PORTUGUESE ART. REASONS AND EMOTIONS
Serpa Pinto Wing
The current exhibition of the collection covers a sizeable part of its temporal arc, from the mid-19th century to the 1980s, occupying the entirety of the galleries in the Museum wing located in Rua Serpa Pinto. The exhibition begins with portraits, a seldom addressed 19th century theme, in generational dialogues between artist collectives, and featuring unknown works by Miguel Lupi, Luciano Freire, Veloso Salgado, Duarte Faria e Maia and Constantino Fernandes.
Affinities and continuities emerge between romantic and naturalistic landscapes, although they differ in their exaltation of emotion and handling of natural light, while the exhibition also presents late 19th century nostalgic symbolism in the form of significant works and little acknowledged artists such as António Patrício and José de Brito, featuring a set of recently incorporated paintings from the Veloso Salgado Bequest which have never been exhibited.
The sense of modernity during the early decades of the 20th century, expressed by the links between Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and the international vanguards, particularly his abstractionist works, are linked to mid-20th century protest movements and the new parameters of figuration established by Paula Rego in the Museum’s main galleries. Rarely exhibited works by Emmerico Nunes, António Soares, Abel Manta, Bernardo Marques, Mily Possoz, Jorge Barradas, Hein Semke, Jorge Oliveira, and the magnificent collages by Jorge Vieira, are also displayed.
This journey through one hundred and fifty years of Portuguese art allows seldom exhibited artists and works to be revealed, contextualising reasons among emotions and artistic sensibilities. The curatorial proposal aims to reflect on social and political entanglements, and perceptions of the modern way of being since the 19th century, by highlighting continuity and change, and tastes and concepts throughout this chronological period, in the most comprehensive, intimate and original contemporary art collection, justifying the name of this Museum founded in 1911.
The affirmation of Post-Modernism in Portuguese art succeeded an experienced neo avant-garde during the pre- and post-revolutionary period, in a complex and ambivalent context. The abandonment of more radical aesthetic lines, intimately linked to a Marxist economic and political utopia, gave rise to the expression of some of the basic concepts of post-modernity, including simulacrum, self-reflection, allegory, antinarrative, blurring the line between high culture and popular culture, and a rejection of metadiscourses of any kind. Divided into seven sections, Return to Painting, Allegory, Self-Reflection and Identity, Antinarrative, Dystopia of Modernist Architecture, Critiquing Landscape and Medium and Simulacrum, the exhibition brings together works from the MNAC-MC collection and deposits, which fall under the grammar of post-modernity, or which derive from it as a result of developments made by artists from more recent generations.