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Lusofolia: A Beleza Insensata

Lusofolia: A Beleza Insensata, curated by António Saint Silvestre, at the Centro de Arte Oliva until March 15, brings together works by renowned and more recent Portuguese, Brazilian and Angolan authors in the context of Art Brut/Outsider.

The exhibition was created by collectors Richard Treger and António Saint Silvestre with the aim of disseminating and increasing the representativeness of Lusophone artists. This allows for the diversification and further expansion of the geographical representation of their international collection of Art Brut/Outsider, gathered over four decades, in deposit in São João da Madeira since 2014.

The concept of Art Brut was introduced by the French artist Jean Dubuffet in 1945 to describe a free artistic practice, away from established art systems and the dominant culture. The vanguards of modern art at the beginning of the 20th century wanted to achieve an autonomous and authentic creative process. Surrealist André Breton stood out for his interest in these productions, having collaborated with Dubuffet in the creation of the Compagnie de l’Art Brut.

Dubuffet gathered a large collection of works made by psychiatric patients, inmates, French spiritist circles and other marginalized individuals, thus giving birth to the “Collection de L’Art Brut” in Lausanne (Switzerland) – an institution that is still active.

In 1972, the term Outsider Art was introduced by the British theoretician and writer Roger Cardinal, to create an equivalent to Art Brut in the English language. The concept does not fit into an artistic movement, as its practices are identified by psychological, sociological and biographical contexts. Their variations cannot be identified because they share a similar aesthetic, as there are variations in the materials, styles and contents. The concept’s adaptability has allowed it to be used more comprehensively to designate works among Naïve, Folk, Visionary, Singular or Contemporary Art.

These practices have now become part of the exhibition, museum and art market contexts. In 2013, the Venice Biennale presented works of Art Brut/Outsider. Its malleable designation encompasses practices of artists belonging to various social, cultural and geographical groups. The individual expression and symbolic worlds of each author feed the reflection on the first act of creation, but also a plural discourse of multiple voices.

The exhibition path of Lusofolia allows for a better understanding of the universe of Art Brut/Outsider and clarifies the elasticity of its concept. If we start from the reflection about the first gesture of creation and the communicative need of each individual, we conclude that drawing is one of the most immediate expressive vehicles. Marilena Pelosi (Brazil, 1957), in her biographical and symbolic drawings, shows her memories lived in a voodoo cult. Jaime Fernandes (Portugal, 1900-1969), on the other hand, mixes man and animal and underlines the need to obsessively, repetitively and directly fill a sheet of paper. Throughout the exhibition, this expressiveness is recurrent in drawings that are filled in front and back, with circular movements or more closed shapes, in the works of Artur Moreira (Portugal, 1967), Raimundo Camilo (Brazil, 1935-2015), or ZMB (Rui Lourenço) (Portugal, 1973). There are several materials and styles when we compare the sculpted wooden dolls and the objects recovered by Ti Guilhermina (Portugal, 1909-2004) with the dreamlike ceramic sculpture Dishes Stories by Mónica Machado (Portugal, 1966), or even the tiles by Ana Carrondo (Portugal, 1967).

Lusofolia: A Beleza Insensata until March 15, 2020 at the Centro de Arte Oliva, with an unprecedented perspective on Lusophone Art Brut/Outsider.

Annie Martins (Porto, 1990) co-founder of the curatorial collective Hera, is a master's student in Art Studies - Museological and Curatorial Studies at FBAUP. She was also a researcher at the CHIC Project, supporting the integration of artist films in the Portuguese National Cinema Plan and in the Online Catalog of Films and Videos of Portuguese Artists. Graduated in Cinema by ESTC-IPL (2007-2010) and in Heritage Management by ESE-IPP (2013-2017) collaborates as Art Director in fictions and television programs, and recently started writing for Umbigo Magazine.

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