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02 - 28.02.2023
São Mamede Gallery, Lisbon



Color directly influences the soul.

Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings.

The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively,

to cause vibrations in the souls.


Wassily Kandinsky 1


Since the beginning of the pandemic, rates of anxiety, depression, burn out and substance abuse have increased at a concerning rate. Whether through media, activism, scientific research or artistic practices, discourse on mental health is now more important than ever. The solo show The Absence of Rest (A Ausência do Descanso) talks to us about exactly the need to address it without embarrassment, face this systemic problem head on and make it one of the topics of the moment. Our collective emotional, psychological and social well-being needs it.


One of the bodies of work presented here makes use of word plays around the names of musical instruments and concerns the artist has, as is the case of “(CHILL)OPHONE” (chill-your-phone / xylophone), talking to us about the need for technological detachment, and “PIANO PIANO” (the instrument and the Italian word for softly) presented here with a performative angle, reflecting on the need to slow down as a society and to take life one day at a time. We are now surrounded by a madrigal of colors and compositions of repeated elements, and “music, as an inherently abstract form, provided a potent metaphor for artists (...)” (Scoates, 2013: 18), such as Malta.


Malta’s practice also echoes, through the colorful representation of sofas and chairs in many of her large scale paintings, the collective emergency to simply take a seat, to rest, something that is currently so absent from our hectic lives. Her pairs’ concerns, being similar to the artists’ or particular, are represented as well, as a wish to heal and understand, making this a plurivocal exhibition. These paintings serve not only as a form of personal therapy for the artist that expresses her daily concerns

and leaves them behind at the studio, but as well as a method to cope with and grasp her friends’ obstacles in life, to help in any way she can.


By instru(mental) I mean not only an allusion to sound and song as a vehicle for inspiration but I refer to the meaning of the word as necessary and influential as well, as this exhibition wishes to leave us spectators with the notion that the topic of mental health is an important discussion to have as a society, being with our pairs, our family, our medical professionals, the politics that represent us, or even with strangers we met in an exhibition. In fact, Roberts, Camic and Springham (2011: 1) “suggest that art-viewing in a group within a gallery setting has the potential to be used more widely as a community-based, low-cost and non-clinical activity to provide social and psychological support”, making this show exist not only as a vehicle for awareness but as well as an opportunity for some sort of healing.


Maria de Brito Matias, Janeiro de 2023.




Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, trans. Michael T. H. Sadler (1911; New York: Dover 1977),


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