Seabed Monsters and the Cosmic Rays

Written in September 2021.
Oh the glamour, the lights! Pink walls, ring lights, the manta rays. “I wish those lights could make the pain go away/ I wish those lights could make them come back again” sings Luís Lázaro Matos in the background.

“Seabed Monsters and the Cosmic Rays” is an all-encompassing tour de force where the artist plays a man of seven trades. Painter, singer, composer, videomaker, ceramist and the occasional readymade user, Luís Lázaro Matos brings together an out-of-this-world site-specific installation.

Walls painted floor to ceiling in the artist’s characteristic style, cartoon mata rays paving the floors, ring lights as if air bubbles floating midair. The room makes you be aware of your own body, the volume you occupy in the space, so you don’t inadvertently step on a subaquatic creature. You might find yourself walking on moon gravity, slowly pacing, slowly floating, long steps, high knees just like in the ocean.

The installation lies in a different realm. A place between sea and space where there lacks a whole earth. Or might it be us, the visitors? The terrestrial beings linking what is above and below us in a mashup where compasses don’t work.

It calls for enumeration, the conflux of elements verges on impossible to describe. The artist mixes traditional art media like large canvases and ceramics with more contemporary art forms such as video animation. This too can be seen on the themes the artist approaches, a bearded half-man half-octopus creature evokes ideas of the ancient greek, Poseidon and his underwater world. The mention of Bermuda Triangle in the song and the drawings of planes bring forth old stories like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Le Petit Prince”. Tales of the unknown.

On the other hand, it’s hard to get past the ring lights, as one could have sworn they were for the exclusive use of Tik Tokers. While they serve the purpose of UFOs in the enchanted manta ray world, they too fit perfectly with the contemporary pop imaginary Luís Lázaro Matos has accustomed us to.

All in all, despite the fear of sounding short of intellect for the default contemporary art text, “Seabed Monsters and the Cosmic Rays” looks like a manta ray casting for the music video that is playing in the background and I’m in love with the thought of it.

It’s fun, it’s unpretentious, unexpected and an overall feel-good experience. They say we know more about space than the depths of the ocean, when the two are combined the only thing we can rest assured is we know close to nothing.

It’s an ode to the mysterious, the impossible, the mythological. Humans once created myths to explain the unexplainable, artists now extrapolate to know their unknown. Might the bottom of the ocean feature a manta ray videoclip? We will never know.

Seabed Monsters and the Cosmic Rays at Galeria Madragoa, Luís Lázaro Matos, September 2021

Mariana Baião Santos

Art Writer

London-based freelance writer & curator fluent in Portuguese and English. Mariana is a Contributing writer for Portuguese Art Magazine Umbigo and has been collabotaring with some London Galleries.

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