In Tours, a Century of Liberation by Portuguese Artists

Five years after the opening of the Olivier-Debré Center for Contemporary Creation (CCCOD) in Tours (Indre-et-Loire), a red and green banner has appeared Portugal It floats back above the building designed by Lisbon architects Francis and Manuel Ayres Mateos. Organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the choral exhibition “All I Want” – a phrase borrowed from author Lou Andreas Salome – brings together 150 works by Portuguese artists from 1900 to 2020.

The course opens with a small Selfie Painted in 1990 by Aurélia de Sousa. His cold, defiant gaze seemed to epitomize the will expressed by the Lusitanian artists of the time to put an end to the oppression of their desires and to shake up the patriarchal society. For decades this generation of pioneers, led in particular by María Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992), organized itself to occupy a place in the social space.

Displayed in the black gallery on the ground floor of CCCOD, represent their paintings and sculptures from the beginning of the 20th century “The symbolic starting point of a new attitude for these artists, which is no longer in restraint, erasure, or contemplation, but in affirmation.”notes Helena de Freitas, curator with Bruno Marchand of this remarkable exhibition, which has already been presented at Bozar in Brussels and at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

Legacy power

Along the way, we measure the strength of this heritage, renewed by post-war art movements, Trente Glorieuses and today. In just a few decades, these female artists have moved from the shadows to the light, imposing their voices. The symbol of this liberation movement, Paula Rego, who died on June 8 at the age of 87, in London, where she had fled from the military dictatorship, and had taken refuge as a teenager, daring to represent her, with a triptych. vanitas (2006), a tutelary portrait of a churchman disguised as a woman as if power had shifted on her part.

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The exhibition ends with works by contemporary artists, all with a singular, often sharp eye, on the social and political themes that have animated their country’s history since the agonizing period of Salazar’s dictatorship: labor unions struggling to develop sexuality; To denounce human predation of nature and standardize lifestyles.

The work of photographer Patricia Almeida (1970-2017), who, like Briton Martin Parr, documents the devastating explosion of coastal tourism in the Algarve in her series portobelloor recent installation Cut the tree into cubes and arrange it in a line 2020 By Gabriela Albergaria, 57, who attacks the over-exploitation of natural resources – particularly forests – speaks volumes about the intense view that the current generation of Lusitanian artists impose on the world.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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