José Paulo Ferro: Sofa of myself

By CARLOS PINTO

Untitled (Aging sofa), 2019, is a large-scale monochromatic leather sofa depiction. The work demonstrates Ferro’s mastery of the chiaroscuro technique while creating detailed and balanced compositions that plays with one’s sense of scale and vision.

Described as a self-portrait by the artist, this work is not a depiction of any sofa or an artist’s possession but rather an image that captures the artist’s marks, struggles and ́pleasures with the unctuousness of graphite’. Like a historical artifact the sofa is an object that records and retells the artist ́s life, not through the classical understanding of portrait painting, but through what remains after interacting with the object. The seated position, daily routine, romantic and social lives; areas that over time have reshaped its surface area, leaving marks and other uses that added to the sofa ́s characteristics and made it unique.

Though represented alone, the drawn sofa still radiates presence of superiority and mystery that looks down on its viewers. The enormity of its scale is only juxtaposed by the outlines that encompasses each of the 15 single pieces of paper that make its surface area. This choice appears premeditated and brings a focus to the paper’s materiality and historicity within the art world as a ‘lesser form of art’, subverting this assertion through its scale.

Time and the artist’s actions are also something that are not only reflected through the work’s subject but is also embedded in its materiality. From afar the work appears to be bigger than a live sized sofa yet once the viewer nears its surface, the image becomes unfocused and deconstructed to the point that only a variety of marks remain. Transforming an anatomical drawing into an abstract expressionism experiment where the different marks engrave the time, energy, motion, materiality, weight and overall labour and perseverance of the artist.

Top image: JOSÉ PAULO FERRO. Untitled (Aging Sofa serie), 2020. Graphite on paper, 168 x 280 cm. ENQUIRY

JOSÉ PAULO FERRO, Untitled, 2014. Sanguine on paper, 20 x 19 cm
JOSÉ PAULO FERRO, Untitled, 2014. Sanguine on paper, 20 x 19 cm