Mariana Pinto dos Santos Manuel Amado: The Theatre of Emptiness 2020

Written for the exhibition:
Manuel Amado, Pintura sem álibi / Painting Without Alibi – Museu Arpad Szenes – Vieira da Silva, Lisbon, 2020
By homely
gifts and
hindered Words the human
heart is told of nothing — "nothing” is
the force that renovates
the World— 1

Emily Dickinson
The exhibition Manuel Amado, Pintura sem álibi / Manuel Amado, Painting Without Alibi is centred on the painter’s works from the Millennium bcp collection, which constitute a very representative part of Manuel Amado’s body of work over the years and are showcased together with works from private collections.

The selection includes works from the series Comboios, Estações e Apeadeiros (1986), A Casa sobre o Mar (1992), A Grande Cheia (1996), Lisboa (which started in 1983), Encenações (which started in 2007) and O espectáculo vai começar… (2004-2007), as well as subjects he revisited several times, such as A Estrada da Comenda, the beach, houses and their corners or the still life paintings he called Grupos e Pequenos Encontros.

These works share a common feature: bleakness and an economy of representation — human figures are nearly always absent. They are also indebted to Manuel Amado’s formal education and previous work as an architect (up to 1987), which is to be found in his frequent option for depicting built spaces, as well as in geometrical drawing and his tightly-controlled line and composition. These features have been mentioned by many authors over the years2, together with a certain "evidence”3 or seemingly photographic realism, in relation to which a pictorial genealogy of names mentioned by the painter as having been important to his education has been established. Still, if, on the one hand, he was influenced by several names in the history of twentieth-century painting, on the other hand, he clearly ceased to relate to them. In the beginning, he was fascinated by De Chirico and Matisse as well as Magritte, for instance, whereas Giorgio Morandi (with whom Amado thought he had an affinity) proved to be disappointing4. According to Amado himself, his painting had nothing to do with those canonical names. Edward Hopper— whom Amado began to boundlessly admire from the moment he discovered him during a trip to the United States in the 1980s— also differed from his path in painting, not only because the former’s representation was linked to American imagination, but also because Amado thought that the human presence in Hopper’s paintings meant the introduction of the time factor, which he tried to keep away from his paintings at all costs (of which more later). Hence, these references are either formative or late discoveries in which he saw possible affinities rather than a deliberate attempt to be part of a recognisable pictorial vocabulary.

One common feature between Manuel Amado and these (and other) twentieth-century painters may well be his choice of realist figuration, often in a move away from modern painting dictates. It is through figuration that he faces his own personal imagination on canvas, staging his experience of the places he inhabited during his lifetime. He used to paint with oil, unlike so many painters who abandoned it following the coming of acrylic paint, which dried faster and did not smell. Manuel Amado really enjoyed the slowness of oil painting, not only because of the process itself ("[Painting] is about an endless number of small or big gestures, options, corrections, erasures, going back, starting over, taking your time until you get to the end result. It is a brutal melee between the painter, the canvas, the brushes and the paints”5), but also because he began to paint several canvases at the same time: some determined the path of the others and were sometimes abandoned for a long time before he resumed work on them. He described his process in an interview with Maria João Seixas: "I always start by drawing with charcoal. Then I paint a few watercolours using turpentine to begin with, with little fat. I keep on drawing, using those first layers of paint. Next, if necessary, I use a T-square and a professional set square for the vertical and horizontal lines and then I start laying the layers that will lead to the final resolution of the painting. I always use plenty of very fine layers, with just a bit of paint, in a wash”6.

Writing on Manuel Amado’s body of work in 20077, Luísa Soares Oliveira remarked the way the oil technique, with all the juxtaposing of thin layers of paint applied with very thin brush strokes that blur the contours, goes against the idea that Amado’s painting is ruled over by architectural drawing. Despite its presence (as Amado always acknowledged), his education — as structural as it may be — is systematically erased on canvas by paint drawing, which overlaps and cancels the initial charcoal drawing. This confrontation, which Amado also mentions, is erased as well: the brush strokes seek to become invisible, and the whole lengthy work process is hidden in order to show only that which is represented on the canvas. Though it may be deemed by some as "formal”, "flat” and "innocent”8, his painting essentially brings back an old purpose of western painting: to show, rather than to show itself.

