Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos Director Museu Nacional do Azulejo [The National Tile Museum]

The Islamic memoirs that leave an indelible mark on a certain Portuguese aesthetic matrix, found in tile art one of the happiest expressions. These “polished stones,” as very expressed the name itself “al zulej”, become fundamental components in structuring the national architectures. Thanks to the illusionism that it causes, catch the materialization of space, the faience assumes in Portugal, the protagonism, as exterior decorative material reserved in other areas to the leather and textiles. The textiles that Cristina Bolborea’s works recover, exploring the plasticity of clay to compose carpets and fabrics, richly interlaced. The manner in which these objects are arranged and juxtaposed within the space of this exhibition evokes the image of Islamic fairs, those places representing the game of memories connected to childhood and youth, the miraculous space where Scheherazade’s exotic stories develop, place where the strewn soft pillows invite us stop, sit down and listen. But she is here suspended in time, petrified, in testimony snatched by an ignored Vesuvius whose incandescent lava vaporized the matter, and kept only the forms from the objects occupying the space. We still feel also the shadow of those who lived there, the time immediately before departures, in the fabrics arranged randomly on chairs or on plates, vestiges of these absent presences.

This journey through memory expands upon the reasons designed and incised by an unknown traveler and on his impressions of these places, sumptuous images from those far off fairs and their products. The drawings travel through time and impress us, immortalized in the immutability of matter and the silence of images, and the residual chromatics becomes the testimony of vivid and rich colours that once covered them. Among nowadays immutable fragility of these memories, architectural testimonials arise from place to place, ruins of lost spaces. The bright floors reflecting on the ground the sky brilliancy, the remains of a wall and even a column, the axial element of space and the only survivor of a temple forgotten today.

The magic lived formerly in this space. Present in elaborated and strange rings, fascinating pieces where found shelter the capricious djinn. In these jewels, under certain effects of light, we can guess yet the sight of these fantastic creatures, refined and malicious, eradicated from the existential space by the increasing progress of reason.

These are just some of the images evoked by the objects created by Cristina Bolborea. The sensuality and the exoticism of a world close to the illusory, but in reality so far. The ability to feed the fantasy and the imagination, to encourage the creation and transmission of stories. Many would be to say about the aesthetic solutions found by the artist. We could talk about influences and references. We believe, however, that his greatest achievement is the ability of objects she created to evoke stories, fact which, in a world more (i)rational is itself a performance worthy of praises …

The exhibition of Cristina Bolborea’s works would not have been possible without the support of the Romanian Ambassador in Portugal, Mr. Vasile Popovici, the Director of the Romanian Cultural Institute, Mr. Daniel Nicolescu, Mrs. Roxana Rîpeanu, and without the tireless team of Museu Nacional do Azulejo [The National Tile Museum].

We owe warm thanks to the artist who continuously supported us, as well as to the museum sponsors: Lusitânia, Companhia de Seguros, SA and Sotinco.

Maria Antónia Pinto de Matos

Director Museu Nacional do Azulejo [The National Tile Museum]