Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
Festivais Gil Vicente
Festas da Cidade e Gualterianas
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ROOM 1

African Alphabet

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José de Guimarães

José de Guimarães’ alphabet of drawings in dialogue with the tradition of proverbs of the peoples of Cabinda.

Between 1970 and 1974, José de Guimarães reinvented his drawing techniques, producing an alphabet that was influenced by the ideographic language associated to the tradition of pots in the territory of the former ancient kingdom of Ngoyo (XV-XIX), in the south of Cabinda, in northwest Angola. This language was not solely visual or decorative. It communicated different messages, sayings, meanings, ideas, carved on the lids of various household objects, such as pots and tureens, that are presented here in projected images.


José Guimarães’ African Alphabet is based on a process of “osmosis” between European and African art. It reinforces the importance of the symbol as a mediating element between art and all other dimensions of human existence, understanding its role in cultural transmission. The pot lids contain proverbs, fictions and reveal the tremendous metaphorical richness of the kingdom of Ngoyo.


This vocabulary is introduced in the room dedicated to the “origin” of José de Guimarães’ poetics, that highlights the relationship between European art and African sculpture, articulating fetishism, appropriation and poetic experimentation. It makes it possible to reconnect the museum’s collection with the active traditions of African territory. Projected in images, the reliefs of various African utensils haunt and illuminate José de Guimarães’ alphabet. Between 1970-74, José de Guimarães developed his systematic method of anthropological approach in Angola, focusing on the territory of the former Kingdom of Ngoyo, in the southern zone of the enclave of Cabinda (Angola). He was impressed by the communicative form of these peoples, expressed here through projected images from the collection of the National Museum of Ethnology (Lisbon) and the study by José Martins Vaz, Filosofia Tradicional dos Cabindas através dos seus testos de panela, provérbios, adivinhas e fábulas (The Traditional Philosophy of the Cabindas through their pots, proverbs, riddles and fables) (1970).


Objects of ritual, moral and family communication, these tools speak and tell stories. José de Guimarães found inspiration in the communicative power and effectiveness of this language to build his own artistic lexicon, which, has been a constant element throughout his career, although it has undergone several changes.

FOR ALL AGES

José de Guimarães José de Guimarães (Guimarães, 1939) has lived and worked between Lisbon and Paris since 1995. Whereas the first decade of his artistic production was essentially based on his contacts with Africa, his career spanning more than 50 years includes complete series dedicated to Chinese and Japanese cultures, the art of Rubens, the literature of Camões or the particular conception of death in Mexico. Over recent years, José de Guimarães’ oeuvre reflects a trend towards creating cosmopolitan forms and figures, especially with works in wooden boxes, which propose an exterior austerity that contrasts with the enactment of its interior space, that features bright lines, painting, collages and objects that deviate from the meaning that would normally be given to them by their traditional function.

He has held numerous exhibitions in various countries, and, in addition to previous anthological exhibitions that were held in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (1984), the Museum of Modern Art (Mexico City, 1987), the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and the Serralves Foundation, Porto (1992), over the last decade, there have been anthological or retrospective exhibitions dedicated to him in Portugal (Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon, 2001 and the Carmona e Costa Foundation, Lisbon, 2012), in Germany (Museum Würth, Künzelsau, 2001), in Tokyo (Hillside Forum, 2002), Switzerland (Art Forum Würth, Arlesheim and Chur, 2003), Brazil (FIESP Cultural Foundation, 2005 and the Museu Afro Brasil, 2006, São Paulo), Spain (Caixanova Foundation, 2003, and Museo Würth La Rioja, 2008), Luanda (Portuguese Cultural Centre, 2009), in Italy (Art Forum Würth, Rome, 2010), in Brussels (Espace Européen pour la Sculpture, 2007 and the European Parliament, 2012) and in China (Yan Huang Museum, Beijing, 1994, Today Art Museum, Beijing, 2007, Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, 2012 and Shaanxi Provincial Art Museum in Xian, 2013). In 2012, he was elected the President of the National Society of Fine Arts. At the José de Guimarães International Centre for the Arts, in Guimarães, he has participated in numerous exhibitions and reassembly of the artist’s collections, which are deposited there on loan, free of charge. Between 2016 and 2018 he participated in several exhibitions, including in particular “Esconjurations in the Millennium bcp Collection and other works by José de Guimarães”, at the Millennium Gallery, in Lisbon, “Portugal Portuguese - Contemporary Art” at the Museu Afro-Brasil in São Paulo, and “L’Internationale des Visionaires”, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin, in Montolieu, France, In 2019, in the Musée Würth Erstein France, he inaugurated the retrospective exhibition “José de Guimarães - De L’Artiste à L’Anthropologue”. In Lisbon, in the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) he inaugurated the exhibition, “A Volta ao Mundo” (Around the World), a retrospective of his graphic work, accompanied by a critical catalogue of the work on display (1963-2019). He received the Career Award from the Portuguese Society of Authors (SPA). In Shanghai, he inaugurated two sets of public art entitled “Gates” and “Cylinder Building”. In 2020, he inaugurated the exhibition “José de Guimarães, Von Künstler zum Anthropologen” in the Würth Haus Rorschach, Switzerland and “Dioramas” in the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in Lisbon. He recently made a new series of silkscreen prints “Drawings in the Sand” for the Portuguese Serigraphy Centre, Lisbon.His work is represented in the most relevant institutional collections in Portugal and all over the world, in particular in Japan and Germany. His work proposes crossovers with the art of non-Western African, Chinese and Meso-American civilizations – in an incessant search for non-verbal relationships, that is also influenced by his intense activity as a collector over several decades.

