"Azul Azul" is a photographic exhibition by Luís Pavão, inspired by the malacology collection of the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo, where the geometric shapes of shells and whelks stand out in cyanotypes and silver prints.
"I have visited the collection of the Museu Marítimo de Ílhavo several times and have always lingered in the room where the gastropod collection is displayed. The geometric shapes they present seem to be taken from a mathematics textbook, where you learn what symmetry, ellipsis, and spirals are. I felt that there was a mystery in these living creatures, where their shape is possible to describe through a mathematical expression. The sequences of dark light could have been worked on by an artist. The lines, symmetries, and volumes seem to be drawn with compass, ruler and set square. Their perfection is astonishing and their delicacy enchanting.
With the photographs I tried to highlight all this geometry, using neutral backgrounds and a very carefully crafted light. The cyanotypes were printed in large format, they are 6 to 8 times larger than the real object. It was a long work that kept me busy during the lockdown. In the end, looking at the cyanotype prints, I could not resist the temptation to see them in another way, printed in silver and in their real size. So I present them twice. Each shell has two readings, allowing a parallel between these two printing processes in analog photography. Both with their limitations and their charms."
"Cyanotypes, the historical process of photography, which make up the main axis of this work, thus seem to be incompatible with the characteristics valued in the photographic process, on the other hand, they bring a particular characteristic to the photographic image, the nuances of the artist, a unique character that is independent of its photographic matrix, having a transformative and surprising action in the final result.
This is how Luis Pavão confronts us with the documental versus the artistic, the scientific, in the documentation of the Maritime Museum of Ílhavo collection, and the artistic in the intensity of the characteristic blue of this process, and especially in the apparent nuances that can be seen in the images, subverting the reproducible character of photographic images, and transforming them into unique and unrepeatable objects.
Thus, this nucleus of photographic images emerges, not being just objects already determined in the capture, but a dialogue between their documental capacity and the exhibition potential."
Temporary exhibition room
Exhibition included in the International Museum Day 2021 program