Do it yourself by João Motta Guedes (b.1995), lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. 
“Setas ao vento” (Portuguese for “arrows in the wind”) is the name Lisbon-based artist João Motta Guedes gave himself some years ago, a custom he habitually follows to rebaptize his loved ones. It is indeed a perfect title for someone whose practice revolves around varying dimensions of violence, love, vulnerability and, above all, freedom. Swoosh! Whizz! Swish! He is ready to take off with a gust of wind.

Knowing his nickname, it is not surprising to find the image he presented as a self-representation. The picture speaks for itself. A raised hand holds a swift yet fragile paper plane, set to soar into the clear division of the horizon, posing a message that is as symbolic as it is literal: fly away! In his multimedia installations, sculptures and prints, João habitually recurs to poetic language, proposing visual and verbal metaphors to express the meaning of being and feeling human. In this case, the self-portrait represents an ontological vision of João’s work, synthesized in a prism of bright luminosity and captured movement. Throughout his production, the artist revindicates the individual as a recipient of liberty in the face of social injustice, as much as the raised arm puts forth a symbol of hope and strength. His pieces crave and express an ideal of peace, community and political progress, just as the unclouded sky and un-scribbled paper appear as a blank canvas ready to be filled with dreams of utopian futures. The sunlit blue is deprived of the presence of stones or chains, symbols that habitually represent oppression or restriction in his installations. Nothing stands in the way of the forceful diagonal traced by human presence, the strong momentum of a single gesture: set off, and away! Only art can lead us ahead.

So, can we follow him into the void?

Words by Whataboutvic

RATO AO SOL is a Luso-Spanish platform for the emerging arts, founded by curators Francisca Portugal and Whataboutvic.

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