Júlio de Matos Photography

JORNAL DE LETRAS ARTES E IDEIAS (21 / 06 / 1983) [back]

Press Clips



From daguerreotype (from Louis Jacob Mande Daguerre) to xerography (from Rank Xerox Incorporated), from silver iodide and the vapours of mercury to selenium and diazo paper and the electrostatic processes of "fixing the views that nature offers without the need to resort to drawing", despite everything, something of what is happening, or rather its image, is coming to a moving Porto or the image of a moving Porto.

The "Jornal de Notícias" Gallery, for example, is currently showing an exhibition by Júlio Alexandre de Matos, of electrophotographs, photograms and xerographs, as well as photos from the Rochester Institute of Technology. It is the same place where, years ago, the Porto Photographic Association organised the 1st National Photographic Art Salon and where the photographers of the IF Group (Idea and Form) exhibited their work, displaying last year, in the Soares dos Reis National Museum, the images in transit of everyday Porto these "Corners of Time" which, suddenly, allowed the natives of the so-called Borough to enter the darkroom of the collective memory and to observe, like in a black and white dream, the inexorable transformation of the streets and squares of us all, witnessed by photography. The past and the present shown as an example, the JN Gallery, coordinated by Ana Maria Ramos de Almeida, being here no more than that, an example (not forgetting therefore what is done in all others, in particular Árvore, "in search of lost colour"), is useful as it contains, perhaps, from the Photographic Association to the Rochester Institute, the mobile metaphor, the direct proof, of the photographic Porto, such as it is required from the journalist.

Alvão and Beleza are stored, it’s not known exactly where or how, despite the interest of the Centre for Contemporary Art. Founded 32 years ago, the Porto Photographic Association has also struggled for 32 years, with positives and negatives, for the dissemination and "development of the culture of photographic art, spreading the principles that inform the science and the processes that it uses". Time has now turned, for ever, the "Corners of Time". "Trains from yesterday, images of today", "Experimental Photography", "D.Maria Bridge", "In search of lost colour": shadows.

The memory of the journalist (journalism is also probably a precarious lens pursuing the impossible chimera of the present) is senselessly fixed in the coloured chimigrams of deMatos, in his portraits obtained with a Halloid Xerox, instead of conventional film, on selenium plates charged with 10,000 volts of static electricity (the areas exposed to light reject the "toner", those that are not exposed attract it), in the xerographs displayed on the walls of the JN Gallery for more curious and interested members of the public. We are in Porto, that is, everywhere, in the year 1983.

Júlio Alexandre deMatos, architect from ESBAP, photographer from RIT - Rochester Institute of Technology (on the MFA in Photography as a Fine Art Program), in New York, where he worked with some important names in contemporary photography, shows in the "Jornal de Notícias" Gallery a collection of works dated very recently and, often, of a hybrid nature, like electrophotographs on paper and other materials worked in charcoal, gouache, transfer, etc. I said this before: there are, besides electrophotographs, photograms and xerographs. And also 50 works by photographers from the Rochester Institute, among them Júlio de Matos himself.

Something between drawing and photography
The attention of the journalist is primarily focused on the 16 portraits exhibited. Real and unreal, like Picasso’s magic lantern. "The medium I chose to make this series of portraits was electrophotography — the photographer explained. The fact that the electrophotographic prints are "hybrids" (something between drawing and photography) gives rise to this process easily accepted as manual work, with gouache, watercolour, oils, coloured pencil, pigments, transfers, etc. The creative process can therefore be significantly extended and, consequently, better controlled. My rational and emotional reactions to the portrayed subjects and then to the images resulting from the optico-mechanical part of the process, can be guided as in a progressive synchronisation. My approach to electrophotography is in fact a system of re-imagination / post-imagination, which works like a catalyst on my perception, making it, therefore, easier for me to translate my inner landscapes into renewed visual experiences".

The (14) photograms displayed were made by the photographer on diazo paper. This paper, also known as ozalid, used by architects and engineers to copy technical drawings, has a sensibility less than 1 ASA, and is developed in ammonia vapours. In some of the images presented by Júlio Alexandre deMatos, the contact was made with an engraving press, thus creating what he calls "coloured chimigrams". The xerographs, 10 in all, made between 1979 and 1980, the oldest works in the exhibition, were, for their part, printed on a Xeroz 6500 machine as part of the Gratwick "Art Book". Finally, containing a little of all the techniques, from conventional photography to collage, the works from the Rochester Institute photographers.

These are times of change, like the times of Niepce. And of permanence. Change and permancence: the contradictory domain of photography.

Manuel António Pina
June, 1983

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