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The memory of the artist and the results of the scientific analysis - The materials and the painting processes of Pedro Cabrita Reis

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Comunicação Comunicação sob a forma de poster
Autores A. Cudell, A. J. Cruz, A. Calvo, J. Carballo, A. Martins, S. Saraiva
Evento 4th ATSR Meeting - Technology and Interpretation - Reflecting the artist's Process, ICOM-CC Working Group of Art Technological Source Research
Local Vienna, Academy of Fine Arts, 23-24 de Setembro de 2010
Notícia URL
Resumo Within the frame of a research about Portuguese contemporary painting, which is taking place at the moment, a set of works of Pedro Cabrita Reis (1953) has been analysed. This study is based on a multidisciplinary approach supported by scientific analysis and by an active collaboration with the artist. A special emphasis has been done on the materials identification and on the recording with audiovisual support of the artist practises and interviews.

Pedro Cabrita Reis is one of the most international portuguese artists and his work has an own language using a wide range of techniques and materials. It is usual to find on the same painting a mixture of artist materials, like acrylics of Windsor and Newton, together with materials used on the construction industry, like lacquer, enamels, water-based surface coatings and coachbuilder bulks. On the recent paintings Cabrita Reis is putting coloured acetone directly on the ground layers, which are produced by himself with PVA. This process causes several damages, like contractions and blisterings on the paint layers and despite of being unwittingly, the artist has no concerns about the degradation. 6 paintings on canvas of the most relevant periods of Pedro Cabrita Reis – from the 80’s until the present, were scientifically analysed. Some of them presented already some conservation problems. Among others, the goal of these analyses was to identify and characterize the paints. This information is useful for characterization of pathologies and for a better understanding of the degradation processes presented by the paintings. The pigments, fillers and binders were identified by optical microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (EDXRF), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), and scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM-EDS). In addition, the stratigraphy was determined with sample cross-sections, the painting surface was observed with a portable microscope (200x), and infrared and ultraviolet fluorescence photos were made.

Acrylic, alkyd and PVA resins were identified in these paintings and sometimes, these binders were mixed on the same work. It was also possible to evaluate some of the different artist’s processes by comparing old practises with current ones, which allowed a better understanding of the artist development. Through the interviews the artist clarified important details about the techniques and creative processes, in particular about the used materials, which helped a lot on the interpretation of the results of the scientific analysis. The interviews had also the objective to collect important information, which enabled a better understanding of several matters like: the artist intent and his point of view, the creative process, the choice of the materials and the artist perspective regarding the preservation of his works. However his testimony was not always in coincidence with the analytical results.

The information obtained on the scientific analysis and interviews, made possible to understand degradation processes and to propose preventive measures of conservation.
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