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Through the Keyhole: Ângelo Silva and Paulo Damião

Through the Keyhole is a formless and informal project, intending to show how different works, documents and objects are displayed in one’s home. It is not so much an exhibition as an unconcerned show, composed by idiosyncrasies and affections that escape us, with reflections not limited to the language of art: the works find their place in any corner of the house and private memory, among books, paraphernalia, souvenirs, unusual and dissonant for some, regular and harmonious for others.

Through the Keyhole is the suspension of objective coherence; a compliment to subjective order. Looking with curiosity through a door’s keyhole, which, with its publication, materializes itself in a simple generous act, which must be respected and intuited in this way. It is an atlas of affectivity, more than a Mnemosyne atlas – after all, times are intertwined: the personal with the historical, the collective memory with that of its actors and authors.

Along the way, the right place for art, far from the institution or the compulsive and curated collection – the place of art close to the ghosts of emotions and the intimate relational continuum, of time and space composed of complicities, social gatherings, boredom, sorrows, frustrations and joys. The place of art close to each one.

Throughout this project, Umbigo will invite artists and collectors to show part of their houses and works with which they vigilantly share their daily lives. Each image is the face of a thought and a look, but also of a living and a being – until the pandemic allows it, until the street and the public social space return.

Through the Keyhole does not want to be much, it does not intend to be a landmark, just a crack in the door through which we peep, and a brief rearrangement of notes and objects, a fleeting order in the always chaotic and profuse private space.

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“We like to think about the collection’s evolution as if we were collecting our own image, our mirror. It’s the will to counteract the fugacity of our life through the perenniality of the collection, as J. Baudrillard said (1968).

The artworks we are acquiring are the consequence of a process of research and discovery, whose aim is to uphold some aesthetic and logical purpose throughout the years since the beginning of this activity.

The art collection began in 2010, when I met the artist Paulo Damião. He already had a small group of works and, from it, we decided to acquire more. At the time, the acquisitions were emerging still without the goal of having a collection. Over the years, the collecting thought increased and reached a more coherent sense.

The criteria for adding works of art to the collection are mostly emotional. In other words, the works need to convey emotions and communicate with us. It is also important to create dialogues within the collection. We are not looking for artworks to fill gaps or to have a mere sticker album. Our collection is quite personal and unique. It reflects our experiences, our biography.

We prefer to buy directly from artists or galleries when the artists have gallery representation. All acquisitions of our contemporary art collection have been made on the primary market. This is especially important to help the Portuguese art system. We like to maintain a relationship of trust with the artists and gallerists in the collection. We try to get to know the artist and the thinking behind the work. When there is no collector-artist or collector-gallerist relationship, the interest in these circuits diminishes and we look for others. We are not obliged to frequent certain niches when there is no such openness on the part of the gallery or artist.

The collection has around one hundred works, most of them on paper and paintings. Apart from these, we have some photographs, ceramic pieces, and a sculpture by Rui Chafes.

We like to spread and share our acquisition options publicly (for example, on social media). This disclosure makes other people see and have an interest in contemporary art. Building a collection may have an educational role, something capable of transmitting knowledge. In our opinion, contemporary art should not only be appreciated by a small elite.

In short, we believe that the dissemination of the works to other publics is a social responsibility of the collectors.”

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Ângelo Silva is a specialist in Nuclear Medicine at the Champalimaud Clinical Centre. He attends the post-graduate course in Art Market and Collecting at the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, NOVA University Lisbon.

Paulo Damião is an artist, graduated in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Lisbon.

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