Paulo Teixeira Pinto Will and Representation 2006

Written for the exhibition
The Show Is About to Start / O Espectáculo Vai Começar – Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Galeria de pintura do Rei D. Luís, Lisbon, 2007

The lit lamp
(Someone else lit it)1

    Fernando Pessoa


I

The show started, actually, long ago. Twenty years later, Millennium bcp appears to commemorate an important landmark in its activity, by once again taking part in the divulgation of Manuel Amado’s work. Back then, our purchase of his series of paintings on the memories of trains, stations and halts was followed by its exhibition in this same Rua Augusta building, on the occasion of its inauguration, and by a national and international tour – which culminated at its showing in Washington’s Smithsonian Institution. Sponsoring the arts is by definition an act of will, and one’s appreciation of an artist finds its clear expression by following his career as much as possible. That is the reason why Manuel Amado’s paintings hold pride of place in the Millennium bcp Art Collection.

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1. ‘Of special significance is the light, shade and the atmosphere they create.’2 This formulation is by Bruno Munari, who then commented that, in these train stations, you never find anyone ‘to ask for information,’ not even ‘the bag’s owner’ or ‘whoever left the bicycle’...


II

The same can be said of Fernando Pessoa’s (triple) room, that dreamed, silent, deserted room where time is suspended three times: we never see who opened the window, who lit the lamp that casts on the vague floor / a wavering circle3. However, the absence of the human figure does not imply dehumanisation: the gaze of the one who observes and depicts is quite present here. These paintings are frequently compared to Hopper’s; affinities between them are, indeed, evident. However, Hopper’s dejection and melancholy are not present in Manuel Amado’s work. Nostalgia, perhaps; and, at least in this new series, a profound irony: even the commedia dell’arte figures appear as cut-outs, as inanimate as the scenery, their wooden framework visible. They become representations of representations of representations…   

III
Y pues representaciones
es aquesta vida toda,
merezca alcanzar perdón
de las unas y las otras. 4
Calderón de la Barca


Nostalgia, surely. It is no coincidence that this new series appears on the sixtieth anniversary of Fernando Amado’s foundation of Casa da Comédia and of the premiere of his play, Caixa de Pandora. This makes it, of course, also a homage to that great, and never sufficiently acknowledged, name of Portuguese Culture. Thus we find ourselves in the world of the theatre, ‘a vertiginous world because, in spite of being an image of life, it is larger than our everyday existence’.5 It asks the question: ‘What is, in the end, the theatre from the inside?’6 Then, come attempts to answer it: ‘The theatre is more than just a scene. It combines the scene and the audience’. And, more than the world of the theatre, what we have here is the great theatre of the world. Life is (also) a dream, and its actor, while playing it, is a poet: ‘If he lacks the poetic gift […] he will be unable to deliver a true representation, that is to say, to lend presence to an imagined adventure’.7

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Twenty years later, we once again echo Munari’s words: ‘Auguro a Manuel di continuare a dipingere, sono curioso di vedere cosa farà ancora...’8



1 Fernando Pessoa, ‘Abat-jour’, Poesias de Fernando Pessoa, Lisbon, Nova Ática, 2006 (17th printing), pp. 223-224.
2 Railway Stations – Manuel Amado, The Wilson Center (Washington, DC / Smithsonian Institution Building), May 1987.
3 Fernando Pessoa, op. cit.
4 Pedro Calderón de la Barca, El Gran Teatro del Mundo (final lines).
5 Fernando Amado, ‘O que o Público não vê – o Teatro por Dentro’, Peças de Teatro, org. by Teresa Amado / Vítor Silva Tavares, preface by Augusto Sobral, Lisbon, INCM, 2000, p. 562.
6 Idem, ibidem, p. 592.
7 Idem, ibidem, p. 564.
8 Railway Stations – Manuel Amado, The Wilson Center (Washington, DC / Smithsonian Institution Building), May 1987.