Memory of my father

February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Manuel Pereira da Silva was extremely methodical in arranging his day-to-day, geometric, like his designs. Every day rose at 6:00 am, did his gymnastic exercises in the room, was followed by a walk of half an hour and was at school at 7:30 am, an hour before starting classes, was the first to arrive, in order to read the news in the press and talk with friends and colleagues.

At school he was known as the white coat, because he used a white coat in his classes, this white coat who also used every afternoon in his studio. Because he had classes in the morning, every afternoon went to the studio, before passing the downtown Oporto cafes, to chat with friends and play some snooker billiards, and only then went to his studio, sometimes in company of friends, they also artists like the sculptor Aureliano Lima, the painter Reis Teixeira, sculptor Fernando Fernandes, the sculptor Arlindo Rocha, among others.

The Sunday was the only day that he didn´t go to the studio, as well as the entire month of August, when went to the beach with the family. The evenings, after dinner were spent sleeping when “watching TV” or friends came to fetch him home to go to meetings: of Firemen department, the various Avintes authorities, the Socialist Party, who was militant, the Avintes Village Council, he arrived to be President, for three months, instead of the President who had fallen ill. Always refused to play senior positions in any of the institutions of his homeland, which has never left, except for a brief period after his degree at the Oporto School of Fine Arts, had been in Paris for over a year in company of some fellow students. Never felt the need to travel, the places he frequented in his daily routines and the imagination was his world.

One of the traits of his personality was never talking about himself, to avoid talking about himself inundated people with questions, this of course, with all those people who approached, sometimes on the street, on the bus, whenever he was. Another feature was never complain about anything, never complained of students, colleagues, friends, family, health, life, lack of money, the government, in short, what people usually complain.

Manuel Pereira da Silva had always the notion that the artistic life was incompatible with marriage and having children. Today I see that his artistic creation had three distinct phases:

The 1st phase, which lasts until age 40, when he married and a year later was born the daughter and the following year his son, before the wedding period was of great artistic creativity, staged after the Bachelor in the sculptor Henrique Moreira studio, where he worked with Sousa Caldas, Lagoa Henriques and Mário Truta at the Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular Wars, in the Boavista square, in Oporto, participated in several group exhibitions, at the Oporto Comercial Athenaeum, with the Independents group, three consecutive years, in Caldas da Rainha, in Viana do Castelo, SNBA (National Society of Fine Arts), the Portuguese World exhibition in Mozambique, the Portuguese State had orders: to Angola (Luanda), for Guinea-Bissau (Bolama), to the Oporto Justice Palace, also had orders of the Church: to make evocative fresh of “Passion of Christ” in the Santa Luzia Church, in Viana do Castelo, Our Lady of Areosa in the Areosa Church, in Oporto, and some busts of priests;

The 2nd phase, of build a family, forced him to be a secondary school teacher and accept all kinds of orders, not all, because he never accepted to do saints, some immigrant communities in France and Canada, specifically, made this request and this was perhaps the few things he refused. Because for the friends he always accepted their requests in a generous way, i.e. never charged a penny for his work he made for all Avintes institutions, including for the Avintes Church, despite being an atheist, always had an enormous respect for people and institutions at various stages of his life, curiously, drew several pictures of Christ, without being per order. In this particular period made ​​busts of Avintes people and public figures such as the journalist Fernando Pessa, Professor José Hermano Saraiva, Major Valentim Loureiro, many priests and businessmen, moreover, and this is another trait of his personality, made ​​busts of all the artists who worked with and his whole family: grandfather, father, children, grandchildren and his own bust in stone;

The 3rd phase comes after retiring from teaching, there began again to have large orders, such as the Tribute to the Industrial Furniture, made ​​by the Paredes City Council, the abstract figure to the gas station on the A1, in Gaia, among other. But it is mainly in his studio, in the morning and afternoon, which he delivers with passion to his artistic creations. These are works that never came to be exposed, unless two years ago at the invitation of Casa Museu Teixeira Lopes who wanted to do a retrospective of his work and it showed a small part of these works. Another trait of his personality is that since the 50s, that is, for about 60 years, refused all invitations to participate in exhibitions, both in the House Museum Teixeira Lopes, who invited regularly, wants the Soares dos Reis Museum, or from some galleries, especially that of his colleague and friend Jaime Isidoro.

