include H08, Silo Cultural, Porto (Jan.2009), No Ruses So To Speak, at Galeria Quadrado Azul, Lisbon (March 2008) and Images & Pictures, Arquivo Fotográfico da C.M.Municipal de Lisboa (May 2008).

The near future is an equally busy one for Catrica as he has exhibitions opening in Barcelona, Rio de Janeiro, and Lisbon later this year, as well as an artist residency in the Galapagos Islands and a related exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, planned for 2011.

Paulo Catrica studied Photography at Ar.Co. (Lisbon, 1985) and History at Universidade Lusíada (Lisbon, 1992). He received his MA from Goldsmith’s College, London (1997) and currently is a PhD candidate at the University of Westminster in London. His current project is entitled "Subtopia: the New Towns Program in Britain."