Contemplation and restlessness

Manuel Amado was not interested in a conversation with the art made by his contemporaries, even though he admired many of them and was close friends with some of them. In his own words: "I was never keen on doing that which my generation asked me to do. A generation that was hostile to me. Hostile to my way of painting”9. There is something delicately "Bartlebyan” in preferring not to do what might be expected, not complying with what was necessary to enter the debate on contemporary art. The hostility that Manuel Amado spoke of was arguably related to his choice of realist painting, bringing back a representational purpose with which contemporary art had long since broken away. However, Manuel Amado’s representations are only seemingly realistic. What is on canvas is built out of memory: an imagined, recalled reality that cannot be reconstructed, which is why his realism is far from photographic.

If there is disquiet— a threat — in Manuel Amado’s paintings, as Paula Rego mentioned10, or "an uncomfortable disturbance settles in”, in Vitor Silva Tavares’s words11, they stem from his ceaseless search for suspended time. Manuel Amado used to say that he was interested in space, which was why the human figure was absent: "a beach with tents and no one around. If I insert someone there (they may be sitting very quietly, reading — they must be still), if I insert a character, the picture you see has a reduced timeframe. If there’s no one there, the picture may last half an hour, one hour, two hours — it makes no difference whatsoever. A character would introduce the time factor, which is something I’m not interested in. What I’m interested in is that which can be seen from afar— space, not time”.12 Hence, for Manuel Amado, painting is a mechanism to stop time: the present as well as memory’s oneiric time, imaginary, cinematic time, as in a cinema, where there is a momentary (yet complete) cut from real-time, which is on pause outside. There, you can evoke images of spaces where time has elapsed, or may elapse, undoing chronology. That which can be seen from afar, as the painter says, are images of remembrance, fantasmatic images where experience and action are latent, but which are frozen, in-between breaths. That is where disquiet lies, in suspended breathing.


A Grande Cheia [The Big Flood], a series of which a painting is on display in this show, is made of empty spaces, much like other previous and later paintings. Nonetheless, in this series they are flooded in, rather openly associating calm and emptiness to abandonment and catastrophe13. The distancing from the real is intensified in the duplication of the image and the muddying in the mirror that is represented by water, and which doubles and accentuates the distorting effect of memory.

There is a different kind of disquiet as well. By deliberately growing absent in an exercise of timeless contemplation stripped of all that might disturb it, painting paradoxically renders visible all that is left outside. There is a threat that the contemplation may be interrupted, that time may take over spaces and change them, and that the voracity and the anxiety of the experience of the present may return. This disturbance can be related to what Nietzsche described long ago: "People live for the present, the live at top speed, — they certainly live without any sense of responsibility; and this is precisely what they call "freedom.”14. Contradicting the false feeling that freedom lies in living for the absolute present, Manuel Amado’s painting uses confined spaces to exercise a different idea of freedom, one that involves the necessary staging of the remembrance of places of affection, to which you cannot go back. This is another reason why Paula Rego states that his paintings are claustrophobic15: fixed from memory on canvas, these spaces seem to stage Cesare Pavese’s famous ending in The Beach, the realisation of the inhabitability of the places where you were happy16.

In this contrast between the window of memory that is the canvas and the off-canvas, between confinement and an idea of freedom that is associated to haste, contemplation is put to the test.

Cinema and the mirror

Amado’s painting was made up of three things, as he said in 2018: old painting, cinema and his home. "I was made of cinema”17. "Home” was actually a plural: his childhood home, the ones where he lived, and other people’s homes as well. And, as an extension of his home, gardens, built landscapes — seemingly controlled yet indomitable in the living, metamorphosing matter of which they are made. He was very fond of corners, hallways, landings, stairs, pieces of beach tents on the sand: hidden places that you only notice when you fully inhabit a home or spend an entire endless Summer observing the sand — in short, when you enjoy peace and quiet for a long time. Nonetheless, these scenes may also refer back to transitional moments in cinema, which are necessary for the narrative montage, during which time is suspended, is in suspense. These inner and outer places of memory thus become the set for imaginary films as well: frames of films that have never been shot — or, conversely, projections of sets from cinema classics in personal, recalled places. The painter said the canvas is always about "scenes on stage”18. Roles are reversed: the places that were lived in become the places of the films that inhabit the imagination, mixing living memory and cinema memory— fiction and reality mirror each other and project each other on the screen that is the canvas19.

