Lisbon Art Weekend

Among several openings, visits, cocktails and conversations, another edition of Lisbon Art Weekend happened, an annual event that allows us a tour around some of the most renowned galleries in the Portuguese capital. In this fourth edition, with 36 venues (5 more than last year), there was the opportunity to see the various proposals that contemporary art has to offer in Lisbon.

The event is not presented as an art fair, in a single enclosed area, but rather as an opportunity to visit the city’s multiple galleries. We know that some unexpected event may be just around the corner. Following the event’s blue map, we saw several recurrent faces along the different venues: they too followed their own path, which may have been the same or different from the others. Despite the number of exhibitions, there didn’t seem to be a great anxiety concentrated on the major events, perhaps because of the distance of certain galleries in relation to others – a positive sign of a heterogeneous city, where the artistic circuits also lie on the peripheries. This realisation that seeing everything is impossible makes us follow our own rhythm, walking and getting to know them. That was also my case. In the imperfection of this text, and in not being able to look at the whole, is the quiet intentionality that makes the event stand out from the rest.

It all started on Thursday, with the first openings. Zaratan – Arte Contemporânea opened its new Hammer Time, an “exhibition-auction” with various media, forms, and points of view, in a bath of contemporary and digitalized post-irony. Uma Lulik, Galeria Foco and Monitor Lisbon also opened new shows. Uma Lulik with Isabel Cordovil’s A Matéria É Soberana, Galeria Foco with Rudolfo Quintas’ Reading Against the Grain and Monitor Lisbon with Nathaniel Mellors’ Office For Neanderthal Tourism & Crucifixion.

Friday was more eventful. Walking around São Bento and Alvalade, we spotted Isabel Pyrrait’s minimal embroidery in a ponto luz bordado at Galeria Diferença, unconventional Japanese ceramics in Landscapes at Sokyo Lisbon, and Daniel Moreira and Rita Castro Neves’ prehistoric set designs in Faca na Pedra at Appleton Box and also the opening of Three Colours: Green by Evy Jokhova. While participating in two guided tours in the afternoon of that day, I noticed a certain lack of public. On one hand, it was a sign of a working day, on the other, proof that it is still possible to improve the offer to visitors.

Saturday was quite different. Practically the programme’s main day, the events didn’t stop. In the city’s eastern side, the galleries were filled with curious onlookers. At Underdogs, well-packed by three in the afternoon, the somewhat predictable plastic explosion of Pichi Avo’s exhibition captured people’s attention at Underdogs Capsule in Onun Trigueiros’ Renascimento Street, the artist’s first show at the gallery. Only blue and white works were exhibited, revealing his imagination, here always in dialogue with tile even on sheets of paper, with new characters and narratives.

Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow, Alexandre Estrela’s show at Galeria Bruno Múrias, was also impactful. A cryptic map of sound and speeds had a guided tour by the artist, besides the delicious, ruined puzzles by Carlos Garaicoa in Contrapeso at Galeria Filomena Soares. The best came at the end, with Wished On The Moon For More Than I Ever Knew, an installation by Tamara McArthur at Kunsthalle Lissabon. She constructed a dreamlike and unusual setting, clearly inspired by Harold Sohlberg’s Winter Night at the Mountains. A melancholic theremin led us through the installation’s picturesque curves, towards a silvery lake, with a childlike and contemplative side, but also motionless and mournful. A visit to a happy place, where we will not be able to return, because no one lives there anymore.

Sunday, with two guided tours, was mainly dedicated to conversations with people from the artistic world, whose works, and venues we could visit during these days; as well as international speakers who approached important issues of current contemporary art. These are usual initiatives in these aggregating events, giving contemporary art an opportunity for affirmation and self-reflection.

Across the river Tejo, in the industrial park of Barreiro at PADA Studios opened the Territory exhibition, with 32 projects by artists and curators from 17 countries.

When I got home, with the excess of visual information, I thought about the democratizing need of these free-entry events, which are invitations to get to know artistic ecosystems. These more impulsive and concentrated visits, even if they don’t allow the ideal contemplation, seem to make us see more clearly the differences of approach and curatorship of each venue, in the diversity of artistic proposals that Lisbon has. This Lisbon Art Weekend has raised the urge to visit these spaces again, understanding them more and better.

Lisbon Art Weekend took place between November 10 and 13 in Lisbon.

Miguel Pinto (Lisbon, 2000) is graduated in Art History by NOVA/FCSH and made his internship at the National Museum of Azulejo. He has participated in the research project VEST - Vestir a corte: traje, género e identidade(s) at the Humanities Centre of the same institution. He has created and is running the project Parte da Arte, which tries to investigate the artistic scene in Portugal through video essays.

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