This is an ambitious project; Prime Matter is a gallery, a platform, and an opportunity to shed light into the art of making art, the art of design and the art of being. Prime Matter’s physical gallery will host periodical exhibitions from different artists and crafts(wo)men who value and respect the source of their materials, a virtuous manufacturing, and a conscious design. Their digital space will not only showcase the works of these artists, but will also tell the stories behind their products, their techniques, and their existence.
The Prime Matter project already existed in Emmanuel Babled’s mind, but when the historical Santos Ofícios shop – specialised in Portuguese handicraft and handmade items – closed its doors during the pandemic after 25 years’ operating, their shop was in danger of becoming a nail salon, and Emmanuel knew he had to act. The Prime Matter gallery space, located in the same building as the Babled Studio, will be honouring the history of the building while giving it a modern twist.
French born, Emmanuel created roots in Italy and Holland before grounding his base in Lisbon. Babled has been working for over 30 years as a furniture and object designer; his style is distinguished by organic forms, excellence of materials and refined craftsmanship. Prime Matter was a natural step in his trajectory: this gallery is an opportunity to bring to light to artworks from different artisans and artists who he has collaborated with over the years, but also to showcase his own designs in the city he has been calling home for the past 7 years.
Prime Matter is a place for exhibitions, debates, and history; a place for art, imagination, and stories; a place to help sediment the ingenious seeds of humankind. The opening will be on the 23rd of May with the exhibition “Xylos”.
The Ancient Greek language had no word for matter, and so Aristotle adapted the word wood for this purpose. Wood has been used by humans for thousands of years, and it has been a pivot material in its development throughout history. Wood can keep the fire going, it can be the structure of a floating city, it can be a ship, a house, a working tool, or a carved sculpture for religious adoration. Wood can take many forms and shapes, it is a dynamic and responsive material, highly adaptable, and just like humans it carries its history in its veins.
For Prime Matter’s first exhibition, wood is the matter addressed by the artists Anders Lunderskov and Emmanuel Babled, either in the form of tables, chairs, jewellery boxes or an immersive magic cube reflecting the wonders of cabinetmaking. This exhibition is a collaboration between both artists who have worked together for many years; Lunderskov is the artisan of Babled’s most special wooden pieces. In this exhibition, some of the works are from Lunderskov’s individual production, and some are the results of their longstanding partnership.
Images courtesy of: @carlolavatori