Jorge Molder: The King, The Captain, The Soldier and the Thief.
A couple years ago, in reference to my work of photography, Natasha Christia wrote in a wonderful, and must read article “The Awakening of the Self“: “Gonzalo Bénard’s self-portraits defy any notion of the ego. They operate as “non-portraits”, within which the artist is a rendered part of the form and the medium.”
This week I received an email announcing – a more then deserved – anthology of Jorge Molder‘s work, in Lisbon: and Molder’s work has been always one of my G spots.
I met him briefly, a few times, when I was living in Lisbon, city where I grew up always around the main cultural spots. For some reason I never felt the need of knowing him more deeply than that: I wanted to know him through his work. Through his “non-portraits” portraits: so I became a voyeur and a lover of his works, and since then, every time I see one of his portraits held somewhere, I feel some sort of pride and joy. Like it happened earlier this year at Art Paris.
Since the beginning of 2HeadS, a year ago, I’ve been waiting for this honour: Jorge Molder was no doubt one of my first serious references in art-photography. Later on, another Portuguese photographer followed him: Helena Almeida, who I met also while working at Centro Cultural de Belém. But let’s focus now on Jorge Molder.
“Every age, every culture, every custom and tradition has its own character, its own weakness and its own strength, its beauties and ugliness; accepts certain sufferings as matters of course, puts up patiently with certain evils. Human life is reduced to real suffering, to hell, only when two ages, two cultures and religions overlap… Now there are times when a whole generation is caught in this way between two ages, two modes of life, with the consequence that it loses all power to understand itself and has no standard, no security, no simple acquiescence. Naturally, every one does not feel this equally strongly.”
Wrote Herman Hesse in his Steppenwolf.
I can’t avoid, and I can’t separate what my mind merged so many years ago: Jorge Molder, no matter which of his self-portraits has been always my visual portrait of Hesse’s Steppenwolf. I don’t know anything about Molder’s personality – or even about his life -, as we know about Steppenwolf’s character, but if you ask me a face for him I would immediately show one of Molder’s portraits and if you ask me about Molder’s story I would tell you to read the book. In my mind, I grew up with both mingled, or as one. And both, as one and separately, were crucial in my youth to the rightful point that I was both, and they were I. But from Hesse I then went to Yourcenar and to Mishima. And Molder remained himself. Not being.
Jorge Molder was born in Lisbon, in 1947, and graduated in Philosophy.
I never read anything about him, or by him though. My thoughts are just honest and pure thoughts, rediscovering the temporality in each of his works. I wonder if he, along with other philosophers like Sartre or even Kierkegaard, is more an existentialist in its own concept of the self: all existentialists have in common the fundamental doctrine that existence precedes its essence. As Sartre writes in his work “Existentialism is a Humanism”: “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world – and defines himself afterwards.”
From this point, it just flows to the absurd, like in Molder, Kafka or Dostoyevsky’s works.
In fact, Molder’s inner dialogues, visible in his works in which he doubles himself, take me to another stage in art: Jean Genet’s art movie “Un Chant d’Amour”, and the two inmates in the prison cells smoking to each other their own existence through a hole in the wall. The absurdity is not that absurd in an art-philosopher’s mind.
Molder in his self-portraits defies himself, his own existence and the society that we carry. The mirrors and their reflections, which I believe can travel through the back of them to the front of any mirror making us believe that what we see is just a reflection of our own. Molder defies the concept of the mirror as a self-reflection, defies beauty in its concept, and defies the notion of the ego: using himself as actor, Molder’s portraits can be just portraits of each or any one of us, as mirrors reflecting our monsters and existential doubts.
The EDP Foundation and the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado (National Contemporary Art Museum – Chiado Museum) present “Rei Capitão Soldado Ladrão” (King Captain Soldier Thief), an anthological exhibition by Jorge Molder, winner of the EDP Foundation Grand Prize /Art 2010. The exhibition opens 27 November 2013, at 7pm, at Museu do Chiado.
On 5 December, Jorge Molder will be inaugurating “A Escala de Mohs” (The Mohs Scale) at the Electricity Museum, where his most recent work shall be exhibited. Both exhibitions, curated by João Pinharanda, are carried out in the course of Jorge Molder receiving the EDP Foundation Grand Prize / Art 2010, the most significant prize awarded in the visual arts in Portugal that, as well as the cash prize, includes a retrospective or anthological exhibition of the awarded artist’s work and publication of the respective catalogue.
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