Many of Rui Calçada Bastos’s works, for which he has been using various media such as video, installations, photography and sound, are about intimacy and beauty. From the early days of his career as a painter, Bastos, who has been living in Lisbon and Macau, has moved to working with video, a shift closely related to his frequent changes of residency.
One of the works showing his preoccupation with journeys and the traveller’s gaze consists of two facing video projections of people looking in the direction of the viewer. The situation is mirrored, yet the scenes actually seem to contradict themselves, as one of them depicts faces of people who, while staring strangely at the camera, look in fact familiar. They are people the artist knows, some of them being very close friends. On the second screen, the viewer is confronted with the gaze of people who were filmed on the street, people who have no relation to the artist; a fact viewers are not informed of. Paradoxically, it is through this subtle device that issues of intimacy and familiarity are being depicted in front of us.
One could say that human relations are at the core of Rui Calçada Bastos’s work. His more recent video pieces tell very short dramas containing explicit references to the history of film (e.g. Fritz Lang). Their cinematic qualities owe to a tight narrative structure, as well as to sophisticated editing techniques, revealing a deep knowledge of filmic languages. Characteristically, Calçada Bastos’s fascination with beauty does not derive from a formalist approach, but from a need to understand the rules of attraction.