To spread, to make way,
to know how to wait by Paulo Canilhas
In the desert you can walk for days, weeks and even months without seeing anything other than the sand; well, there always comes a time when a wonderful oasis appears, that invites you to stop and refuel. However hard it may be the path that leads to an oasis, any oasis always deserves the effort of the traveller. Such is the satisfaction and joy gained there that the travelled path, the memory of the travelled path, does not make it so arduous. With the forces restored in the oasis, it becomes a path where it is not unusual for the traveller to get impatient again. It is so until, suddenly, when less expected - almost when despair -, another oasis reappears. For this is precisely what the desert teaches: to walk on land and to stop where there is water, it is like this one day after another until the moment comes when one discovers that one not only loves the oasis but also the path itself: one loves the sand, the difficulty.
A critical text about an author and his work should, perhaps, start with curricular references, passing through an analysis of creation and meddling with poetic-philosophical, subjective and personal quibbling. Perhaps. However, one of the desires shared by me and Paulo Canilhas (b.1969) is this one of the search for ourselves and this urgent learning of silence, calm and inner peace, in a sagacious escape from the urgency of the days (of which we also suffer) but that we want to live in absolute comfort and, at the same time, restlessness, in a state of soul in which, knowing all the sands of life's deserts and much fewer oases, what matters is the path, the learning and the basis, the ballast that is created in the journey. I always enjoyed Paulo Canilhas' work and I enjoyed it even more when my gaze confronted his beautiful chromatic, in a gesture of free expression, whether suggests a hidden transnarrativity or challenges us to the abstraction of all poetics of deep and intense colour.
When challenged to write about LASTRO, patent in Óbidos (novaOgiva, contemporary art gallery) from January 25th to March 28th, 2020, the thought of hesitating did not even cross my mind. There was always in the blue and red fleeting of Paulo Canilhas's, my intense and fleeting nature, contrary (be it hot, be it cold) and free to leave barefooted, in detachment, through the hottest and hardest sand, in search of what is lost of me sometimes, in the inability to believe that what is ours is kept and that is necessary to wait, meditate and believe. And that is why the artist who develops dreams on canvas, the complete experimentalist who crosses means and opens perspectives from painting and drawing as bases, conceptual and plastic of resistance, deserves, first, our ability to stop time, have no place and see ourselves on the journey of each of these epitaphs of roots and wings on which we travel day after day.
Living in truth requires courage. Knowing ourselves, realizing that we are not a formula and that we do not fit into the gears, is an act of social vandalism. But it is what is essential. We don't have to be all the same, want everyone to be the same and draw the future on the copy of the next-door neighbour. No. Art, in all its forms, allows us the excellence of originality, of being unique and being real. Who is art, who breathes it, cannot fall into the stratagem of the disloyal copy of the other that we envy without realizing that, in our essence and in the words of our heart and intuition, lies the consummated fact that there is no equal path nor common desert sand. Each is an exercise, each one has a ballast, a basis, a demand, an existential challenge (at least), a creative mission. While thinking about what to write about Paulo Canilhas, I was reading Pablo d'Ors (b.1963). The composition of the painting, the complexity, and dexterity of the objects, made installation and semantics, suggested to me this metaphor of the path, of the truth and the light. In his unmistakable blacks, gestural and difficult, Paulo Canilhas' painting is always a path, it is always full of steps and seems to carry the extensive claim to the power of free (and absolute) freedom, which Rimbaud (1854-1891) spoke.
When it seems that all visual possibility has already been experienced, we are surprised by another variation, by another arabesque. Perhaps here the desire to see is saturated by excess. Or perhaps it is not, and one wishes to keep on seeing, to be plastically satiated. Until the last image. Until the darkness of the room.
LASTRO gathers about three dozen of the author's works and presents itself in the audacity of vertigo between painting and the irony of three-dimensional proposals. But the wait is always there. That dark line, like a seam, that runs through the canvases, uniting them without wanting to connect them, is, in itself, the expression of the hand in the matter, of the strength of the emotional flood that is to paint and, simultaneously, of purity and beauty that brings to our lives, questioning us and giving answers and, above all, being part of the unspeakable process of balance without the denial of who we are. The objects that Paulo Canilhas proposes here intrigue me. They are like a kind of challenge to the gravity law, in a readymade logic visited by absolute and primordial know-how. Paulo Canilhas is like this: he has spread, he is making a path and, to me, his painting is the compendium of my learning for waiting, of my fight against the urgency and anxiety of life, in a time that is new and that brings the challenge of that table (Selfportrait # 2) as a place of faith in what the heart tells us.
More than an exhibition, LASTRO is the affirmation of a way of being and an invitation to see ourselves there, through the tangle of lines and intensity of the colours that are the portrait of chaos and the order that we should let ourselves be without being afraid of the inevitable imperfection that not even art avoids towards the world. Thank you, Paulo, for challenging me to see myself through the mastery and subtle violence of your painting. Thank you.
Helena Mendes Pereira
 D'ORS, Pablo - The Friend of the Desert: A Novel. Lisbon: Quetzal, 2019. Pages 161 and 162.
 NOGUEIRA, Isabel - A Imagem no Enquadramento do Desejo. Transnarratividade em Pintura, Fotografia e Cinema. Silveira: Book Builders, 2016. Page 65.