19 Feb. 2000 // 11 Apr. 2000

"The Drawings of Maria Keil"

Maria Keil

Sala de Exposições Temporárias | Temporary Exhibitions Room

The Surfacing of a Smile - Maria Keil is known as one of the most notable figures in the resurgence of the artistic tile in Portugal.
In the history of the tile from the influence of Christian Arabs to the 16th Century, and then its development determined by the taste and economic power that culminated in the splendour of the late 17th and 18th Centuries, the conservatism of taste would have its interpreters, some of them notable, as in the case of Jorge Colaço and Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro at the start of the 20th Century. It was the responsibility of plastic artists to confront the challenge of a convenient medium for their creative purposes with a view to decoration. Almada Negreiros, Botelho and Maria Keil, in tune with architecture, conceived tile designs for large spaces by exploring the opportunities for a pattern and its configuration on a grid specifically for tiles.
The versatility of such a discovery was surprising. Maria Keil conceived the panel "THE SEA" (1956-58) in Avenida Infante Santo in Lisbon, which was, perhaps, her masterpiece and, without doubt, the most notable example of Portuguese artistic decor. She was the designer of the tiles that grace many stations on the Lisbon Metro, each of which was the result of long research into organic geometric forms, combined in a persuasive discourse.
Maria Keil never betrayed the essence of the quadrangular structure, nor the nature of the tile material, a compromise that never hampered her from giving free rein to her creative imagination.

Maria Keil, in her figure of eternal adolescence, retains a look of great purity, yet still extremely judicious, on the world.
A dichotomous gaze, evident indeed in this exhibition that shows her inveterate humanism.
Her drawings seem to be a murmur of tenderness or disapproval in a world of infancy and acridity.
It is understood that lyricism is here and there.
Her drawing is in itself an illustration resulting from a gesture that suggests more than she means to say, like the surface of an idea that is kept in transitory suspension, to be retained in our imagination.

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