LUÍS LUCIANO DEMÉE (1928)
THE ESSENTIAL MULTICULTURALISM
Luís Luciano Demée was born in Macau. The Russian architect and painter George Smirnoff was his mentor from 1944 to 1945. After completing his licentiate in Painting, Demée, like many other Portuguese artists of the time, headed for Paris with a scholarship granted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. In 1961 he was invited to the post of assistant professor at the Porto School of Fine Arts.
In the words of António Conceição Junior “Luís Luciano Demée is the most important plastic artist born in Macau” and also “one of the most important Portuguese painters of his generation, who chose a path of retreat and discretion to express himself while shying away from the spotlight, which for someone with his temperament, was always excessive”. The piece Rio das Pérolas (Pearl River) was conceived by the artist, at the bequest of António Conceição Júnior, with a view for it to be reproduced through serigraphs. Here we present the painting that gave origin to a series of serigraphs, its original and its multiple original.
VIEIRA DA SILVA (1908-1992)
THE PAINTING OF SPACE AND DEPTH
Portuguese painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992) was born in Lisbon. By the end of the summer of 1913, on a two-month stay in England marked by the discovery of museums and Shakespeare’s theatre, Vieira decided to become an artist. After studying drawing, painting and sculpture in Lisbon, she went to Paris in 1928, where she was dazzled by the agitation in the French capital, during a period when a multiplicity of ideas were being shared by plastic artists, writers, musicians and dancers. In 1929, Vieira began to dedicate herself exclusively to painting.
Vieira da Silva fabricates her own universe, which she feeds with small things, and her art, which is free from labels. The goal is unpredictable but never improvised. She interprets the act of painting as a means of reaching into herself and out to the world, as well as for the realisation of the union between body and soul. Her work is rendered painful and questioning, but liberating. It alone is the key that, in the face of an unknown space, enables one to go beyond doubt. Only one certainty exists for the painter, which is the refusal of certainty. Each moment is lived intensely to its fullness, but everything suffers transformation. Vieira da Silva’s unmistakable style is one of the determining references of abstract art, even though she preferred to identify herself with lyrical abstractionism.
NADIR AFONSO (1920)
Nadir Afonso was born in Chaves in 1920. He graduated in architecture at the Porto School of Fine Arts in 1946, studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and was granted a scholarship by the French government. He collaborated with the architect Le Corbusier (1948 -1951) and worked in Brazil with architect Oscar Niemeyer (1952-1954) but neither of these experiences were sufficient to demote his view that architecture “is not an art form (…) it is a science, a development through teamwork” and a “labyrinth of contingencies” in which art cannot affirm itself. In 1965, Nadir Afonso abandoned architecture for good.
In the fifties, there was a marked tendency for the use of patterns in Nadir Afonso’s work, in his ‘baroque period’ (which began in 1947) and his ‘Egyptian period’ (1950-1955) of complete geometric stylization. The works of Nadir Afonso on display at the Spirals and Composition Exhibition both date from the ‘Baroque period’, while the serigraphs/screen prints were produced about two decades later.
One of the principal concepts evident in his work is that a work of art is characterised by the laws which govern it: universal mathematical, geometric and spatial laws, combined in a harmonious manner that makes them eternal and immutable, regardless of socio-cultural conditions.
ANTÓNIO PALOLO (1946-2000)
THE RHYTHEM AND COLOUR OF CHROMATIC STRIPS
João António Palolo was born in Évora in 1946. A self-taught artist, he began experimenting with plastics at a young age. The development of his work displays a complicit relationship and attention to his era, which permitted him to research in apparently contradictory directions. António Palolo lived through this imperious need to experiment.
Initially informal, his work advanced towards a more formal clarity, by building an integrated system of organic forms and geometrical structures. The development of this geometrical strand as the seventies arrived, drove him towards a type of pop or psychedelic abstractionism, through the careful articulation of strips of colour, as he progressively became fascinated by the constructive possibilities of symmetry and rhythm. The chromatic strips became the support in his picture game, founded on the use of vibrant colours and the spatial dynamics developed according to the artist’s own models of symmetry and alternation. The works on show in this exhibition are precisely of this period.
NIKIAS SKAPINAKIS (1931)
A PAINTER OF SILENCE AND COLOUR
A painter of silence and colour, Nikias Skapinakis began his studies at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts, having enrolled in architecture, which he gave up soon afterwards. Painting captivates him and he embarked upon his career as an autodidact at the end of the forties.
