Ianuae. from the name of the Roman deity Iānus, from Iānus (“arcade, covered passageway”).
1. Any double-doored entrance (e.g. a domestic door or a gate to a temple or city) Ianuae.
For his exhibition at Proyecto Paralelo, José Pedro Croft, one of the main exponents of the renewal of sculpture in Portugal, presents a set of sculptures and drawings that further his exploration of the relation between form and space. Following Minimalist and Conceptual Art inquiries into expanded sculpture, the whole of his practice is established from the perspective of transitoriness, instability and that which undergoes a constant transformation.
The title of the exhibition is a reference to the Roman god Janus, the two-faced deity who often symbolized change and transformation, and thus gave thresholds their name: ianuae. In the context of Croft’s work, this concept is related to the notion of the artwork as a transition space: the threshold is the exact point where distinctions between actions such as entering or exiting —starting or ending— are suspended. From this perspective Croft’s sculptures appear unstable, precarious and unfinished. These unsettling feelings are created through his incorporation of elements such as glass or mirrors to the geometric structures distinctive of his practice.
In this sense, Croft’s practice has a complex relation with Minimalism as a tradition: on one hand, his sculptures occupy and modify the space where they are placed, while they also make us part of them through our reflection in their mirrors and glasses in an almost performative fashion. Nevertheless, while Minimalism depends on the unity and integrity of the work as an object, Croft blows away this unity through his use of this same reflections, light, and trompe l’oeil. Croft’s sculptures are objects in space indeed, but these objects are always building up themselves and coming undone before our eyes. The artwork becomes an uncertain and unsettling presence that has an existence of its own while it also incorporates, even if only momentarily, everything that surrounds it. Perhaps this is the reason why their instability is able to emanate such an overpowering strength.
Even his works on paper bring together these material and sculptural aspects insofar as they become the flip side of his three-dimensional pieces. Random stains and controlled drawings occupy the space simultaneously; the papers are both light and dense; and varnishes, ink, color, and line qualities reproduce the effects of refraction, broken planes, and spatial delimitation also experienced before his sculptures.
The whole of Croft’s practice appears as a constant process of trial and error built upon a controlled system of montages and sequences constantly traversed by chance and accident. In the words of Aurora García, Croft “is concerned with the generative aspects of art, with that which may be originated by form and matter, not as a self- absorbed object that only admits the isolated confirmation of its status, but as something related to the complexity of the world and existence.”