In Erased, Simão evokes Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning Drawing from 1953 and from a set of images from the archive of the US Library of Congress, creates a series that invites us to a myriad of questions and reflections. As Rauschenberg added a subtitle to the photographic image, Simão assumes that he manipulated, that he erased to reveal, that he took out to add. As a result of that, a new piece of art is born. By isolating the plinth where the statue was, Simão opens a new perspective and approach to the artistic work. In the end, what has apparently been removed, manipulated, erased or in some way censored, has never ceased to be there. At the same time, Erased emphasizes some of the dangers of our times and is a vision about the importance and role that artistic work and public art assume by validating certain values, historical knowledge or collective memories. Simultaneously, this project, so rich and full of layers and paths, begins to reveal the red lines. Thinner, more complex, hidden in pixels that are no longer there, or in those that have been added as a result of today’s technological possibilities. One year after the 2021 invasion of the US Capitol we start to ask, how did we get here and what does this mean for the future of western democracies? How do some European democracies deal with their colonial past and history? What is the role of schools, museums, educators and opinion makers in today’s society? And finally, it considers the difficulty of political actors to get closer to citizens, and the danger of that in a world with less and less mediation, with lots of manipulation and the growth of populism.
Paulo Simão (b. 1973, Santarém) lives in Lisbon, Portugal and works as graphic designer and photographer. He finished the Advanced Level of Photography (2013-2017) from Ar.Co school in Lisbon, Portugal and has a PhD in advertising from the IADE – Faculdade de Design Tecnologia e Comunicação da Universidade Europeia. In 2022, Simão was the invited artist to the 16th edition of the Getxophoto Festival with the project Erased. In addition, he was the selected artist for Guest-Room for Der Greif magazine in 2019 by John Fleetwood, and again by Kris Graves under the framework TMRW (Tomorrow), for Monstra 2020 in Lisbon, Portugal, for Photo Is:rael, Tel Aviv, Israel (2019), for Descubrimientos Award PHE19, Madrid, Spain (2019), and for Take the Picture: Capture, Collect, Photograph, Archive, Andrew Kensett’s selection for the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography (2017).
In 2020, Simão’s Erased was shortlisted in the open call from the Getxophoto Festival. He has also been a finalist in the Kaunas Photo Star Festival, Kaunas, Lithuania (2019) and was nominated by Franziska Kunze for the portfolio reviews Plat(t)form 2019 from Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2018). His work Goodbye Pyongyang was shortlisted in the Getxophoto Festival Open Call with the project (2019), was featured in the JaipurPhoto Festival at the Albert Hall Museum, Jaipur (2016), was a solo exhibition at Fundação Oriente Goa, Panjim, India (2015), and was featured in the Territories of the Portuguese Photography projections session curated by Angela Ferreira in the Delhi Photo Festival, New Delhi (2015).
Simão’s collective exhibits include Apontamentos Sobre Empatia e Alternidade, Lagos Cultural Center, Lagos, Portugal (2022), O gato invisível de tão preto que era, Galeria Santa Maria Maior, Lisbon (2020), and at Galerie Bohai, Hanover, Germany (2017). His work has been published in the magazines HANT – Magazin für Fotografie, Germany (2019) and in Propeller, Portugal (2018).