Henrique Vaz Duarte (HVD) is a most gifted painter and we must be grateful that an inspired spirit (probably his own) has induced him to paint Templar themes and to share with us, the public at large, some of his visions, as materialized in these paintings.
HVD has rightfully and gracefully rendered these rather difficult themes accessible to us all – even when unfamiliar with Templar myth and reality – through the use of elliptical painting: the myth is not explained, but its strenght is visible, as we perceive its effect upon the actor (the complete possession or surrender as in “The Oath” & “The Vision”); see the Temple en-ter our field of perception (from right to left, as if guided by intuition solely, in “Forever”); see the significant fraction of gestures which visibly control the spirit of the actor as a whole (in “…Tuo da gloriam”.).
And the mistery is made denser and stronger through the evocation of signs which are magi-cal for both the iniciate and the layman – “Life”, “Sacred Blood” & “Signs” – and the strong presence of an actor, imbedded in a primeval landscape fit for heroic decisions and tasks.
But the fact that miracles were (are) in the air when Templars are active is masterfully stated in “The Grave’s Guardian” (the Horse’s soul is clearly visible even for the unprepared spectator) and “The Widow” (a woman’s face, looking at a higher value through a small win-dow, a veiled [therefore prudent, laconic if not silent, mouth] far removed from the common, popular image of the loquacious female member of any human group – all suggesting that she has been converted to and assimilated by the higher values of knowledge and true frater-nity or brotherhood)!
So, how can we sump up HVD’s painting of Templar themes? To say the least, we can say it is inspired . But we can also (rightfully) say that it attains with surprising ease art’s real goal: to be easily remembered (or, if you prefer, this art is difficult to forget) even if glimpsed at only once! Knowing some of HVD’s other, previous paintings is an advantage and helped me understand the depth and the intensity of the statement this set of Templar paintings in-volves and the huge effort the painter had to endure to stay focused: he has had to limit the theme to the very essential trait that would be the the unequivocal sign to all – initiates and lay-men alike. Unless HVD has been blessed with a sacred gift and all this production has been achieved with the ease and grace of those who carve great doings without even noticing that they did, or are doing it…
Manuel Pinto Ribeiro
(texto do catálogo da exposição “Templars” - Solo Gallery, Edimburgo, 2004)