Anuário – A retrospective view of art in Porto
Anuário, by definition, is a publication that registers the most important events and activities of a given entity over a one-year period. When the concept is used as the name of an artistic and exhibition project in the Municipal Gallery of Porto, the expectation is to have it as a reflection of the city’s artistic creation. The exhibition space is acknowledged for its contribution to the approximation and relationship between contemporary national art, mainly the one conducted in the country’s northern region and the Porto citizens and the remainder audience. Thus, the expectation is that this exhibition represents the confluence of the movements, actions, processes, languages and discourses, both plastic and expressive, formal, visual and conceptual, that stood out the most in the artistic scene of Porto last year.
The first edition of Anuário is not an introductory or isolated act, quite the opposite, it establishes itself with full strength, in a collective, diversified and plural way. It provides a solid representation and retrospective of the artistic and curatorial creations and practices of 2018, consisting of the opportunity to remember and celebrate the Porto’s art. The project results from the collaboration of two noteworthy figures, whose own actions have influenced the cultural relevance of that same context in recent years, Guilherme Blanc and João Ribas. Both, as well as their partnership, raise the bar regarding the project, not only in agreement with what Blanc has amassed in the Municipal Gallery, but also due to the irreverence and the distinct character of Ribas. Therefore, this exhibition stands out not only in the context of the city’s cultural program, but also in the national artistic reality.
The developed program suggests that each exhibition is conceived by different curators, something visible at the inauguration, and the choice of the curators is characterized by the diversity and cross-cutting of different skills and areas. Therefore, programmers, creative directors and artistic creators are involved and, consequently, the gallery displays the result of this convergence between distinct and singular standpoints, perspectives and thoughts, both creative and intellectual.
The invited curators, Joana Machado, Joaquim Durães, José Maia, Miguel Flor and Rita Castro Neves work, inhabit, experience, move and cross the same artistic circuit, although in their own fields of action and production, being more or less experienced when it comes to outlining exhibitions. The discussion is focused on their analyses and documentation of the artistic productions of Porto, which took place last year, and this discussion is interconnected in what is being displayed.
They selected twenty-seven artists, materializing a dynamic show that suggests a journey from work to work, image to image, based on tools, sculptures, installations, paintings, videos and photographs in a technical, expressive and conceptual multiplicity. It cannot be said that the works fully complement each other, since the goal is communication and an interplay between shapes and ideas.
Different dialogues are established between the objects and between these and the space, whose conception is unusual and unlike what has been done in the Municipal Gallery. The main wing resembles the stage of a theater, whose environment is changed by a scenography effort. The setting gives motion and life. Its unique shade of green can be experienced through its own atmosphere or, at the same time, through its communication with the exterior of the building, the gardens of Palácio de Cristal and Porto itself. The viewer, in turn, is prompted to be an actor, to engage in the exhibition, to move and interact with what is presented, defining their own path like when they walk the city.
It is also a question of understanding the curatorship effort as something less conventional and more experimental and broader. Different exhibition models are proposed that go beyond the exhibition of the works as simple unmovable objects, allowing them to reach different potentialities, aspects that have already characterized exhibitions of João Ribas, such as Zéro de Conduite (2018), in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Serralves.
Several national artists are presented in properly delineated exhibitive areas, some particularly established and recognized in the country, like Silvestre Pestana, with the work Águas Vivas (2001), the duo João Pedro Vale + Nuno Alexandre Ferreira and his Ave Rara 2018), or Paulo Mendes and António Olaio with the joint work Binóculos Divergentes (2018). It also gives visibility to younger and emerging creators, such as Diogo Tudela (Sem Título, 2018) or Hernâni Reis Baptista (Embate, 2018). These names, and many others, together form the estate and the artistic and cultural field of the city and country, thus determining the uniqueness and importance of the exhibition.
The project, from 16 March to 19 May, marks the beginning of the 2019 edition of the Municipal Gallery programme. It also begins a new format of concomitant inaugurations, this time with the exhibition ASTRAY of the artist Carolina Mesquita, that interconnects the sculpture and the image in movement, curated by Sofia Lemos with Kunsthalle Lissabon.
As for the Anuário, although it acknowledges the impossibility of covering the extensive and growing artistic creation of Porto, it managed to present a fair reflection of it, its artists, exhibition spaces and artistic actions. Therefore, there is an expectation to see it grow, with its own temporality and topicality.