While visiting the Museums and Galleries regularly in Oporto, by the invitation of friends and colleagues for their exhibitions, always held fondly these catalogs with dedications of those artists.

I Can’t fail to mention the only exposure that he ever mentioned that was when the Gulbenkian inaugurated the exhibition of the sculptor Henry Moore in 198, in Lisbon. It was a shock to him, because he thought that those sculptures he saw for the first time, had similarities to his own, he judged to be the first to express in that kind of language, reclining women, human figures with holes, human figures with geometric shapes. It was at this point that he no longer express this way, thus had a long period in which only drew, and then he began to pay attention the sheets of paper lying on the ground could be worked and acquiring human forms, sometimes women, sometimes men.

As a final note, it is more a concern of mine, and a challenge to those who might be reading this blog, whenever I ask this question to all my colleagues in the school where I work, who graduated at the Faculty of Fine Arts, painters, sculptors, architects, designers, which is as follows:

Tell me what is the style or art movement of the works of Manuel Pereira da Silva?

The answer has often been a shrug, a silence, a don’t know!

Initially I was disappointed, pursued a better answer, until I realize that this was indeed the correct answer. Manuel Pereira da Silva never intended to represent an era, an artistic period, a movement, as some of his colleagues and friends when they created the “Independent” group in the 40s, in Oporto, at the time were students, which the group intended to break with the past and at the same time free themselves from all the “isms” of all currents and trends and create their works with full freedom. I note that is precisely what the artists currently intend to do, each artist represented himself, without country, without current or movement creates its own artistic language.

Manuel Pereira da Silva had a creative proximity to some fellow artists and friends, as Aureliano Lima, Reis Teixeira, Fernando Fernandes and Arlindo Rocha, with whom he shared his studio, a relationship marked by passion with the work of art, are what could be called a compagnons de route. Reflected the taste of working together, sharing, exchange of ideas, and interaction outside the studio space in the downtown Oporto cafes.

Manuel Pereira da Silva began his activity as a sculptor in the sculptor Henrique Moreira studio, while intern recently graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Oporto, this place where he met my mother, niece of Henry Moreira.

Henrique Moreira was at that time in the 40, 50, 60 and 70 the only artist in the Oporto city, he lived exclusively on his artistic activity, all other artists were mostly secondary school teachers. Has devoted a lifetime only to the sculptural production in Portugal. After his graduation went to work in the studio of Master Teixeira Lopes. His work, figurative, and academic centered representation of distinguished and popular figures, the largest and most substantial part of his vast work was produced for the Oporto city, is therefore rightly considered “the Oporto sculptor”.

Manuel Pereira da Silva during the period he worked in the atelier of Henry Moreira collaborated with him in the realization of low-reliefs at the Rivoli Theatre and Oporto Coliseum, and even the “Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular Wars” in the Boavista square.

Manuel Pereira da Silva has abstract aesthetic tendencies, whose main theme is the human figure and as subthemes: the man, the woman, the couple, the family, the motherhood. Generally the creative process begins with one or several drawings on paper, A4 paper, which can then move to a larger format, bristol board, then can move to the canvas, first drawing with pencil on the canvas and then painting, using various materials: gouache, watercolor, Indian ink, or oil, finally can convert to a sculpture, first made ​​in clay, then in plaster in aluminum structure, just passing the bronze if orders. The purpose of all these studies prepared in drawings, mostly with the pen (Bic) could be made in pencil or crayon, is turning them into sculptures.

Manuel Pereira da Silva intended only to develop a personal project, sought the uniqueness, sought leverage all mankind in him without imposing anything on anyone. Never offered as a gift is works, as is the case with many of the artists he knew, was common they offer as birthday present their work.

