Mares sem Tempo, an exhibition of the “Gulbenkian Itinerante” programme, at the Palácio da Galeria/Museu Municipal de Tavira

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation arrives in the south of the country, at the Palácio da Galeria/Museu Municipal de Tavira, in an exhibition dedicated to the sea – something extremely important for the region. It runs until 23 February 2020, in a special year for Tavira: the year of the 500th anniversary of its elevation to the category of city.

Divided into three parts – Entre a Terra e o Mar (e o Céu), Mediterrâneo e A Descoberta do Mundo/Fim de Viagem –, the exhibition establishes a dialogue between different periods and artistic styles. It underlines the importance that the sea has had and continues to have in our culture and in creating dialogues with what is beyond it.

The exhibition initially presents an important work by Paula Rego, O Tempo – Passado e Presente. In it are portrayed several generations, experiences and maritime motifs, lived differently by all these elements.

The first nucleus of the exhibition, Entre a Terra e o Mar (e o Céu), tells us about the moment of creation. Here, the connection to the divine is something central.

Ângelo de Sousa is one of several artists in this part of the exhibition. He presents a stripped-down, monochromatic painting, where we can see a line that delimits a border, a first division.

In other pieces, we see the sea and the surrounding landscape. For example, in the works of Luís Noronha da Costa, Adriano de Sousa Lopes or Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso.

In the second nucleus, Mediterrâneo, we see a little more of the human figure and the paths explored. Coastal cities, ports or art celebrations, in what constitutes the “cradle of western civilization”.

We can see works by Francis Smith, next to the 19th-century painter Félix Ziem – who portrayed the St. Mark’s Square in Venice, or the port of Marseille – or the work Veneza, by Nadir Afonso.

Nikias Skapinakis is also present, with Égina e a Águia Arrebatadora. He portrays a mythological episode, in the light of contemporary times; or José de Almada Negreiros, in a tribute to the painter Luca Signorelli.

Finally, the nucleus A descoberta do mundo/fim de viagem shows the distant places discovered by the Portuguese and the news that they went to the western world. It is the “end of the journey”, and perhaps the suggestion of a new beginning.

We see a sculpture by João Cutileiro in the centre of one of the exhibition rooms; paintings by Álvaro Lapa, which evoke maritime voyages; a painting by Eduardo Batarda about the battle of Marracuene; or an African face, by Amadeo de Sousa Cardoso.

In the last room of the exhibition, we see in the centre an installation by Ana Vidigal, Penélope, where the artist shows a quilt made of letters sent by her parents during the colonial war. Like Penelope, the artist’s mother waited for her husband, absent in the war, uncertain about his return.

Throughout the room, we see paintings that mostly portray New York City, Brazil, Japan or the Algarve.

In the end, there is a piece a little different from the others: two images of the sea side by side, one fixed and the other moving, in a video by Fernando Calhau. The sea is like this: a static idea and something dynamic, navigable, where one can discover new places.

To cross cultures through time, it is also necessary to cross space, carrying the best that the capital has to offer, which represents what unites us, directly from the collections of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum – the Founder’s Collection and the Modern Collection. This allows us to give visibility to artists and episodes of our history that deserve to be (re)called, in less central regions.

Mares sem Tempo. Until February 23, 2020, at the Palácio da Galeria/Museu Municipal de Tavira.

Joana Carmo graduated in Languages, Literatures and Cultures, having subsequently attended a postgraduate course in Art Markets and Collecting. Currently, she is a senior technician at Museu Zer0 (a digital art museum that is being installed in the interior of the municipality of Tavira) where she coordinates the Educational Service and Publics.

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