This publication was published on the occasion of the exhibition Julião Sarmento that took place at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art (October 12 – November 24, 1991).

With this exhibition Witte de With continued at the time its ‘way to the South’. This way began with Julio Galán from Monterrey and Guillermo Kuitca from Buenos Aires, went by way of Saint Clair Cemin from Cruz Alta, Paris and New York, towards John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres from Bronx, and, at the time that this catalogue was published, was concluding with Hélio Oiticica from Rio de Janeiro.

Sarmento has been a painter with a Mediterranean, even African palette: black, ocher and red are the colors that appear most often in his work. Generally, with this use of color goes a large-scale canvas. Borrowing sometimes its content from film fragments from Carl Dreyer to Michelangelo Antonioni, Sarmento’s work tells autobiographical and travel tales.

Virulence, sexuality and voyeurism are the most important themes of his work; especially of Sarmento’s early paintings, where images, borrowed from a sado-masochistic milieu, drag the viewer along. Sarmento’s works from the early ‘90s are literally and figuratively lighter in tone. It is as if the isolation has permanently made room for dialogue. Sarmento feels that the human figure is the only thing that can be painted over and over again, becoming more poetic. All what remains is the tension beneath the surface; the dance of life and death.

The publication features an essay by the Portuguese literature critic Leonor Nazaré, and Chris Dercon’s interview with the artist, which demonstrate the development of the artist’s work, and show proof of his great honesty.