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FOR ALL AGES

José de Guimarães José de Guimarães (Guimarães, 1939) has lived and worked between Lisbon and Paris since 1995. Whereas the first decade of his artistic production was essentially based on his contacts with Africa, his career spanning more than 50 years includes complete series dedicated to Chinese and Japanese cultures, the art of Rubens, the literature of Camões or the particular conception of death in Mexico. Over recent years, José de Guimarães’ oeuvre reflects a trend towards creating cosmopolitan forms and figures, especially with works in wooden boxes, which propose an exterior austerity that contrasts with the enactment of its interior space, that features bright lines, painting, collages and objects that deviate from the meaning that would normally be given to them by their traditional function.

He has held numerous exhibitions in various countries, and, in addition to previous anthological exhibitions that were held in Brussels at the Palais des Beaux-Arts (1984), the Museum of Modern Art (Mexico City, 1987), the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, and the Serralves Foundation, Porto (1992), over the last decade, there have been anthological or retrospective exhibitions dedicated to him in Portugal (Cordoaria Nacional, Lisbon, 2001 and the Carmona e Costa Foundation, Lisbon, 2012), in Germany (Museum Würth, Künzelsau, 2001), in Tokyo (Hillside Forum, 2002), Switzerland (Art Forum Würth, Arlesheim and Chur, 2003), Brazil (FIESP Cultural Foundation, 2005 and the Museu Afro Brasil, 2006, São Paulo), Spain (Caixanova Foundation, 2003, and Museo Würth La Rioja, 2008), Luanda (Portuguese Cultural Centre, 2009), in Italy (Art Forum Würth, Rome, 2010), in Brussels (Espace Européen pour la Sculpture, 2007 and the European Parliament, 2012) and in China (Yan Huang Museum, Beijing, 1994, Today Art Museum, Beijing, 2007, Suzhou Jinji Lake Art Museum, Suzhou, 2012 and Shaanxi Provincial Art Museum in Xian, 2013). In 2012, he was elected the President of the National Society of Fine Arts. At the José de Guimarães International Centre for the Arts, in Guimarães, he has participated in numerous exhibitions and reassembly of the artist’s collections, which are deposited there on loan, free of charge. Between 2016 and 2018 he participated in several exhibitions, including in particular “Esconjurations in the Millennium bcp Collection and other works by José de Guimarães”, at the Millennium Gallery, in Lisbon, “Portugal Portuguese - Contemporary Art” at the Museu Afro-Brasil in São Paulo, and “L’Internationale des Visionaires”, curated by Jean-Hubert Martin, in Montolieu, France, In 2019, in the Musée Würth Erstein France, he inaugurated the retrospective exhibition “José de Guimarães - De L’Artiste à L’Anthropologue”. In Lisbon, in the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) he inaugurated the exhibition, “A Volta ao Mundo” (Around the World), a retrospective of his graphic work, accompanied by a critical catalogue of the work on display (1963-2019). He received the Career Award from the Portuguese Society of Authors (SPA). In Shanghai, he inaugurated two sets of public art entitled “Gates” and “Cylinder Building”. In 2020, he inaugurated the exhibition “José de Guimarães, Von Künstler zum Anthropologen” in the Würth Haus Rorschach, Switzerland and “Dioramas” in the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Conceição, in Lisbon. He recently made a new series of silkscreen prints “Drawings in the Sand” for the Portuguese Serigraphy Centre, Lisbon.His work is represented in the most relevant institutional collections in Portugal and all over the world, in particular in Japan and Germany. His work proposes crossovers with the art of non-Western African, Chinese and Meso-American civilizations – in an incessant search for non-verbal relationships, that is also influenced by his intense activity as a collector over several decades.

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