13 September, 2019 - 19 October, 2019
The bird and the stone
Álvaro Marcos Arvelo
«My eyes search for that
which makes us remove our shoes
to see if there is anything else holding us up
or invent a bird
to find out whether air exists»
In any journey to oneself we hear the unbridled beating of flight within the dream. We are overwhelmed by the lines and arcs traced through the air by the bird in flight, and not only the beauty of the bird perched still on a branch. If birds could speak, if their words were weighty enough say what they love, they would be cold stones on a riverbed, and not wispy flames igniting the air. The bird and the stone are two poles of the same gravity in the work of Pamen Pereira. Flight staunches our desire for greater freedom that would take us towards the light. It is the impulse of that long-yearned-for levity that guides the words of Emily Dickinson when she writes: «Hope is a thing with feathers that perches in the soul». Very soon, we will learn to give wings to that desire. In the Jura Mountains, in southern Germany, at the start of this century, they found the figure of a bird carved in ivory by the first humans to settle in Europe, more than 30,000 years ago. Tied as we are to Earth’s gravity, we have been driven to fight for life amid a nature that is often hostile, whilst up above birds trace shapes in the air, to gain that alchemy of levity that has driven our dreams from the very start.
Gastón Bachelard, in Air and Dreams, a book that has accompanied Pamen Pereira on many journeys, reminds us that «if birds are the pretext for the great flight of our imagination, it is not because of their brilliant colours. What is primitively beautiful in birds is their flight. For the dynamic imagination, flight is a primary beauty». Flight that leads us towards primary beauty gives meaning to works that are resolved within the dynamic and which, at the same time, quieten us, returning our being to its primitive serenity. For Pamen Pereira, self-knowledge entails knowledge of the world through nature; hence, emotion is presented in those paths less travelled by humanity. For art to move away from artifice, for it to inhabit its truth, for the light that illuminates it not to be refracted by the known, we must unlearn what we have learned in order to return to the origin. Pamen Pereira has written that this «self-awareness of being nature leads me to enter it like one entering an unblemished, unspoiled territory, untamed by man». All emotion is, therefore, nurtured by retracing one’s steps. It is futile to think we know what we are looking for. Revelation always awaits in the place not yet known. Sometimes it is found whilst contemplating the humblest of things: a root stripped away from the soil, lichen blooming from the silent hollow of a rock, the tiny fly that escapes from William Blake’s poem to land on the question of eternity, the silk bud left behind by the caterpillar as it transitions to a butterfly. The work of Pamen Pereira does not seek or imitate; rather it is born from a new path of knowledge in which the world must be reformulated. If all things on earth reach, as Paracelsus thought, «the hands of man without an effort on his part to grasp them», the work of the artist must, on the basis of finding, bring forth a new way of being in nature that allows us to «see beyond what we perceive with our senses». Only then will the concealed be revealed. Only then will we achieve that alchemy of levity that reaches us from the most remote and forgotten corner of our dreams.