Rodrigo Canhão has always been a committed artist. His involvement in art includes membership of the Coimbra Plastic Arts Centre (he became a member at 16 years of age). His pictures project a very individual, personal style with perhaps a touch of narcissism, but a clear rejection of any particular school or specific painting mode.
He began exhibiting his work in 1984. He had his first individual exhibition in 1990. Since then he has had various exhibitions all over Portugal. (Vila Nova de Cerveira, Coimbra, Lisbon, Braga, Vila Real, Viana do Castelo, Póvoa do Varzim, Viseu, Aveiro, Guarda, Póvoa do Lanhoso, Bragança…)
Canhão’s figure/creations are convincing fiction. But if the entire repetition is reinforcement so is the alteration even in the continuity and continuity understood as the omnipresence of these figures- with the honourable exception of “Rochinha” (the scruffiest and street dog of Quinta das Rochas) who seems to want to go on climbing, go higher, finally perched on top of the mountain.
States of the soul behind the contaminated or contaminating masks of true identity? Rodrigo Canhão’s artist alter ego? (Re) inventions of himself or-simply- self portraits? The art of self denial? The painter gives no answer to any of these questions. Inspiration and an oneric state work for an artist who has no time for creative anguish. The rest is nothing, conjectures and fantasies of the spectators which may(or may not) lead to curious formulations about his way of seeing the world which surrounds us and that which is innermost secret and unfathomable hidden within the artist who transform it into lines of strength.
In acrylic, oils or watercolour, and set in a larger frame, a humanity more artistic than human transpires from the figures. And the eyes? In bitter-sweet contrast, with strong expression and dominance, Rodrigo Canhão’s characters’ eyes are sometimes tormented and sometimes as hard as steel, also the eyes of an inquisitor. They are also tragic at times, deep as moons, other times innocent, old eyes; and sometimes they are empty of deep silences (the presence/absence duality, eyes of memory-shadows that stare hypnotically. Such a frontal look seems to see nothing but always hints at uneasiness and disquiet.
There is tension in that look, a leap into the unlimited (the stairs-precipice is a particularly noteworthy feature), to something which one feels like guessing, to inflict upon the forbidden, something which places perplexity in way we address these paintings. Then, there is sarcasm and irony, humour and mockery, defiance and firmness in the portrait-actors, intriguing faces which so many imaginable
faces when of a grotesque nature bringing together truths and fantasies beneath blue predominance in all its diversity. But in his chromatic discourse the reds, euphoric orange colours, garish colours, and the violet, the chamois, the yellow-ochre, the colour of grain, and the shaded grey ashes, the dizzy, or perhaps not dizzy, greens
Rodrigo Canhão’s work enables one to recreate beings, objects and the light in multiple gear shifts, a sort of vertigo produced by contemplating an(ir) reality that illudes and deludes, which is, after all, that of the human condition.