Ruth Rosengarten noted the importance of cinema in Manuel Amado’s paintings in an essay in 1990, "(…) not only in the sequences of empty ‘frames’ and frames-within-frames — doors, windows, mirrors — but also in the continued deployment of shadows cast by objects or persons outside the picture frame and occupying the position of the viewer himself. This playing on the thin edge which separates absence from presence owes a debt to the cinematic use of the ‘subjective camera’, for instance by Hitchcock; it is the camera, in other words, which occupies — and hence locates the spectator, quite literally in — the protagonist’s shoes, following him or her slowly up a flight of shadowy steps to push open a creaking door…”20.

Returning to this analysis, the idea of projection and reflection on a screen-canvas goes beyond the painter’s recalled projections, extending them to the spectator, who sees their own reflection in them as well. Interestingly, the word mirror is mentioned by several authors regarding Manuel Amado’s paintings. Vitor Silva Tavares wrote in 1984: "Then appears, on the other side of the mirror, (my own) space in the labyrinth: this painting awakens something in me I had long forgotten, fills up some hidden part of me with an impossible fascination”21 (my italics). The reference to Alice, to the other side of the mirror, is the purpose of the subjective camera mentioned by Ruth Rosengarten: the spectator takes the painter’s point of view and begins to recall an indefinite, forgotten memory — a sensorial experience that goes beyond a pictorial experience and is therefore mostly optical. Even though it was the painter (rather than the spectator) who forgot, the viewer’s processes of oblivion and remembrance are reflected in the latter. Painting reveals that something was forgotten, yet fails to bring it back.

Without alibi

Manuel Amado answered one of Maria João Seixas’s questions in an interview thus: "My paintings have no literature in the background. Their images are made of encounters and memories, which may evoke other encounters and memories to those who look at them. There is nothing else to it other than what is represented there”.22

In 1984, Vitor Silva Tavares wrote: "There is no room for confessions or parallel readings: precise, sharp, his paintings stand before our gaze in their patient handicraft. They are what they are — the real in painting or painting without alibi”.

"There isn’t a shadow of an individual pamphlet”, said José Cardoso Pires. For Ruth Rosengarten, "one of the hallmarks of Manuel Amado’s work is the absence of deliberation”.

The phrase painting without alibi can be seen as painting without a pretext, with no need for justifications: it is what it is. No words, no narratives, no interferences.

If you look up the etymology of the word alibi, from the Latin alius ibi, meaning "elsewhere”, you may understand without alibi as "without an elsewhere”. Transposing it to Amado’s work, painting is nowhere but in that place of laborious staging— the canvas — and does not seek to convey or propose anything. The cinematic, whodunit-like resonance is also clearly evident in this phrase, and is therefore a particularly effective way of seeing Manuel Amado’s paintings.


Coincidentally, a collection of essays by Jacques Derrida translated into English was published in 2002 as Without Alibi23. In the Preface, the French philosopher reflects extensively on the phrase without alibi, unfolding it into polysemy, which is partly relevant to understanding these paintings (freely, as Derrida engages in a conversation with his translator into English and revisits other personal concepts that shall not be broached here).

On the one hand, without alibi means showing yourself, taking centre stage, facing— not in the sense of bravado, but of the impossibility of finding an excuse not to, with no possible postponement24, i.e., with no time expansion, no time factor. Hence, besides space, an alibi is also about time: I was not there at the time of the crime; I was elsewhere at that moment. The meaning of without alibi becomes expanded: with no other place and no other time, which is potentially paralysing — no movement, no unfolding and no progression.

On the other hand, to claim an alibi is to defend oneself from an accusation. "The alibi always tells a story of lying, and thus of perjury, every lie being first of all a perjury. Yet, a perjurer will always be able to claim that he neither lied nor perjured: he was simply elsewhere, his mind was elsewhere, and his attention disjointed. His distraction or amnesia, thus his finitude, serve him as an alibi”.25 If distraction or amnesia are an alibi, without alibi may be understood as the opposite of an alibi, i.e., the effort to remember what was forgotten, to go beyond finitude — not as a cliché, as in achieving eternity through one’s work, but finitude of what is now in the past — and recreating what has already finished through remembering. Hence, without alibi means that the finitude of past experience is boycotted and restaged on canvas.

