Porquê at MNAC

MNAC exhibits Why – Contemporary art in dialogue with the thinking of José Saramago, on the occasion of the centenary birth of the writer, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998.

The exhibition is located in a division of the museum, where a long corridor opens up access to the small rooms, and where we can see works created by a group of artists, assembled according to themes organized by curator Ana Matos.

The way in which the works are ordered, alludes to the literary thoughts of José Saramago. It is as if it flocked to corners of the mind where there is room for ecphrasic exercises, and where works of art find shelter, and consolation in words.

Saramago, in his work “História do Cerco de Lisboa”, talks about painting. And he tells us that “painting is nothing more than literature made with brushes”, and that, even before humanity knew how to write, people were already painting and drawing.

The exhibition Porquê, a proposal for a dialogue between contemporary art and the thinking of José Saramago, opens the way for a long attention, for questioning, for reflection.

The exhibition curator reinforces, in her room text, the importance, in this exhibition, of the writer’s words, especially when he stated: “All literature is a palimpsest”.

We know that, as in literature, the work of art is often made from the rescue of ideas from ancient times, other times from the art of its own time. The works are, thus, configuring themselves, and will interact in reflections of different times, sometimes through well-documented identifications, other times translating into scattered echoes or patterns.

In this lengthy process of transfiguration, of metamorphosis, art will repeat some principles, on other times it will establish ruptures with them, however, without losing sight of its connection, and dependence, with history.

It is as if it were a matter of rewriting, of “scraping to write again”, of amending to achieve something better, or, perhaps, more committed with the civic and ethical duties of society. Not uncommonly, in the writer’s works, one find small thoughts, or comments, about social differences, or reservations about the existing differences between human beings.The nuclei addressed in this exhibition reflect the writer’s concerns, this commitment to the other, and to society. The works are organized according to themes, such as Human Rights, Identity and Otherness, Sustainability, Memory and Word.

On the white walls, adorning the entrance to each of the rooms, we find phrases by Saramago, and it is in this confluence that the cohesive body of the exhibition is formed. An exhibition, that orbits around the human discourse of the writer, and his extensive work. One of the phrases that I would highlight is the one that is included in the area of ​​sustainability, and which I quote: “I understand happiness as a harmonious relationship, as a close relationship between the person and society, with those who are close to him and with the environment”.

This exhibition is, therefore, a privileged moment to observe works by the artists featured in the Museum’s collection and, at the same time, an opportunity to witness a configuration, and complementarity, established between works and words.

The exhibition Porquê includes the following artists: Alberto Carneiro, Álvaro Lapa, Ana Vieira, André Cepeda, António Pedro, António Sena, Bartolomeu Cid dos Santos, Carlos Nogueira, Fernando Brito, Fernando Calhau, Fernando Lemos, Filipa César, Helena Almeida , João Tabarra, João Vieira, Jorge Molder, José de Brito, Júlia Ventura, Julião Sarmento, Júlio Pomar, Júlio Resende, Lourdes Castro, Luísa Cunha, Nikias Shapinakis, Paulo Nozolino, Pedro Gomes, Querubim Lapa, Sallete Tavares, Vasco Araújo.

Until January 8 at MNAC.


Carla Carbone was born in Lisbon, 1971. She studied Drawing in and Design of Equipment at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon. Completed his Masters in Visual Arts Teaching. She writes about Design since 1999, first in the newspaper O Independente, then in editions like Anuário de Design, arq.a magazine, DIF, Parq. She also participates in editions such as FRAME, Diário Digital, Wrongwrong, and in the collection of Portuguese designers, edited by the newspaper Público. She collaborated with illustrations for Fanzine Flanzine and Gerador magazine. (photo: Eurico Lino Vale)

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