Tomás Colaço (b. 1974, lives and works in Lisbon and Tangier) works primarily with painting, as well as some installation. His work usually references a larger story that he may or may not be telling. Colaço does not elaborate on this wider history or make claims of empirical truths, allowing for ambiguity within the art object. As such, the physical piece becomes a fragment or a possible memory of the larger narrative. His work has been part of exhibitions including at Instituto Camões (Lisbon) and the Goethe Institute (Lisbon).
"Pension Palace—Room 11" is a continuation of Tomás Colaço’s August 2009 installation in Tangier of the room of an unknown – imaginary - writer. Here, the 17-meter long painting that is installed in one piece and that covers the entirety of the room pictures the district of Gibraltar, including parts of both Portugal and Morocco. Through the painting, Colaço reconstructs the environment of the “writer” who could be the “guide” the artist followed in order to arrive in Tangiers! A collection of books and found objects are set up in the room, as well as a film playing perpetually on a video monitor, informing visitors about the supposed intimate details of the life of this fictionalized writer. In fact, however, the work offers more about the artist himself through its imagined story. "Pension Palace—Room 11" is a physical realization of the space of creation, reconstructing in it as one the two places to which Colaço could possibly belong.
The Place between Backgrounds and Foregrounds
Text by Jürgen Bock*
Needs and stagings of an imagined private reality – clichés and myths of a private space are evoked in another ‘real’ space suited to the encounter with the viewer, in a new space and in the context of an exhibition that makes it temporarily public, in the scope of which the private (also the artist’s) becomes public. A line of associations that emerge from the components arranged and revealed in the Tomás Colaço’s installations, or rather ‘montages’.
The prelude for Colaço’s work at the Marrakech Biennial was a three-hour ‘happening’ last August in Pension Palace, in Tangier, a small hotel in a building that dates from the period when Tangier was a Portuguese colony. Three rooms were rented for this event. Room No. 3 was presented without any changes. However room No. 11 was transformed into the typical room of a foreign writer in Tangier, with books, photographs, maps, clothes, suitcases and also a goat. In this hotel room Colaço strangely evoked the notion of staying in the wrong place, while emphasising, in the context of an exhibition, the artist’s ‘domestication’ of the semi-public space of a hotel – it is to be noted that the goat is the oldest domesticated animal in the world. In the third room, No. 27, in collaboration with the artist Ana Jotta, Colaço installed a bar, behind which one of his ‘background’ paintings in shades of grey was presented. This painting is based on a panoramic photograph of Tangier with York Castle, the former mansion of the British governor. This mansion also belonged to the designer Yves Vidal, who – ‘falsely’ – extended the architecture with decorative stagings, making it emblematic of a certain bohemian high society from the 60s to the 90s (visitors included beatniks, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Bowles and others).