João de Carvalho’s sculptures have unique characteristics. The singular plasticity of leather gives a strong organic component to his pieces. By coating the bodies with a second skin, his models acquire their own life and energy that goes far beyond the physical boundaries and actually gives them a soul. Carvalho is properly acquainted with the specificities of the skin and manages to obtain perfect modeling; where the result resembles a mold. Impressively, he gets a detailed involvement while sculpting the fingers and features. The wrinkles and ripples caused by the handling of leather instill movement and vitality. A set of opposing tensions, a constant push-and-pull movement that, as if by magic, create the high relief from where the bodies emerge, before only imprisoned in smooth skin. Therefore, oddly enough, his sculpture is the product of a bi-dimensional and tri-dimensional blend. A two-dimensional plan that works like a mantle, covering the entire model, revealing the most prominent areas. In this way, and with subtlety, Carvalho reveals or hides the body parts that he intends to display or disguise. His artworks are anatomy pieces, capable of revealing shapes according to their sensuality.
The compositions are quite impressive, with well-studied poses, projecting a Renaissance movement wrapped with immense sensuality. The panel is unified into a whole; the shape of the several figures continuously slides between them, in a hunting-like connection that emphasizes gesture and movement.
The skin reminds us of several substances: sometimes carrying traits of liquid that flows through the bodies, covering them sensually. Alternatively, it could be viewed as being as hard as a solid element, resistant to time and endowed with a peculiar texture, through which the soul finds its escape. Carvalho strips them of their clothing but puts on a skin, which, like a sensual garment, subtly unleashes a seductive nude.
By Pedro Boaventura • Excerpt from Masters of Contemporary Fine Art - Volume 3