“Waiting Around to Die” is the title of this exhibition, which was conceived and created specifically for this space.To wander around, left to our fate, waiting to die, or else killing time until the final moment arrives. We “kill time” as we destroy ourselves and wait for death, a plight that is conveyed to us through the voice of Townes Van Zandt in “Waiting Around to Die” (1968), a favourite song of Henrique Pavão, who took from it the title of his exhibition.

The artist is about to lose something.

In a sound installation akin to land art, Henrique Pavão prepares for a change. A film is being shot, photographs are being taken and a sound is heard: a D minor chord that is played on an electric guitar by the weather, by nature and by chance. Out of this project, which is currently being developed in the sort of Portuguese landscape that, in the minds of some, is evocative of the Western film genre, the present exhibition at the Casa A. Molder Gallery emerges.

Here we have an encounter, a discovery and a deception.

During one of his perambulations through the Alentejo landscape (a scenery with which he is familiar), Henrique Pavão found a cow skull. The remains of an animal that almost surely died of thirst. Pavão’s strolls do not take place across miles and miles of prairie or desert; however, in this small stretch of land, sometimes we find ourselves as much under the sway of nature’s impetuosity as in certain vast expanses somewhere else on the globe. Yet, that is not the case. We are only under the sway of the indifference and impotence of those who take care (or neglect to take care) of these lands.The skull is no longer bone; now it is bronze, and the sign for the D minor chord that is part of Pavão’s other project has been etched into it. In western music (and elsewhere), this chord conveys sadness and anxiety.

As previously stated, the artist is preparing to lose something and, by doing so, he creates his work. Equally “waiting around to die” is the exhibition’s space, the Casa A. Molder Gallery. Both Henrique Pavão and the space that hosts these bronze pieces (a cow skull and a long cable that would connect an electric guitar to an amplifier) carry loss in themselves. Here we have the encounter. Pavão has placed his bronze pieces (which slowly oxidate, having been purposely left untreated against that process) in a space that is both desert and oasis.

What do we do while waiting around to die? The singer tells us of the sad path of someone who has always been neglected and eventually becomes an addict, which is always a way of waiting around to die. But the artist does not wait. The artist fights death through making, creating and finding: out of this struggle, the sculptures emerge. Henrique Pavão does not want to lose something, but loss is unavoidable, and is “crystallised” in this space lost in time, a hollow that reminds us of something that not so long ago was a part of our collective vision of a city, and is now slipping away from existence.

It is here, in this place of absolute loss, that we will find Henrique Pavão’s sculptures, and here we will, attentive and committed, wait around to die.

Adriana Molder, 2024

Wainting Around to Die, 2024

Bronze, instrument cable (6mm x 100m)
Variable dimensions

Installation views, 'Waiting Around to Die', Galeria da Casa A.Molder, 2024 

Photo Bruno Lopes 

© 2024 Henrique Pavão