However, Derrida continues, "there is no reason to be proud of this ‘without alibi’: it does not prove innocence; it does not correspond to an assumed responsibility, here now, but rather to an unjustifiable fault or lack. Almost to a blatant offence, flagrante delicto. In the best of cases, to a flagrant offence of irresponsibility”26. As the word alibi always implies an incrimination, an accusation (and therefore a responsibility), one might think that in this case there is a responsibility towards contemporary art, the accusation that Manuel Amado’s paintings are outside the critical or interventional, or, in any case, current, a role claimed by contemporary art. Hence, not having an alibi would mean being irresponsible towards contemporary art, estranged from it. It means mostly not to defend oneself or in any way resist an accusation. An alibi absolves. Not having an alibi means assuming the crime. It implies a certain passivity, which does not mean lack of action. It is to refuse discourse, word, justification or excuse. In Manuel Amado’s paintings, it is to persevere in an art different from the word, purged from the narrative that assumes the recalled emptiness as here and now.

Theatre

"In the background, there was always peace and quiet, essential qualities to the visual and timeless, in which I was interested”, Manuel Amado wrote in 2014, in an unpublished note27. On that same note, he also stated that his paintings on theatre, from the series O espectáculo vai começar… (2004-2007), and later those from the series Encenações (2011 and subsequent years)28 that "peace and quiet” were broken and gave way to silhouettes cut out of cardboard, evoking action literally on stage and afterwards in the household or at the window29, where "the most diverse emotions taken from our collective memory surfaced”. Though the human figure is broached, it is but a cardboard figure. Characters are merely part of the backdrop. In these paintings, there is an implicit history of painting: of the artist’s own painting as well as of Western painting, in which the canvas is a stage for the staging of memory, eliminating its temporal ballast— again, not as transcendence or eternity, but as denial of time. Time is denied in order, not to replace it by the eternal — which would be an alibi — but to render it absent. In these paintings, the pictorial sense of representation joins the theatrical sense to take the canvas, the stage and memory as equivalent. To take representation as a condition of memory and at the same time to show that, in painting, all figuration is made of cardboard yet it is absolutely necessary to stage the real and try to fill its fleeting, instantaneous condition. Windows, which he chose for several of his Encenações [Stagings] in recent years (as in Palhaços [Clowns], which is showcased in this exhibition) reminds us of Leon Baptista Alberti’s teaching in his 1435 treaty De Pictura: the painter should think of the canvas as an open window. Much in the same way, a cinema screen and a theatre stage are windows to the unfolding of a story, the difference being that nothing can unfold in painting30.

The series O espectáculo vai começar… (from which three paintings are on display) can be seen as an evocation, not only of the major role of theatre in Manuel Amado’s education, but also very much as a free revisiting of the play Antes de Começar, by Almada Negreiros (1893-1970). In 1954, when it was performed for the first time, staged by the painter’s father, Fernando Amado (a playwright, a drama teacher at Conservatório Nacional and the founder of the Faculdade de Letras theatre group and later of Casa da Comédia, and one of Almada Negreiros’s closest friends), Manuel Amado was the prompter, getting to know the whole play by heart, which proved to be a marking experience. Manuel Amado had acted before (and would continue to do so until he went to university), both as a student in Colégio Moderno and in Mocidade Portuguesa, an institution created by the dictatorship for the political indoctrination of children and youngsters, which included a theatre group directed by António Manuel Couto Viana. He also worked as a scenographer on several occasions, and was marked by it as well: he designed the sets for plays staged by his father and later for other plays, namely for Teatro da Malaposta and Teatro Dona Maria II31.

Manuel Amado deeply regretted that his father, who died in 1967, had only been able to see his painting in its early days, as had Almada Negreiros (who saw theatre and the characters of Commedia del’Arte as archetypes of all art), and that both were unable to see how much his work owed to theatre32.

