than one hundred photographs on display in the exhibition Manoel de Oliveira Photographer are one
of the great surprises that the director's personal archive, deposited entirely
at Serralves, had been holding in reserve. Produced between the late 1930s and
the mid-1950s, these images, stored for several decades and mostly unpublished,
reveal not only an unknown facet of Oliveira — his activity as a photographer —,
but also open up new perspectives on how his filmmaking developed.
Oliveira’s passage through the static image was a decisive stage in his
career as a filmmaker. In dialogue with both pictorialism, constructivism and
Bauhaus' experiments, his photographs are halfway between exploring the
classical values of composition and the modernist spirit running through the
entire first phase of his film work.
Used mostly artistically, photography was an instrument of formal
research and experimentation for Oliveira: another way of questioning, in a
relationship as direct as complementary to the films, and to building his own
now on display will certainly add a new chapter to the
history of Portuguese photography of the 1940s. They are, above all, a precious
instrument to better understand the way Oliveira took on directing photography
in his own films for a period of ten years. They also contextualize, from a
broader perspective, the strict composition and framing that, in general,
feature in all his films. Looking at these images, there is no point in
trying to find out where the photographer begins and the filmmaker ends; nor to
strictly define the extent to which the former may sometimes have taken the
place of the latter. What is important, though, is to question how this
coexistence between two ways of seeing and thinking is embodied in his work.
by António Preto, Director of the Casa do Cinema Manoel de Oliveira.
photographs on display belong to Collection Manoel de Oliveira, Casa do Cinema
Manoel de Oliveira — Fundação de Serralves, Porto.
Discover the exhibition through a guided tour by the CCMO Director, in video: