Sofia Pidwell

PuZZle of LiFE

Dança da Alma


“while you listen you speak, live the language,
sweet desire for water, the open body
lying on the mud
the step breaks the light the young small face
on the leaves”
António Franco Alexandre (“A pequena face” in “Poemas”)

Sofia Pidwell’s paintings, all in large format and now on exhibition at Galeria Sá da Costa, are the counterpart of the gestural choreographies the artist performs during the creative process. They are like the back of the mirror in which the artist sees herself (and her gestures) transmuted into spirals of colour. But are also the visible counterpoint of her vigorous dances, evolving into the catharsis, when they draw uninterrupted circular movements on the tangible space. 



The gestures swirl on themselves in an unstoppable rhythm; they conform cyclopean, cyclonic, kaleidoscopic balloons of colour and spill out over the canvas in a chromatic vertigo, taking up the whole surface and even curling beyond the edges of the support, thus contaminating the surrounding space with a myriad of intertwined colours, reminiscent of boreal auroras of volatile and mutating colour. 



There is no room here for discontinuity or disruption. The artist’s own self-awareness is swallowed up in the creative process and the work, thus liberated, builds itself spontaneously, gradually building up its original purpose and coherence. The colours overlap, merge, dilute, and intertwine, all of them flowing through the same pockmarked and undulating groove, sometimes flooding the banks, like a river flowing towards its mouth, dragging the uncountable sediments along its riverbed.



The speed and amplitude of Sofia Pidwell’s continuous gesture is perceptible in the irregular density of the stains of colour that are engraved on the canvas, dotted, irregular, some more marked than others, but never syncopated, never broken.


The apophatic creative method adopted by Sofia Pidwell, deliberately reducing the importance of the status of authorship in the artistic process, has affiliations with innumerable spiritual currents that caused, for instance in orgiastic ceremonies, the ecstasy of the participants, and also with the “Dionysian madness” found in early Greek tragedies, when the synthesis of god and goat was imagined in the figure of the satyr. For them, the knowledge and the contact with supra-natural realities were only fully achieved in exacerbated mental states, when individuals went beyond themselves.



In these paintings, gathered under the title “The PuZZle of LIFE”, Sofia Pidwell plays the role of a medium, a mediator between the material and the spiritual world, transmuting the shapeless matter into spirit, like the whirling dervishes of Konya – mystic Sufi ascetics, founded in the 13th century by the sublime and mystic Islamic poet Jalal al dim Rumi – who communicate with what they understand to be the divinity whirling in trance on a single foot, in a vertiginous circular dance.



Through the rhythm of Sofia Pidwell’s whirling coloured lines we can also easily imagine a musical score that corresponds to them and to which they are heading: a vibrating bolero, in crescendo, that finally dives into the One, into emptiness, into Nothingness, “… since things have no distinct form in the One (…)” (Plotinus, “Aeneid” IV).


José Sousa Machado