In the play Antes de Começar, Lourdes Castro played the role of the female puppet (and made the costumes and sets as well). Later, when she performed the play again at Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian’s ACARTE in 1984, she invited Manuel Amado to play the role of the male puppet. The play was a conversation between two puppets, who chatted and played after the family of puppeteers who presumably had made them and manipulated them for the audience left to announce the show — one can picture them shouting "The show is about to start” ["O espectáculo vai começar”, i.e., the title of the exhibition]. In peace and quiet, the puppets engage in a quintessential, childlike conversation that asks the questions that philosophy has tried to answer ever since the beginning of time: Who are we? What are we here for? What are we doing here? Several possible answers come up: they are made of scraps, assorted pieces of cloth and other materials that were once something else, and were made to look like people. They are representations who only become alive in the empty space before the beginning of the show, which requires the presence of humans. In the same way, Manuel Amado’s paintings represent fragments of memory that are recreated in an imagined whole (much like the spaces that were once inhabited) and refer back to a personal experience — of living, of a sensorial occupation of a place — albeit an indefinite experience. Empty spaces that open up to the projection of that sensorial experience, thus illusorily brought back.

* * *

When Manuel Amado made the series O espectáculo vai começar…, Lourdes Castro sent him a note that read: "Applause, applause. Manuel is back to theatre. To the world of theatre. To the empty theatre”. The way the note is written seems closer to Manuel Amado’s paintings than any essay or comment. Applause, comma, applause, full stop. As if the applause were a hiccup, a fleeting hint of a sound that had not been heard for a long time, echoing in the ear. A sound evoked by the empty space of theatre, but which cannot exist without a human presence, a show, time. The empty theatre, with no people— audience and actors alike — inside, fixes the moment before the beginning, freezing the pause that is necessary for the performance to begin. Manuel Amado said that those paintings "are fixed scenes; time does not go by”33. They are also scenes where there the backstage is all there is: everything is a set and a prop for the representation of the memory of theatre.

After the theatre and the staging series, Manuel Amado’s paintings can be seen retrospectively as a theatre of the empty where emptiness is staged in households, gardens, stairs, railway stations: all these places become suspended from an unfolding that is outside the canvas and cannot be projected on it. It is absent from representation. The spaces from which time has been emptied indefinitely prolong the wait for a narrative that will not come, a story that can never be told again: what happened cannot happen again.

