Apaixonarte – The version 2.0 of being portuguese
Apaixonarte is a project that was born in the heart of Cláudia Cordeiro. Having in number 57 of Rua Poiais de São Bento her headquarters, a shop that also happens to be a gallery, her intent is to promote design and art made in Portugal, without having to rely on the same old clichés: laceworks, the rooster of Barcelos or the ever so typical Lusitanian longingness.
Cláudia declares herself as a patriot and stands for what is national against the “immense lack of self-esteem” of the Portuguese people. She affirms that travelling has always been a passion and, whenever she went abroad, it was noticeable the way the foreigners put their stakes on the work of local artists in order to promote their own cities. If we wanted to bring a souvenir from our trip, there were options beyond the typical products of each nation, while, at the same time, Portugal was still gearing its efforts towards a market deeply connected to handicraft endeavours.
The idea to create a space that filled this gap kept inhabiting the thoughts of Cláudia Cordeiro for quite some time and the economic crisis actually turned them into reality. Back then, she was working in Architecture, but the economic recession cut her number of projects. She thought it was the right time to turn her life around and, so, finally, Apaixonarte was born.
With an enthusiast discourse and a broad smile, it is absolutely normal the fondness that Cláudia has for this floor-level space, whose shop window welcomes the outside light and shows us the street. Lodged in a small “island” between São Bento and the beginning of Calçada do Combro, this street was out of the range of the usual sky-high rents of both areas. It was part of a historic neighbourhood, but it had yet to be discovered. “I always thought this area would be victorious in the long run. Nowadays, a new space is launched almost on a weekly basis. When I came here, it happened exactly the opposite, almost every week someone closed their doors”, she says.
She started by selling objects only, which were chosen according to the same criteria she uses up to this day: they have to be made in Portugal and by an artist who resides in the country, even if they are from abroad. Contemporary products are appreciated, which can somehow reinvent the notion of being Portuguese. Like the German Bulldogs in fluorescent colours, from Ugly Dogs, which are an updated version of the crockery dog, or the Paleta, a brand that uses the patterns of hydraulic tiles alongside the stencil as a way to cover walls and furniture according to what one enjoys the most.
However, this factor is not decisive, nor mandatory for that matter. Apaixonarte has pieces that have nothing to do with the traditional Portuguese realm, like for instance the Rewashlamp, a brand that produces lamps from washing machine drums that are about to get scrapped.
About two years ago, this space was adapted in order to welcome exhibitions. The first was from the street artist Tamara Alves. In the meantime, it already hosted collages from Margarida Girão, drawings by Pedro Zamith, the sculpture of Rita Cascais and the illustration of Sara Feio, among others. These pieces are available for sale while they are exhibited and some remain in the store afterwards. Other works also join the ones of the artists who are chosen to hold exhibitions. That is the case of the collages made by the British artist Nina Fraser (who, meeting the criteria, has been living in Lisbon for three years) and the DressedFur illustrations of Katrina Krumina (born in Latvia and living in Oporto).
In relation to painting, illustration and collages, the idea is to keep a balance between the sale of originals and prints. Part of Apaixonarte’s philosophy – idealist, Cláudia acknowledges – is to make art accessible to everyone. “Obviously, we cannot have an original being sold for 20€, but we can have a print and people will be happy with it. The most important thing is being in touch with art. They may not have access to the noblest form of it, but they have another type of access available. The good thing is to reach the largest number of people possible, and avoid being elitist”, she declares.
Until October 30th, there is a new exhibition to see at Apaixonarte: Geómetra, from the Oporto designer Ana Areias aka Ana Types Type. With a degree in Graphic Design from Faculdade de Belas Artes do Porto, the contrasts, saturated colours and compositions of the shapes, which give birth to patterns, embody her number one penchant – from the scratches she does while on the phone to the work she develops in her own name or to customers. Among other things, she actually outlined a backdrop for the shows of the musician Capicua and has several partnerships with the educational service of Casa da Música. She prefers to apply these patterns in textile, but, for the exhibition at Apaixonarte, she developed a set of pieces with mixed techniques on wood and ceramics. The white, the black, the blue and the pink are Ana’s chosen pallet.
Wood and ceramics are also the raw materials of Madre, a brand that she established alongside Raquel Rei one year ago. None of the brand’s items has a specific purpose of use – there are cups which can be used to drink tea or as a recipient for pencils and pens, for instance – but all of them are have something to do with the table, whether that is a dining room one or a worktable.