However had a peculiar habit at Christmas every year sent a postcard to his friends with a poem of his own. When did eighty, the Gaia City Council together with the Avintes Village Council, honored him with the Medal of Cultural Merit, in a dinner, one of his friends met all these postcards and surprised us all exposing them in a cardboard on the walls of the restaurant. Only at this moment the family had knowledge of it.

The Pereira da Silva collection has about 700 drawings, 280 paintings and 140 sculptures. With the release of this collection I intend to share with the general public the legacy left by Manuel Pereira da Silva to his family, in time thereby perpetuating his artwork.

Pedro Cabrita Reis

February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I don’t consider the triangle gallery / critic (curator) / Collector valid. Artists validation is done by the artists, museum circuit, curators, critics, etc., and finally collectors, in that order and no other.

The collecting is an obsession, it’s a constant search for a construction of a model of understanding the world through works of art. It is a kind of new world, i.e., he reconstructs an understanding of history, of their own position in the world through works of art that will bring to you. The collector turns out to be the artists “compagnon de route“, and are welcomed by the artists within it, are respected and eventually become an integral part of the lives of artists and art history.

The galleries have as fundamental concern historically legitimized artists, who are their insurance while apart from that investment are always cast into the fire, poor souls who do not know this, a number of new artists who are burned time after time, without having thought about it before and allowed to go on the siren song of the galleries in the hope of having an opportunity to achieve fame, there is a logic of marketing of new products, gallerists sitting at the door of the stairs of the Fine Arts Schools waiting for them, make an exhibition and send them home again, waiting for the next.

The art fairs and biennials and the system itself are prepared for it, for a very rapid rotation of names in order to feed a vicious and voracious appetite for novelty by the art market, which is designed to create added value, this is economy, has nothing to do with art.

Julião Sarmento

February 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

A Portuguese gallery can never be able to put a Portuguese artist in Gagosian gallery.

Portugal has zero power, how a gallery that is part of this Portuguese status may have some power?

I think there are no art collectors in Portugal. Joe Berardo is an investor; Francisco Capelo made ​​him the collection in a time of “fat cows” when things were dirt cheap.

The art fairs replaced the museums, however they are fairs they aren’t exhibitions. The main art fairs today are Basel, Basel Miami and New York Freeze. In Portugal there are no art fairs.

Nowadays anyone that wants to do an exhibition in Portugal is a lost investment, I have no financial return.

Paulo Cunha e Silva

February 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Since 1990 I have been developing at the Serralves Foundation, rather systematically, around the major contemporary issues but there is always an artistic thinking behind.

An exhibition is particularly a problem, and it is primarily a will to enunciate it and after you try to solve it, don’t close it but until complicate it and give it other opportunities that before been formulated the problem doesn’t had. I don’t delivery for an exhibition with a list of artists to stick in place, I delivery with an open mind. Of course everything is very contingent because there are affinities, which somehow influence the curator. There isn’t a white, generic, pure curation, curation is always made of knowledge’s of tastes and affinities with artists with whom we live and work, and so this decontamination is never possible.

The artists who have more success in Portugal, at least apparently, don’t have galleries in Portugal, as the case of Joana Vasconcelos or Pedro Cabrita Reis. The Julião Sarmento has a Portuguese gallery, Cristina Guerra and then has international galleries.

The figure of gallery is a bit bizarre, often because the private collector always tries to dodge paying a substantial percentage of the value of the work, 30 % to 40 %, and is looking to buy directly to the artist. The relationship between artist and gallery is very complicated, it is an almost marital relationship, and as such the size of betrayal is implied. The history of Portuguese artists and galleries is made ​​up of these small betrayals.

The competition is increasing, the artists are desperate to get a gallery, gallery owners promote artists but when they gain some notoriety jump to another gallery owner that promote him in a more effective way and thus these relationships are relationships of interest.

