Portugal Arts Part I

In Lisbon, the headquarters of the C. Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG), designed in 1961 by Portugal Cid (b.1925) and R. Atouguia (b.1917) and inaugurated in 1969, and the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (competition 1961; 1963-75) in the district of Santa Marta – with its complex that is staggered between two streets of different levels, designed by N. Teotonio-Pereira (b.1922) and N. Portas (b.1934) – marked an important date in the Portuguese artistic panorama, and were the most significant expression in the architectural field at the end of the 1960s. The following decade opened with two other significant events: the exhibition dedicated to the work of the architect R. Lino, then ninety years old, champion of Portuguese traditionalism, and the first presentation in Portugal of the work of the painter MH Vieira da Silva, who had left Fr. École de Paris. While elaborating a research detached from the aesthetic path of Portuguese tradition, Vieira da Silva (d.1922) has always maintained a sentimental and cultural relationship with her homeland, which is reflected in her labyrinthine compositions in which the reflections of the azulejos shine of Lisbon.

According to clothingexpress, the creation of the Portuguese section of the Association des Critiques d’Art (AICA) and a representation of the country in the Comité International d’Histoire de l’Art (CIHA), in the late 1960s, had significant consequences: the Soquil, an important The painting prize, a private initiative on the margins of official institutions, allowed, between 1968 and 1972, to highlight 22 young artists, constituting as a whole a sort of balance sheet of the artistic life of the period; balance that, in 1971, had another notable expression on the walls of A Brasileira do Chiado, the famous intellectual café which in the 1920s constituted the ” modernist ” museum: eleven modernist paintings, mostly collected by the C. Gulbenkian Foundation, were replaced by as many works by young painters selected by AICA, exponents of various currents, from surrealism to abstractionism, to neo-figurativeism: J. Rodrigo (b.1912), F. Azevedo (b.1923), M. Vespeira (b.1924), N. Skapinakis (b.1931), J. Hogan (1914-1985), C. Calvet (b.1928), E. Nery (b.1933), J. Vieira (b.1934), Noronha da Costa (b.1942), M. Baptista (b.1936), A. Palolo (b. 1946).

Another positive event took place in 1973 with the inauguration of the monument to King Sebastian in Lagos: arousing not only scandal but also threats, the work of J. Cutileiro offered a heterodox image of the “ mannerist ” king par excellence of the 16th century, in striking contrast to the series of ” nationalist ” statues that the New State of Salazar had scattered throughout the country.

The revolution of April 25, 1974, opening the country to a democratic regime, gave a new meaning to the decade. On 10 June a group of 48 painters rushed to execute the 48 squares of an immense panel in honor of the “ Carnation Revolution ”: personal formulas, experimented or improvised, allusive or explosive, constituted a very irregular work where the abstract and the conceptual was joined by an ancient imagerie that revived the neorealism of the years around 1945. The revolutionary enthusiasm of the Portuguese artists was exhausted in this panel, which was destroyed in a fire in 1981; a sad reality arose in the crisis that took place immediately after.

The limited art market, which had had an abnormal evolution in the period of banking euphoria towards the end of the regime, during the government of Caetano, had a total collapse; but the crisis was even more profound, affecting the very ethics of artistic life. An elusive Popular Action Front of plastic artists brought together those mediocre people who wanted to take advantage of the para-revolutionary situation with the support of a military-police department and with the passage of the Secretariat of State for Culture to the Ministry of Information. With an evident propaganda intention directed by the Stalinist Communist Party, the Front attempted to seize the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (SNBA) and to exert pressure also on the C. Gulbenkian Foundation. A dictatorship, as is normal, hid another: the one that wanted to officially impose itself as the ” tribunal of taste ”, preventing, among other things, considering it anti-progressive, the realization of a large exhibition of Portuguese modern art at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

After this difficult moment of national life, a situation of calm led to slow rhythms, in the general disinterest, both artists and the public and the political forces, unable to solve economic problems and even less to define a significant structural action of the new social situation. -cultural. After twenty years of the ” Second Republic ”, the balance of what has been achieved by successive governments – of various or opposite political beliefs – is, as far as the visual arts are concerned, globally negative.

In a short time the rural landscape was destroyed throughout the country by a poor institutionalized architecture of emigrants, with the complacency of local authorities who did not acquire the necessary culture under the new regime. Likewise, the architectural heritage has continued to degrade, despite the organization of specialized institutes that have elaborated questionable reforms, always lacking a definitive cultural policy and competent elements for their implementation. Museums also continued to suffer from similar evils, with functional indecisions, although generous subsidies began to arrive in this field too, the proper use of which was being discussed, from European Community funds.

Portugal Arts 1