In a period when the artistic panorama in Portugal was polarized between neo-realists and surrealists, this painter concentrated on a course of synthesis, between the lyricism that comes from things, people and from situations resulting from tangible realities, to transfiguring them in a magical strangeness of atmospheres filled with solitude. But this magical realism does not last. During the fifties, his palette has diversified. The contrasts become more pronounced. The space, closed evermore upon itself, is resolved by articulating forms that are devoid of volume, in colour planes delimited by the stroke. These are collage paintings where the modelled element almost disappears, immobilizing the figures in their gestures.
Nikias Skapinakis works with graphical freedom, especially in the irreverent way he deprives the figures of a corporal or materialistic presence – attributing them value only as a signal or an icon as he flattens them against a white background. These are spectres without volume or shadow, clipped in colours, like the works on show here.
GUILHERME PARENTE (1940)
A MAGMA OF COLOURS
Guilherme Parente was born in Lisbon, in 1940. At the beginning of the 60’s, he studied with Roberto de Araújo at the National Society of Fine Arts, and studied engraving at the Portuguese Engravers Society. Between 1968 and 1970, he attended Slade School in London, with a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. He was awarded the Malhoa Prize in 1975 and the prize for best painting from the National Society of Fine Arts in 1989.
In Guilherme Parente’s painting, there are boats and houses, trees and birds, clouds and rivers. Objects are found as if they were emerging from a magma of colours, which are either squashed or delicately placed on the canvas, as if they were involuntarily born out of chance, through a kind of spontaneous generation process. Slowly, from the implied gesture of the artist, an object comes into view, even a figure who takes contours and colours and begins to exist or to walk, plumes or vapours flowing with the wind of imagination . . .
COSTA PINHEIRO (1932)
THE THEATRICAL SPACE OF IMAGINATION
Portuguese painter António Costa Pinheiro was born in Moura, Alentejo, in 1932. He attended the António Arroio School and the Lisbon Fine Arts School, where he met artists such as Lourdes Castro and René Bèrtholo, who would remain his colleagues and friends during the KWY (‘Ká Wamos Yndo’) adventure (a journal on plastic arts, a project that became tied to the life of the group itself, who would be remembered in the history of Portuguese art by the same name as the journal’s). Costa Pinheiro’s contribution consisted of gesture paintings, in which an engagement in lyrical abstractionism is perceived.
Through the practice of drawing and engraving, he became more attentive to the figurative element. Figures emerge from an indefinite background, asserting themselves in geometrical or character-identifying structures. In his works there is no clear definition of the limits between poetry and painting and where the theatrical space of imagination can be found. The serigraphs that are now on display are good examples of the theatrical and imaginary world that characterize the artist’s work.
EDUARDO NERY (1938)
Eduardo Nery was born in Figueira da Foz in 1938. In 1956, he enrolled as a painting student at the Fine Arts School of Lisbon (ESBAL).
Mosaic, azulejo (Portuguese ceramic tile) and stained glass are art forms that complement architectural and urban space, treated by Nery as arts of spatial intervention, naturally representing a vast aesthetic programme. Much of his research on photography, drawing and painting was employed on the creations he designed to achieve architectural and urban integration. There is one example of this type of work in Macau. In 1995, Eduardo Nery created a massive azulejo panel for Macao International Airport.
Space, an essential element of visual language, is an imagery reference for Eduardo Nery’s painting. Thus, in his pictorial approaches, the austerity of his chromatism goes hand in hand with elementary geometry. Colour and form are jointly manifested on the luminous surfaces of Nery’s work.
In Macao, Eduardo Nery’s first exhibition was held at the old Leal Senado, namely a photography exhibition organised by the Modern Art Centre of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in the 80’s. Eduardo Nery mounted a solo exhibition entitled Cosmos, at Casa Garden (2002) and at Jin Tai Art Museum (2002) in Beijing.
FERNANDO CALHAU (1948-2002)
THE MONOCHROMATIC SQUARE
Born in Lisbon, Fernando Calhau graduated in painting from the Fine Arts School of Lisbon, in 1973. In 1973/74 he attends the Slade School of Fine Arts of London, where he studied under Bartolomeu Dias dos Santos.