Due to the crisis we are witnessing the creation of a kind of union of artists, artists associations that try to protect these malevolent figures of some galleries, which in this case will still suck more blood from the poor artists.

From the conversations I have had with major galleries, the domestic market is completely stopped, and international conditioning with regard to Portuguese artists.

The role of art criticism has been dimmed a bit and has been occupied by the figure of the curator, the artist feels closer to the curator than to the critical, because the curator is one that you can put the works in the exhibition, and curator is also a critic, also has a speech about the works.

Situations looked great promiscuity between critical and more private and personal situations of critics who ought to have some pure, some asepsis. The independence of criticism is one thing that is very questionable.

I think in the future there will be two main parts, the curator – critic and the curator – producer.

The Art Institute results from the merger of the Institute of Performing Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art, there was no contest, the doorbell rang up and people who were friends of those responsible had an easier time making their exhibits or put in charge of the schedule than others they weren’t. When I was president of the Institute of Arts, I started to introduce the support to the program of the arts in 2003 and 2005.

The internationalization is closely associated with the brand of each country, and Portugal is a country that has a very weak brand, and so the ability to the country to drag his artists is highly conditioned, very doomed, no systematic approaches.

Joana Vasconcelos is a popular artist, created a great empathy with the public, i.e., she created a short circuit between the public and her work that isn’t created by the system, no critics, no curators, no galleries, she as created a direct relationship. Because she created a mechanism for very fast desubjectivation, her work is somewhat inter-subjective, and is work as an immediate empathy, easy empathy.

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Bernardo Pinto de Almeida was always involved in institutional collections. Been linked to the collection of Serralves in the buying commission between 85 and 92, then in 92-95 was linked to the group that organized the MEIAC collection in Badajoz, from 1996 to 2002 in the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation. As critical was linked to the Portuguese collector activity and its transformation over 25 years.

As curator of collections was connected to the Serralves Foundation, a committee that included Fernando Pernes, Alexandre Melo and architect Nuno de Almeida, the program was to equip the future museum of modern art in a consistent collection from the viewpoint of modern art without ever losing sight of the contemporary Portuguese art from the 60s to the 80s .

We have several museums of contemporary art that does not fulfill this function, as Serralves and Chiado. The problem is that they behave as centers of art and not as museums, with exception of the Gulbenkian Foundation, which is a modernist collection. Secondly, the state in Portugal don’t watch as they should cultural practices of museums to which they give money, if they are to comply with the statutes, we don’t have a commission to examine it, as there is in England, with the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art), who watches in fact, also exists in Spain, France and USA.

For example, at a certain point rose suspicious relations between the Chiado Museum and Elypse Foundation, for the simple reason that the director of Chiado was also curator of Elypse Foundation and many artists who had exhibited in the Chiado were exposed in Elypse Foundation.

The problem is that Portugal 1000 potential collectors, perhaps only 50 or less have a small idea of what exists in the collections of museums and aren’t sufficiently clarified the processes that led to it. In Portuguese institutions are still in the plane of the taste, the museum has such a director who likes croissant with ham, the other has a museum that just likes the Portuguese water, and then the artists that aren’t neither in nor another group can never see their work exhibited.

Nasoni gallery had a great impact on the art market to inflate prices, because it sought to create a international dynamicl. And early on I removed myself for not agreeing with it. When the gallery began to create reputation, visibility and money, some of the greedy founders dropped the boat and enjoy the gains to go away. First point, the livelihood disappeared; second problem: the Nasoni had no serious cultural project, many of the artists with whom they worked by chance, some were good, some were bad, and some were so so. There were many artists who came and went and those who stayed weren’t the best nor the most interesting. Therefore, with so many losses Nasoni fell, creating the illusion that there was a market for art. The market is blind, where judges will give more.

The art critic is an agent who works on the side of the artist, which protects them from the bad market, has the role of producing a thought built on what art teaches that comprises the language of art and translates for everyone.

