22 Jan. 2010 // 19 Feb. 2010

Portuguese Drawing in Egypt


Palácio Amir Taz - Cairo

Armando Alves
Francisco Laranjo
Júlio Resende
Manuel Casal Aguiar
Marta Resende
Victor Costa
Zulmiro de Carvalho

Lugar do Desenho has the privilege, in partnership with the Camões Institute, of presenting a significant exhibition of Portuguese drawings in Cairo, at the Amir Taz Palace, by artists, who on different occasions have met in order to reflect on drawing as a discipline in their creative strategy and also on the Portuguese identity.
What these artists share is their training at the School of Fine Arts in Porto, at different moments in time, yet their obstinate insistence in looking at the world and letting their art be permeated by its disquieting nature has led to a solid body of work which we hope will come into its own with this excellent opportunity to communicate and interact with their target audience.
There could be no better place to assert the authenticity and purpose of these artists.

Lugar do Desenho

The Portuguese Ambassador has the honor to welcome and support, together with Instituto Camões, the Portuguese Drawing in Egypt exhibition and thanks Fundação Júlio Resende and the group of artists who represent it in this initiative to promote Portuguese art and exchange with Egyptian artists.

Portuguese Embassy in Cairo

It is a bold step to present, for the first time in Cairo, seven Portuguese artists from different generations, all with long and distinct career paths, through a limited number of works that are intended to be representative of each of them. To take a tree for a forest is not only risky but unwise. These words of introduction are intended, therefore, as far as possible and despite their brevity, to compensate for this limitation.

It is not uncommon in these exhibitions to look for a link between the artists and/or works that constitute them. With respect to these artists, the link is not one, but several: they were born in Porto or have settled there; they found themselves in the same School of Fine Arts (Porto), with teacher-student relationships and then as colleagues, which led them to share references, influences, interests and affections; they set out from Porto on common trips for study and work; they were part of the changes in the art world and, sometimes, were represented together in the same collective exhibitions; they contributed to the creation of Lugar do Desenho – Júlio Resende Foundation which studies, displays and disseminates a collection of drawings by Júlio Resende and addresses drawing more as an expression than as a discipline, in broad, multifaceted approaches, and, accordingly, have held numerous initiatives that not only disclose and honour the artistic career of Júlio Resende, but promote the work of many Lugar do Desenho associates and Portuguese artists, particularly outside of Portugal. A good number of these activities have taken place in the world of Lusophone culture and have served as a meeting place for these artists, but mainly as a meeting place for artists and creators from other latitudes, a space for understanding between peoples, an opportunity for deepening knowledge about other cultures, for spreading a notion of art that is rooted in a humanistic vision. These are, then, some of the ties that unite the artists represented here.

But this link is not seen so easily in the artistic programme of the exhibition, nor was this its aim, since the works shown are the particular vision that each artist has developed in the context of specific concerns and his own research. The following words are not enough to reveal what each artist is proposing in terms of artistic intervention, but could possibly open some avenues of approach to their work.

Júlio Resende, one of the greatest figures in Portuguese art of the 20th century, was born in 1917 and trained in the 1940s. He is the author of a vast oeuvre that has spanned several decades and brought with it the influences and signs of successive artistic movements. He likes to place himself within an expressionist sensitivity, alert to places and people, their movements, their affairs and their illusions. When he shows himself as an expressionist he does so with a commitment to authenticity and a conviction that projects on his work that attention to Man.

Armando Alves (1935) has, since the end of the 1950s, developed a multifaceted career as painter, creator of objects and graphic designer, having pioneered a revival of this area which he consolidated and in which many wanted to see the stamp of rigour that is the hallmark of his paintings and designs. Nevertheless, his painting has evolved to signs of great expressiveness and material richness that the transfigured visions of the landscape reveal.

Zulmiro de Carvalho, born in 1940, sculptor, creator of numerous works of public art installed in Portugal and abroad, approaches drawing as he does sculpture, which reveals some of his most solid values and the establishment of a basic, sober vocabulary, but endowed with a subtlety that allows him to introduce themes and ideas and go beyond what could be seen as mere formality.

Casal Aguiar (1941), has had a very discreet career, marked by travel and records of travel, and has consolidated, from the end of the 1970s, a figuration that could be categorised under the so-called return to figuration which is to be found in Western art since then. This is a figuration of simplified and admittedly essential outlines, resulting as much from the record of the real as from the memory that remains of it.

Victor Costa (1944) is the creator of a vast body of pictorial work where the signs of atmospheric sensitivity are linked to a strong plastic and structural presence. He draws his inspiration from aspects of reality that allow him to explore precisely this plasticity, be they architecture, elements of nature or artifacts of the industrial world, as in recent projects.

Marta Resende (1946), based since 1978 in Stuttgart, Germany and Porto, Portugal, has explored painting, drawing and, more recently, digital photography in sensitive and delicate records that seek a weightless, almost immaterial, substance of great poetic density.

Francisco Laranjo (1955), the last of the artists featured, is a lecturer in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Porto. His drawings and paintings range from the emphatic use of colour to the presence of black, present in many projects, often associated with the use of gold leaf. His work is of an abstract nature, resolved in the context of a gestural freedom associated with a great lyrical sense.

From the aesthetic point of view, there seems to be in all these artists a remarkable capacity to depart from what is essential to get to something deeper, to combine the elementary to the monumental. While it is true that this exhibition provides only a sketch, not a portrait, of each of these artists, the fact remains that it allows one a look at Portuguese art, at the diversity of proposals that, once again, Lugar do Desenho accompanies and promotes.

Laura Castro
Armando Alves | Untitled | 2009 | Drawing | Charcoal pencil | 50,0 x 70,0 cm
Armando Alves | Untitled | 2009 | Drawing | Charcoal pencil | 50,0 x 70,0 cm
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