Geometric depuration, monochromatism and seriality constitute the foundational precepts of his plastic language. It is a conceptualised language, in that each series is invariably defined by an interaction with a pre-conceived equation, whose result is always novelty, albeit an imperceptible one. The subtlety of this variation derives from the radical containment of the means of expression, a method drawn from the realm of minimal art, which the artist systematically made use of. Through these works, Fernando Calhau sought to slow down the rhythm of the eyes, both his and, necessarily, ours as well. These are works that demand permanence and require time for gazing from the viewer. It is a moment of suspension, which compels us to hold our breath. It is a suspension of time and space.
While geometric delimitation and confinement are essential grammar in Fernando Calhau’s work, his art is sustained through infinite spatial openness. Thus, the piece on display. The insertion of the blue elements enables the construction of another form within the square, which ultimately points in other directions.
SÉRGIO PINHÃO (1949)
THE PAINTER OF LIGHT
Sergio Pinhao embarked upon his study of architecture in 1969 at the College of Fine Arts of Lisbon, where he also studied engraving with João Hogan, beginning in March of that year. He studied serigraphy under the Belgian artist Dacos from 1970.
His paintings reveal a particular interest in light, colour and geometry, particularly circular shapes, as in the case of the piece on display in this exhibition.
The work on display is entitled Ophiuchus (or Serpentarius), which is the name of a zodiac constellation located between Sagittarius and Scorpio. It is represented as a man grasping a serpent (i.e.) the constellation Serpens, which is split into two separate sections - Serpens Caput and Serpens Cauda - but nevertheless counts as one sole constellation.
THE PAINTING OF URBAN LANDSCAPES
“I came from the Orient, where light is born, passed through Africa, where I learnt to love life, arrived in Europe, where I studied painting in the City of Light, after which I settled in Lisbon. Gradually, I retraced the labyrinth path towards the light. Each step reveals, in its own way, this game of light and shadow that is life and death, knowledge and ignorance. I paint. It is an adventure I would not trade for anything else.” Maluda, 1996
Maria de Lurdes Ribeiro, known as Maluda, is one of the most popular Portuguese artist of the last decades of the 20th Century. Malulda was born in the city of Pangim in Goa, which was then a Portuguese colony in India. From 1948, she lived in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) where she started to paint and where she formed, along with four other painters, the group that called itself ‘The Independents’.
Even though she experimented with various techniques, including portraits, serigraphs, illustrations and postage stamps, the crux of Maluda’s works was the synthesis of the urban landscape. According to Pamplona, her art was conceptually similar to that of the master of impressionism, Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), or as Fernando Pernes wrote, her art represents a “systematic decanting of Cézanne’s experience”
JÚLIO POMAR (1926-)
THE FREEDOM OF GESTURE
Pomar studied at the António Arroio School of Decorative Arts plus the Schools of Fine Arts of Lisbon and Porto. He has dedicated himself particularly to painting but his work also includes drawing, engraving, sculpture, ‘assemblage’, illustration, ceramics, tapestry and theatre scenography.
Júlio Pomar has long been acclaimed as one of the greatest European artists. He was the main representative of Neo-Realism in Portuguese painting from 1945 to 1957. After 60 years of dedication to the plastic arts, Pomar continues to exert a remarkable grasp of the brush. His works are vibrant, filled with movement and broad brushstrokes, and demonstrate an impressive versatility, all of which evoke the playful side of life. They range from self-portraits to depictions of the human landscape that surround the artist, such as social or political demonstrations, bullfighting spectacles, horse rides, games of rugby, house pets, tigers, monkeys, fables or the deconstruction of myths. The central axis of all of Pomar’s production is Eros, as can be seen from the piece on display in this exhibition.
RENÉ BERTHOLO (1935-2005)
IMAGES THAT MAKE US DREAM
René Bertholo was born in Alhandra, and studied at the College of Fine Arts of Lisbon (ESBAL) between 1951 and 1957. Between 1953 and 1955, he co-directed the journal Ver (See) and, from 1955 to 1957 the Pórtico Gallery with Lourdes Castro, Escada, Costa Pinheiro and Teresa de Sousa. In 1957, he went to Munich and ,in the following year he settled in Paris, creating with Lourdes de Castro e Costa Pinheiro the group and journal KWY,. In 1959, he was selected to be among Portugal’s representatives at the São Paulo Biennial. In Paris, it was in the context of the ‘Nouvelle Figuration’, the French version of Pop Art advocated by Pierre Restany, that he developed a pictorial individualised ‘writing of things’, thus eschewing that affiliation.