Fernando Pessoa, plus a great poet is a great critic who was constantly challenging the creation that is around him. In Portugal there are very few critics who currently do. Today there is a regression in this field, the newspapers were closed. There is moreover a dissemination of critical reviews on the internet, but that very few people come because they work in close groups, tend to tribalism. I think I have been part of the last generation of critics existed in Portugal in the sense that there were several voices who thought differently and that sometimes digladiat and argued among themselves. This generation was absorbed almost all by the institutions, and therefore there was no public space should welcome that, as in other countries.

In Spain and France it is very strong, the newspapers want young interns who say some things about art at this time there is no art magazines in Portugal.

Alexandre Melo

February 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Alexandre Melo is curator of the Private Bank collection and Elypse Foundation. The collection of Private Bank was a collection started more than half a dozen years and was originally a collection of contemporary Portuguese art only and that was to be gathered under the protocol between the Private Bank and the Serralves Foundation, according to which works from the collection of the Private Bank be deposited in Serralves, which made the acquisition criteria and acquisitions were decided in collaboration with me as responsible for the collection of the Private Bank and the artistic director of Serralves, Vicente Tolodi at the time, even at that time with the collaboration of João Fernandes, and later with João Fernandes as director.

After 3 or 4 years of work became an exhibition of the collection of the Bank in Serralves, which occupied the entire space of the museum, only Portuguese art. Later Dr. João Rendeiro, President of the Bank, has decided to make an international art collection, continuing the collaboration with Serralves. With the evolution of the collection has an international dimension with Dr. João Rendeiro had the idea to create the Elypse Foundation, headed by him, with the assistance of other people from Portugal, Brazil and Spain, is an international foundation based in the Netherlands, though the center array is in Portugal, with the most ambitious goal of building a collection of international contemporary art that will become a reference collection for the period from the turn of the century, the end of the XX century, beginning of XXI century. There are 3 curators and then there is a panel of consultants with whom we formally met once or twice a year.

The collection has three components, have the artists that we consider historical, with works from the late ‘70s, first half of the 80s, then there are some artists who are at the core of the collection that had a stronger claim, most unique in the panorama world in the last 10, 15 years, and then we have emerging artists, who began to hear the last 5, 6 years.

That idea of the criterion of art as the pope who builds and destroys a reputation with a text, I think no longer exists. Today most of the texts which are published on the plastic arts are not critical texts, texts are news, reports, interviews, news stories and appreciation of works depends on a discourse that is more journalistic than properly critical in the artistic sense.

The whole situation of collecting along the XX century is miserable. Portugal reached the end of the XX century without having anything at all, it is a scandal, is the demonstration of absolute cultural underdevelopment of Portugal throughout the XX century.

The Berardo Collection is a collection that comes to modify significantly the reference of collecting and of the art in Portugal and the lending contract (loan to the State) for 10 years is balanced. The Berardo Collection was created by historical chronological criteria encompassing the likeness of a compendium or a history of art blocks, values ​​didactic and pedagogical perspective.

I’m currently cultural adviser of José Sócrates without power of decision or budget.

The art market today essentially passes through London and New York although Germany and France still have some weight, but there are art centers emerging everywhere.

There is often international exhibitions in which there are so many Portuguese artists such as Spanish, in the younger generations of artists.vv

Cristina Guerra

February 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

Cristina Guerra works with contemporary art since 1983-84. Cristina Guerra Gallery opened in 2001, alone. Before she worked with Filomena Soares, 97-99. And before that worked at the Cultural Center which led to the Centro Cultural de Cascais. At this time she had artists going outside to make museums. When they started working with her the artworks coasted 500€ and now cost 20,000€. But it takes a very long time, is 10 years. The galleries have the actual quote of the artist, the real price of an artist is in the galleries. For her the triangular system of the gallery, the critic / curator and collector remains valid and essential. A curator theorizes what the artist does and so there is a better understanding of the work by the collector.

Until 97 people just wanted canvas and started buying papers. Nowadays the paper can be as expensive as a canvas, the main interest is the artwork itself.

