Vespeira, Noctívolo, 1951
Vespeira, Noctívolo, 1951


entry: General Conditions


Curatorship: David Santos

Half a century ago about the beginnings of Marcelino Vespeira's painting, the Museu do Chiado presents the first retrospective of his work. This artist was one of the biggest names in Portuguese surrealist painting, capable of updating this poetics with the renewed practices of a second international generation, who mainly in the American continent, during the post-war period, explored new possibilities and languages ​​that surrealist poetics allowed.
In a Portugal completely undone and uninformed of any contemporary artistic contexts, Vespeira participates as the protagonist among others of a generation that fully assumes modernism as a fact generalized to all artistic practice. In addition, the plurality of movements that arise with their generation, confronting each other, denotes above all a definitive overcoming of the naturalist groups that circumscribed and limited the few glimpses of previous generations.
Vespeira's work did not stop at surrealism - although it was his painter - and aware of the possibilities and developments of this practice he directed his painting to a research of the inherent spatialities of an optical nature and which José Augusto França theorized as "elastic space". In fact, the abstraction of the 50s, in which Vespeira is once again one of the protagonists, proves to be a path of profuse experiences, very diverse, but in its most organic aspects, we cannot forget a set of systems inherited from surrealism. There, there was a fundamental transit of Portuguese art and beyond; de Vespeira was certainly with a declared tenacity.
The eroticism that crosses his painting, configures it, reveals it as a body or field of many drives, takes on a dimension that makes Eduardo Viana, who in another generation singularly experienced the sensuality of painting, and certainly not by chance, was his companion. of gatherings and bullfights. Thus, the final phase of Vespeira's work is an unveiling without compromise of the carnality of painting as an unlimited surface of pleasure, always metaphorizing sex, because all eroticism is a metaphor of an absolute.
Accompanying this exhibition is a vast catalog of the artist's work, which has been largely shielded and reflected by an essay that its author and commissioner David Santos organized and which will certainly be a landmark in the bibliography on Vespeira. Rui Afonso Santos, in the continuity of the exhaustive survey he has been carrying out on the history of design in Portugal, could not forget Vespeira's very important graphic work, which is so little overlooked. The essay he wrote reveals a complementary facet of the artist. The work of coordinating the entire edition that made it possible to achieve the desired rigor was the responsibility of Nuno Ferreira de Carvalho, for which I would like to praise him. The extensive photographic campaign was carried out by the IPM Photographic Documentation Division. To the entire team at the Museu do Chiado, who worked in the most diverse areas so that the catalog and the exhibition could be carried out within the highest quality standards, as the artist's work deserved, I want to emphasize my heartfelt thanks.
But it is above all Marcelino Vespeira with his important clarifications, absolute availability, memory, good humor and great friendship that I want to express my thanks and my profound admiration for.