The emptiness derives from listening, seeing and recalling, as well as showing. It is not to have an alibi and standing on stage/canvas before nothing. Still, this is the nothing Emily Dickinson speaks of in her poem in the epigraph: the force that renovates the World.
1 Just two examples: José Cardoso Pires wrote, "[h]ouses, walls, steps, objects, shadow angles: this whole world appears before us with the ostinato rigore of a survey or a "project description”. It reminds us of a land surveyor’s sharpness”. Essay for the catalogue of Manuel Amado solo show at Galeria de São Mamede, Lisboa, 1983; Carlos Monjardino mentioned "very clearly marked spaces [that seem to] seek to move away all impurity” ("A pintura de Manuel Amado”, in the catalogue O Conventinho da Arrábida, Fundação Oriente, Casa Garden, Macau, 1998).
2 As José-Augusto França referred to it in his essay "Uma pintura de evidência” [A Painting of Evidence], in the catalogue of the exhibition of paintings by Manuel Amado at Galeria Antiks Design, Lisbon, 1998.
3 A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018: "Though De Chirico marked me, there’s not much in common between us. He was a reference in the beginning. Morandi disappointed me — it turns out there was no connection. I’m not interested. I did some still life paintings, but they were completely different”. Also: "I don’t belong to any of those things that have been all the rage lately. I’ve taken my own road — closely linked, of course, to ancient painting, to Surrealism, to Magritte. Not that I’m very close to them, but that’s where I come from. People are made of what they saw when they were growing up”. In Marta Ferreira dos Reis, "Entrevista a Manuel Amado: ‘As pessoas são feitas daquilo que vão vendo’ ”, Público — Ípsilon, 15 November 2007.
4 Maria João Seixas, "Conversa com vista para… Manuel Amado”, Pública magazine, 28 January 2007.
5 Maria João Seixas, "Conversa com vista para… Manuel Amado”, Pública magazine, 28 January 2007.
6 Luísa Soares Oliveira, "A casa dos espelhos”, in the catalogue Manuel Amado. pinturaPINTURA, Fundação Dom Luís I, Centro Cultural de Cascais, Cascais, 2007.
7 "His paintings are all very formal. They are very flat compositions”, said Paula Rego, quoted by Catarina Alfaro in an essay for the catalogue O Verão era assim como uma casa de morar onde as coisas todas estão… (a selection of Manuel Amado’s paintings by Paula Rego), Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, 2016. "The truth is his is an innocent painting”, José-Augusto França, "Uma pintura de evidência”, in the catalogue of the exhibition of paintings by Manuel Amado at Galeria Antiks Design, Lisbon, 1998. In the same essay, França also deems Amado’s painting as "flat and impersonal”. Hellmut Wohl referred to innocence as well (catalogue Galeria Nasoni, 1992), and so did José Cardoso Pires, "Lisboa Revisitada”, in the catalogue Manuel Amado, Lisboa. Pintura 1975-1997, Palácio Galveias, Lisbon, 1998.
8 A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018.
9 "All these paintings have a threatening simplicity […]. It is as if he painted to eradicate a ghost, which he will never be able to do”, Paula Rego, quoted by Catarina Alfaro in an essay for the catalogue O Verão era assim como uma casa de morar onde as coisas todas estão… (a selection of Manuel Amado’s paintings by Paula Rego), Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, 2016, pp. 5-6.
10 Vitor Silva Tavares, in an essay for the catalogue of the exhibition of Manuel Amado’s paintings at Galeria da Alliance Française, Lisbon, 1984.
11 Marta Ferreira dos Reis, "Entrevista a Manuel Amado: ‘As pessoas são feitas daquilo que vão vendo’ ”, Público — Ípsilon, 15 November 2007.
12 Writing on this series, Francisco Bethencourt stressed the idea of the double disquiet of human abandonment and the disorder effect caused by water, and Fernando António Baptista Pereira pointed out the combination of serenity and devastation. Both essays are part of the catalogue Manuel Amado. La grande crue, Centre Culturel Calouste Gulbenkian, Paris, 2001.
13 Friederich Nietzsche, The Twilight of the Idols, transl. by Anthony M. Ludovici, Edinburgh and London, T.N. Foulis, 1911, p. 98 (accessed 8 June 2020). Even though the context of this quotation is quite different from the subject at hand — Nietzsche criticised modernity for preserving obsolete institutions such as marriage, for instance — his description still holds true.
14 "His paintings are all very formal. They are very flat compositions. The shadows, the composition evoke Edward Hopper’s work, but in a much more claustrophobic and dangerous way”. Paula Rego, quoted by Catarina Alfaro in an essay for the catalogue O Verão era assim como uma casa de morar onde as coisas todas estão… (a selection of Manuel Amado’s paintings by Paula Rego), Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, 2016.
15 "[…] no place is less habitable than where one was once happy”, Cesare Pavese, A Praia [1941], transl. by Alfredo Margarido, Portugália, undated, p. 154. Corroborating this reading, Luísa Soares Oliveira wrote on the exhibition O Verão era assim como uma casa de morar onde as coisas todas estão…, at Casa das Histórias in 2016: "Hence, a set; a boxed space, to which the Freudian concept of unheimlich— the disquieting strangeness that is quite close to Paula Rego’s comment — is actually appropriate. Unheimlich is always born out of the perception of a déjà vu […]. The Summer [Verão] mentioned in the title [which can be roughly translated as Summer Was Like A Home To Be Lived In Where Things Are…], appropriated from a line by Rilke, and summer houses in particular, are nothing but the place to which you always return, always in an attempt to experience what you once experienced”. Luísa Soares Oliveira, "Da simplicidade ameaçadora de Manuel Amado à turbulência inquietante de Paula Rego”, Público, 30 June 2016.
