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Body, Abstraction and Language in Portuguese Art: Deposits from the Secretary of State for Culture in the Serralves Collection
from 19 DEC 2017 to 08 APR 2018
‘Body, Abstraction and Language in Portuguese Art’ presents 30 works from the Secretary State for Culture (SEC) Collection on deposit in the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. This exhibition represents both the foundations of the Serralves Collection and a singular perspective on the Portuguese art context of the 1960s and 1980s. The works displayed express the various dialogues and formal confluences that Portuguese artists were able to establish both with each other and the global art context in the post-war period. One of the most remarkable aspects of Portuguese art of these decades is the relative indifference to the most conceptual and performative aspects of art, or simply using them as a means. Some artists did use them, for instance Graça Morais, António Palolo and José de Carvalho; and they were absolutely essential at specific times in the careers of Alberto Carneiro, Ângelo de Sousa and Julião Sarmento. In contrast, what this exhibition aims to show is the way in which painting and sculpture have been fundamentally important to all these artists and their artistic and conceptual explorations.

Most of the selected artists studied and began their careers in the difficult environment of the Portuguese dictatorship, where censorship and political and civic repression led to imprisonment (as with Júlio Pomar and Nikias Skapinakis), or to what amounted to forced and permanent exile (as happened with António Dacosta, Jorge Martins and Paula Rego). In the second half of the 1950s, several Portuguese artists who would become leading figures in the last third of the twentieth century were able to study abroad, usually in Paris or London, with occasional stays in Munich or New York, as was the case with Lourdes Castro, René Bertholo, João Vieira, Jorge Martins, Alberto Carneiro, Ângelo de Sousa and Eduardo Batarda. This contact with the international context allowed them to combine the modernist research of artists of the previous generation, such as Júlio Pomar, Fernando Lanhas, Nikias Skapinakis and Joaquim Rodrigo, with the visual and aesthetic preoccupations of new artistic centres.

These artists were well aware of how European and American art explored the blurring of boundaries between high and popular culture; the interest in the various manifestations of reality and media communication and the dematerialization of the art object. Their choice of painting and sculpture was motivated by the imperative need to undo a regime of images dependent on the ideological propaganda of the Estado Novo (New State), linked to the representation of the conservative and popular values of a society that wanted to be static, and create new ways of seeing and imagining reality, in keeping with the dynamic vision of a changing world.
  • LocationCentro de Cultura Contemporânea de Castelo Branco
  • Days 19 DEC 2017 - 08 APR 2018

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