His international networking was considerable until the end of the 70’s, when he decided to move back to Portugal and live in the Algarve. In 1974, painting began to replace accumulation art through compartmentalisation into episodes, which gave rise to the ‘rooms’ full of things. Bertholo refers to the pleasure of mixing everything in one imaginary space but providing now a floor for all the usually aerial elements: characters from traditional fiction, embryonic forms between the vegetal and the animal, puzzles and inventories of motley objects from trivial everyday life.
His art during the subsequent decades continued to be characterised by the secondary use of colour in relation to design and graphics, in a permanent attempt to reconstitute objects from memory and create subjective images, which Bertholo hoped to “to make us feel moved and dream”.
HORIZONTAL, VERTICAL AND CURVE LINES
Jorge Pinheiro was born in Coimbra in 1931, where he lived until he was 24 years old, studying at the Porto School of Fine Arts between 1955 and 1963, where he became a professor from 1963 until 1976. He then became a teacher at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts.
Initially, his field of artistic production was characterized by its expressionist and figurative tendencies. Travelling in Europe in 1966, Jorge Pinheiro came into contact with geometric abstractionism. His paintings became objects whose form of support depended on the element represented. The paintings overcame the limitations previously imposed by the support, which became but a conditioning element. In his large scale paintings, the surface became smooth chromatic areas populated by elementary geometric forms.
During the seventies, the picture field is structured through vertical and horizontal lines, constituting well defined chromatic zones, upon which dynamic curves appear.
LOURDES DE CASTRO (1930)
THE LIGHT AND THE SHADOWS
Born in Funchal in Madeira Island, in 1930, Lourses de Castro commenced her studies in painting in 1950 at the College of Fine Arts of Lisbon, from which she graduated six years later.
Following a brief stay in Munich, she settled in Paris with René Bertholo, whose work is also represented in this exhibition. Together, they created the journal Ká Wamos Yndo (KWY) (1958-1963) as well as a homonymous group with which other artists were associated, such as Bulgarian Christo, German Jan Voss and Portuguese José Escada, João Vieira, Gonçalo Duarte and Costa Pinheiro (who is also featured in this exhibition). The existence of the KWY group resulted in a number of collective exhibitions (Saarbrücken, 1960; Lisbon, 1960; Paris, 1961; Bologna, 1962), an active publishing programme and the production of serigraphs.
Around 1960, Lourdes de Castro’s abstractionist concerns, which she initially expressed via numerous canvases, were radically changed. Sensitive to the affirmation of ‘Nouveau Réalisme’, she focused on the creation of objects built through a process of ‘assemblage’ of daily used consumer goods. These scraps, impregnated with memories of the experienced world, were stored in boxes and covered in silver-coloured paint. The production of this kind of work drove the artist towards developing a profound interest in shadow. All her later work is focused on the study of shadow as a dematerialized contour and a paradoxical sign of the presence of objects and subjects, whenever light shines upon them.
JOSÉ DE GUIMARÃES (1939)
A FRAGMENTED AESTHETIC
José de Guimarães is regarded as one of the most important Portuguese plastic artists of contemporary art. Creator of notable works, particularly in the field of painting, he has also made incursions into sculpture and other creative activities at an aesthetic level, both nationally and internationally. In his work, colour plays a fundamental role with the human body being his principal theme. One of the most highly awarded Portuguese aestheticians, José de Guimarães’s work is exhibited in museums and public collections the world over.
Pop art will always be present in his work. José de Guimarães has created an authentic alphabet where each pictograph finds explicit meaning, in a kind of ideographic language of signals. It creates forms that are always fragmented and can be combined with each other to represent diverse cultural heritage. Is a aesthetics of the fragmentation. A vocabulary used as a puzzle.
During the eighties, the artist solidified his pictorial alphabet in his famous ‘pseudo – esculturas’ (pseudo - sculptures), or ‘pinturas – objecto’ (object - paintings) or even ‘picto – esculturas’ (picot - sculptures) as they were called by some art critics. These works established a duel between the bi-dimensional and tri-dimensional. The monochromatic statues that decorate the Arts Garden in Macau are precisely from this period. With is multiple journeys to Macau and Hong Kong, Chinese characters and the Neon became part and enriched his vocabulary.
