Shared Roots / Private Jokes

March 1 – 30, 2024


Freight + Volume is pleased to present Shared Roots / Private Jokes, an exhibition of recent works by Lisbon-based artist Madalena Pequito. Shared Roots / Private Jokes will be on view at 39 Lispenard St. in Tribeca from March 1st - March 30th 2024. This is Pequito’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. Madalena Pequito’s works give voice to storied themes of migration, familial lineages, and identity. Memories both personal and collective saturates her paintings in graceful washes of color and accretive textures. The gestural aspects inlaid into each of her pictures effortlessly toggle between a layered intensity and a watery translucency. All of which imbues her work with a hidden typography inherently significant in its own right.

Pequito’s work is as much a matter of metaphor and symbolism, as it is the preservation of persons and family members she has come to know across her life. Her figures are always situated in a haptic context that refreames their literal presentation, and which makes the activity of preserving their likeness all the more intimate. At the same time, she pushes past the putative limits where an artist remains a neutral observer, unbiased and contemplative. In a painting like A Book Called the 6th of January, for example, Pequito has inserted her own likeness into the scene—not strictly in the manner of self-portraiture, but more in an effort to fuse two distinct temporalities: the time of the painting, as gradually realized by the artist, and the time of the viewer, who sees only the finished product.

Pequito’s paintings not only depict time spatially, in the form of repetition, but durationally, by way of signs, signatures, and other nuanced textual markings. In These Roots Put a Roof on My Head, different implications are suggested by the words stippling the fresco-like scene of several generations of Pequito’s family. Although the family stands together, like a fortress or a wall, the wavy grids and translucent aspects of the work instate a sense of open-endedness rather than closure. In a similar vein, the numbers that feature in the painting Growing Pains have a fragility about them which contrasts with their seeming exigence. The colored patterns developed across the work suggest that linear time, with its incessant measuring of loss and separation, is a camouflage for something more formless, joyful, and sporadic.

In her desire to preserve personal memories that might otherwise be lost to a kind of collective amnesia, Pequito’s malleable depictions of objects and persons, her use of language as an open-ended gesture more than a closed-off statement, creates a familial nexus of portraits, a developing series of intertwined, colorful roots. Viewing her works in this way underscores the symbolism flowing through the exhibition (grids, flowers, faces, roots), while also calling attention to the sense of excitement and hopefulness that animates the carefully cultivated gaps and translucencies her paintings characteristically showcase. What results is as much symbolic as descriptive: a journey through different fields of energy, as the eye observes order forming out of wilding, exuberant growth.

Madalena Pequito was born in Lisbon, in 1996. She lives and works in Lisbon. Pequito studied Scenography and Costumes at António Arroio Art School, graduated in Painting at Lisbon Faculty of Fine Art in 2018, and completed a Masters degree in Arts and Cultural Enterprise at Central Saint Martins, in London, in 2021. Pequito participated in an exchange program in Budapest, Hungary, at the Magyar Képzomuveszeti Egyetem (Hungarian University of Fine Art). Throughout her career, the artist has sought to integrate different disciplines into her work and collaborate with other artists. She was a resident at the cultural organizations Nucleo A70 ad Casa da Dona Laura. Pequito was awarded with FLAD’s prize, which fully funded her artist residencies in New York, at Mothership NYC and Kunstraum Llc. She is also part of the Vês.Três Collective. Pequito has taken part in two International Biennials: Contextile Biennial, in Guimarães, in 2022, and ArtFem Macao Female art Biennial, in Macao, in 2018. She was a finalist in some art prize contests, such as the Young Creators Art Prize, Guarda’s International Art Prize, and Paula Rego art prize, and has received an Honorable Mention at Jovarte Biennial. Pequito’s work has been included in more than 50 solo and group shows since 2015.