The Americans, British and a bit the French art collectors if they appreciate an artwork they buy. The Swiss and Germans want to know what the artist did, studying the artwork and only then they buy.

From 2004 everyone is already on the internet and it’s easier to know what artists are doing.

Cristina Guerra states that nowadays we have a problem, there isn’t a museum with a permanent exhibition of Portuguese artists, there are only temporary exhibitions and we see very little Portuguese artists. There are many foreign collectors who ask her where they can see Portuguese art and she have to take them to other galleries. At the Reina Sofia Museum there is a floor where is seen only Spanish art. Nowadays we don’t see half career artists or we see the older or the very young. What happened was that the directors of the museums prefer foreign things than the Portuguese, she thinks it should be the middle term, which is to perceive, to contextualize. The Serralves Museum is at four years to buy. She usually says that “we are now a cultural center.” There are many people who come to see but not buy. Passos Coelho went to Serralves the first time in his life a short time ago. This is amazing, isn’t it? The current Secretary of State is a person who understands, at least he knows everything. But the guy who is directing the Institute of Arts doesn’t know anything at all. Mário Soares, António Guterres and Durão Barroso were educated people, interested who visited the galleries.

Cristina Guerra states that, in 2007, the strategy of the gallery with a view to greater international visibility of our artists in the international market began to put some artists she worked with and had exhibited to international collections in auctions at Christie’s and Philips: “what happened is that I had to put an artwork at auction and then I would have to buy through other people who bought them.” Because we don’t have art market many art collectors see the catalogs of auction houses, especially international. There are many people, even in Portugal, studying art, even some galleries, trough the auction houses to see the evolution of the rising price of an artist.

Cristina Guerra believes that there is an evolution of private art collecting in Portugal towards greater social and cultural responsibility. The interest of this new collecting is that the Portuguese art becomes more internationalize and therefore they offer works of Portuguese artists to some foreign institutions: “right now there are collectors who buy now artworks, to be in the Tate. In which they don’t benefit as patrons. It is something that is common practice in almost all countries, including Brazil, in Portugal that practice doesn’t exist. “

Cites several reference collections, such as the recent collection of Miguel Rios Foundation, Elypse collection is closed, has few Portuguese artists, is very mainstream, there is another collection, but with few Portuguese, he is Brazilian, but the idea is more South America and Middle East which is the art collection of Luis Augusto Teixeira de Freitas, the Cachola collection is the only exclusively of Portuguese artists, and he isn’t a private banker or businessman, is an employee, can make a collection that every agent respects, and some institutional collections, BES Art collection, EDP, and others who have made collections but have stopped buying a long time, cases of PT and Culturgest . “I can’t understand the lack of interest from institutional, or governmental or State funding for this area of ​​contemporary art. Because economically are tradable. Why there is no more support in acquisitions, we must do something about the culture, as cultural tourism exists and is increasingly implemented”.

What happens is that usually comes a crisis and all the collectors disappear and others appear, we are always in a new beginning.

Cristina Guerra states that have 70 square meters in Basel, and the whole operation costs 90,000€, which is nonsense. Most artists that exposes are Portuguese, costs about 10,000 €. Less discount of less than half, which is what she earns, typically has a loss. Unless you sell a foreign artist, are pieces of 80,000 € 90,000 € 100,000 € 200,000 €. Looking at the financial and economic side I ought to have given up long ago. The Portuguese Galleries normally goes to the art fairs of: ARCO, Art Basel, Art Basel Miami, Art Forum Berlin, FIAC, Vienna Art Fair, Art Rio and Shanghai. I went into Miami in 2002 and 2003. The collectors go all to the same art fairs. Our rulers if they go to ARCO is already very good, but some don’t go. When I was in APGA with Pedro Cera, the State rested for 2 international fairs with a minimum stand. In the first year, four years ago, there was 200,000€, has now been reduced to 100,000€. Sometimes the State support an artist, occasionally, like Joana Vasconcelos at this moment, I think this exhibition completely idiotic.


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