JULIÃO SARMENTO (1948- )
THE TELLER OF BITS OF STORIES
Born in 1948 in Lisbon, where he studied at the College of Fine Arts (ESBAL), Juliao Sarmento started to hold solo exhibitions in the mid-70’s. His internationalization began early on in his career and has remained intense until today, due to the acknowledgment of the quality of his work. Julião Sarmento’s participation in the Venice Biennial in 1997 as a Portuguese representative, and in 2002 in the São Paulo Biennial, are paradigmatic examples of this internationalization.
Through many art forms (painting, drawing, video, photography and installation) Julião Sarmento works on the process of interrupting, through non-explicitness, effacing, or the multiplication of screens. The places, movements and actions of and/or on the body provide an important set of clues for the viewer’s reading. Julião Sarmento works on the distance between bodies, words, images and repetitions. Sarmento sees himself as one who likes to experiment with things, directed above all at himself and his enjoyment of risk, visual effectiveness and the power to seduce.
The work on display is a serigraph with chop-marks and serigraphed stapled paper on Fabriano paper (210 grams). This piece was printed in Lisbon by António Inverno and edited by the Society of Portuguese Engravers, namely 200 edition proofs (1/200 to 200/200) and 30 proofs in Roman numerals (I/XXX to XXX/XXX).
ROGÉRIO RIBEIRO (1930-2008)
Rogério Ribeiro graduated in painting from the College of Fine Arts of Lisbon. He was co-founder of Gravura – Portuguese Society of Engravers (1956), where he was intensely involved as an engraver. Individuals as well as companies and official bodies commissioned a number of ceramic and tapestry works from him.
He started teaching at the College of Fine Arts of Lisbon in 1970, where in 1974 he co-ordinated the group that was to restructure the curriculum in the field of design.
For Rogério Ribeiro, “to paint or to draw is like penetrating a thick darkness, while knowing that it is bound to close behind us”.
“His painting and drawing refuse the more or less rhetorical persuasions of those that have a supreme command of technique; they are, on the contrary, ontological projections of his mental and sensitive space”, wrote José Saramago about the artist’s work.
THE PAINTER WHITHOUT WORDS
“How does a painter talk about his paintings, if he hates the marketing of theories and of poses, if he refuses the siege of celebrity and the simple portrayal of the appearance of things?” - Menez
Menez, whose real name was Maria Inês Carmona Ribeiro da Fonseca, was completely self-taught in the beginning until obtaining training in Paris and London. Her style can be classified as abstract, but she slowly moved within a certain neo-impressionism that was practically unheard of in Portugal at the time.
The originality of her painting is recognised by the way she works with space and also for the quality of its light. There is an inherent quality of silence in her work, which derives in part from the fact that most of them are untitled: “The painting must speak for itself, without the need for words”, said the painter in a rare statement about her own work.
It is said that there is no title that can name her work, nor a caption that can describe it. Sofia de Mello Breyner, a famous Portuguese poet wrote: “Her images are an incantation of the unknown and have suspended within them the reflection of a nameless and occult depth.”
NUNO BARRETO (1941-2008)
PAINTER OF THE SPIRIT OF THE PLACE
Born in Porto in 1941, António Barreto studied at the College of Fine Arts of the same city, where he graduated in 1967 with the highest honours. He took his postgraduate studies at the prestigious Saint Martin's School of Art in London. He then taught at the College of Fine Arts of Porto, where he directed the Serigraphy Workshop for 15 years. He is the author of the first manual of serigraphy, published by that college in 1970.
Upon being invited to work in Macao, he founded and developed the School of Visual Arts, which opened in 1989, and where he was responsible for training several contemporary artists such as Guilherme Ung Vai Meng.
Generally considered the best Portuguese painter of the last several decades in Macao, it is here that his work gained more prominence. Of this painting, Fernando António Baptista Pereira wrote: "In Nuno Barreto’s painting we are surprised by a very special talent that captures the spirit of a place, as well as the feelings of the people living in it. However, the painter does it with an ingeniousness that combines a taste for synthesis, at times geometricalizing space,
and the ironizing of behaviour and situations".