An artist of multiple expressions, painter, designer, illustrator, scenographer, dancer, decorator, poet, novelist, essayist, José Sobral de Almada Negreiros (S. Tomé, 1893 – Lisbon, 1970), a major creator of our modernism and futurism, appears as early as 1915 collaborating in the journal Orpheu, alongside Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá Carneiro, the year he wrote the Manifesto Anti-Dantas, militant document of rejection of academicism; in 1917, living in Paris, he began to sign "almada" with extended "d". Between 1927 and 1932 lives in Madrid, where he draws, exhibits, writes. In 1934 he marries the painter Sarah Affonso.
From oils to Brasileira do Chiado (1925) to the portrait of Fernando Pessoa (1954), from the stained glasses of the church of Our Lady of Fatima (1938) to the etched murals of the University of Lisbon (1957), from the numerous drawings for journals (Sempre Fixe and Diário de Lisboa), to the mural engraving – Começar – of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (1968-1969), Almada Negreiros, artist without masters, claims, with unusual determination and consistency of character, the lines of a poetics of modernity, in an aesthetic that also acknowledges contributions from cubism and abstraction. His name remains unique in portuguese culture and art of the twentieth century.
The artist creates various cards that will be passed to tapestry by the manufacture of Portalegre. Also the frescos painted in 1945 for the Maritime Station Platform of Alcantara, and in 1946-1949 for the Maritime Station Platform of Rocha do Conde de Óbidos, will undertake the same metamorphosis. From that group of works are exposed here “Quem não viu Lisboa não viu coisa boa”, from the Alcântara Station Platform, and two themes from the Station Platform of Rocha, a portarit of emigration and another of the Lisbon of Sunday leisure. Major works of portuguese art, in them Almada multiplies architectures and spaces, plans and perspectives, bodies and regards, materializing a kaleidoscopic Lisbon, collective synthesis of a soul planted beside the Tagus.
The option of bringing to the Côa these works by Almada is not disconnected from its status as a living area of rock art, embryonic mural art expressed in millenary engravings. Translating a state of the art, the Côa Valley engravings ritualize a mythical everyday, where sacred and profane merge, inviting, such as the mural-tapestries that we show, seeking an understanding of man, his culture, here carved or woven.
Since its creation, the manufacture of the tapestries of Portalegre claims to its tapestry the status as a work of art, the result of a share of the creative act: on one hand the painter who projects in the card – twofold study and final expression - his narrative, on the other hand the manufacture, collective workshop conference that beneath a critical mimesis recreates that narrative. It’s in this fruitful path, from score to concert, from project to edified architecture that card gives place to tapestry.