16 A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018.
17 A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018.
18 In 1983, José Cardoso Pires pointed out the "ever so discreet humour with which the fantastic coexists with the most palpable, objective real” (essay for the catalogue of Manuel Amado solo show at Galeria de São Mamede, Lisboa, 1983).
19 Ruth Rosengarten, in an essay for the catalogue Manuel Amado. Recent Paintings, Anne Berthoud Gallery, London, 1990. Republished in Portuguese in the catalogue Manuel Amado. Pintura, Fundación Antonio Pérez, Cuenca, 2004.
20 Vitor Silva Tavares, in an essay for the catalogue of the exhibition of Manuel Amado’s paintings at Galeria da Alliance Française, Lisbon, 1984. Mirrors were also mentioned by authors such as Eduardo Lourenço, "Espelho sem imagem” [Imageless Mirror] in the catalogue of Manuel Amado’s exhibition Viagem à volta de uma estação abandonada, Antiks, Lisboa, 2000; Luísa Soares Oliveira, "A casa dos espelhos” [The House of Mirrors] in the catalogue Manuel Amado. pinturaPINTURA, Fundação Dom Luís I, Centro Cultural de Cascais, Cascais, 2007; Nuno Júdice, "A Representação em Pintura” in the catalogue Encenações, Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes, Lisbon, 2011. Nuno Júdice also wrote Jogo de Reflexos [Game of Reflections], a book of poems in conversation with Manuel Amado’s series A Grande Cheia (1996), published in a bilingual edition by Éditions Chandeigne, Paris, 2001.
21 Maria João Seixas, "Conversa com vista para… Manuel Amado”, Pública magazine, 28 January 2007.
22 Jacques Derrida, Without Alibi, ed. and transl. by Peggy Kamuf, Stanford University Press, Stanford, California, 2002.
23 Jacques Derrida "Provocation”, idem, p. xv.
24 Jacques Derrida, "Provocation”, idem, p. xxvi.
25 Jacques Derrida, "Provocation”, idem, p. xxxi.
26 I wish to thank Teresa Amado for allowing me to see this document.
27 The series O espectáculo vai começar…, comprising about fifty paintings, was showcased in an exhibition at Palácio da Ajuda in 2007. In his catalogue essay, João Pinharanda pointed out the disquiet reiterated by the series: "There is much disquiet in Manuel Amado’s serene images. […] By adding the suggestion of action (which, as we have seen, is doubly false, because theatrical action is always false, and because even a simulation of action cannot be possible in this case), the signs grow stronger”. João Lima Pinharanda, "Teatro do impossível”, in the catalogue O espectáculo vai começar…, Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Galeria Dom Luiz, Lisbon, 2007.
28 On that series, which was still in its early days, he said: "in the meantime, I’m working on a show to be held in three, maybe four years’ time. Again, the subject is somewhat obsessive. It’s not theatre: it’s a bit linked to Surrealism, but it’s not really surrealista — I’m not a surrealist, although, as part of my generation, I have strong emotional and cultural connections to the world of Surrealism, which was all the rage when I was young. Now I’m going to revisit Surrealism through my painting”. Marta Ferreira dos Reis, "Entrevista a Manuel Amado: ‘As pessoas são feitas daquilo que vão vendo’ ”, Público — Ípsilon, 15 November 2007. What was at stake was not Surrealism, but rather the memory of Surrealism, reconfigured through the filter of remembrance and from the distant perspective of an outsider whose intention is not to present a surrealist proposal, but to visit another place of affection on canvas (in this case, a pictorial place). The show was held in 2011: Encenações, Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes, Lisbon (the catalogue includes an essay by Nuno Júdice, "A Representação em Pintura”), 2011.
29 Hellmut Wohl wrote that, for Alberti, perspective served istoria, whereas in Manuel Amado there is no istoria. In his painting, light and shadow are ends: realism and perspective — the Albertian window — are there merely to highlight them. Hellmut Wohl, in an essay in the catalogue Manuel Amado. Pintura 1971-1994, Museo de la Fundación Arte y Tecnologia, Telefónica de Madrid, Madrid, 1995, p. 13.
30 "One of the things I took great pleasure in doing — though I didn’t do it a lot, I did a few, anyway — was stage sets. I thought it was a wonderful thing. I loved it. I started designing stage sets when I was rather young, for some plays I made with a group of pupils — [José] Sasportes was there as well. I did a lot of theatre from age ten to nineteen, as an actor. First, under Couto Viana, who was head of drama at Mocidade Portuguesa. Also, at Colégio Moderno, under Manuel Lereno, who was an actor but quite a good stage director as well; and later a bit under my father, too: not much, though — I was no longer that into it by then”. A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018.
31 A conversation with Manuel Amado, recorded on 3 April 2018.
32 Manuel Amado, unpublished note, 2014.
33 Idem.