The Collection ofJosé de Guimarães

A Coleção de José de Guimarães

The Artist's CollectionJosé de Guimarães
Currently on display at the International Arts CenterJosé de Guimarães, the artist's collectionJosé de Guimarães,is composed of African tribal, Chinese archaeological art (jades, bronzes and terracotta) and pre-Columbian art from Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica (terracotta, textiles and metals), and a representative set of his own work. The number of artefacts collected over more than four decades grew along with his life: trips to Paris, visits to museums around the world and a dense bibliography as part of the research he systematically undertakes on the specimens he collects.

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José de Guimarães he collected to understand the other (the quality of being) and others – that which is different, that has a heritage and habits that are radically different from his own. The artist refers to his project as a spiritual project, as a (individual) journey in the form of a circle in which a kind of (eternal) return to the very condition of the (collective) origin takes place. In a way, this journey is a spiritual exercise, in the broadest sense of the term, a reiterated ritual, a way of proceeding, a renewed and always demanding discovery, the discovery of oneself through the other.This art collection corresponds to the mental map, to the atlas that the artist drew through the trips he structured in his artistic and humanist research. The result is a combination of pieces that translate concerns, obsessions, the imagination whose nature is a porous, mestizo, cannibalistic being. The theme of death is predominant, not least because of the omnipresence of funerary pieces, but also because of the archaeological nature of the collections.Discover the characteristics of each collection included in the International Arts CenterJosé de Guimarães.

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African period
As Nuno Faria states, the Angolan period operated a radical transmutation in the thought and language ofJosé de Guimarães,The most palpable testimony of this is the African Alphabet, produced between 1970 and 1974, which is, in short, the acquisition of a new language influenced by ideographic thinking, typical of African tribal culture. The Alphabet is the learning of a language based on a cosmogonic richness, on a permanent reinvention of the founding myth and not reified or mediated by the word. Saying, communicating with (the) other, implies a negotiation with the complexity and radical diversity of nature, a transforming and animist capacity, the use of imagination and the summoning of the founding creative dynamics. From learning African art, in its primitive, ritualistic and initiatory form, the artist took what is the vocabulary, the basis of all his work, whose grammar, operating through the articulation of recurring fragments in combinatory possibilities, refers to the ideographic language. characteristic of a culture with an oral matrix that operates through direct, objectual and metaphorical transmission and exchange. The ideograms, the use of the symbol, the clear form, usually translated into a negative through the use of the silhouette, became, more than an important form of recognition, the possibility of overcoming a dialectical and rhetorical vision of the world.The masks have become a symbol of this collection but it is also a symbol of the African territory. Between 1960 and the beginning of 1970, the mask appears in the imagination ofJosé de Guimarães, summoning and representing the spirits of the ancestors, by often combining human and animal motifs in an attempt to unite man with his natural environment. The mask becomes a recurring motif in the work ofJosé de Guimarães, obsessively revisited, in black and white or color, drawing by sight or in imagination, as if the act of doing were a ritual of possession or transformation – the always repeated exercise of impersonating another in order to rediscover oneself. .There are about 2000 items that make up the collection of Africa byJosé de Guimarães, begun in 1967 in Luanda, after a visit to the Museum of Angola that haunted him forever.

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Pre-Columbian Art
This collection demonstrates the multiplicity of the wealth of this land. Stone, wood, ceramics became support in a unique collage of beauty and complexity, in this vast domain that brings together about 300 pieces. The play Costa Centro-Norte (Peru), 700 – 1000 AD — is a good example of the ideological complexity and intensity of the movements of peoples and ideas that took place at the end of the period known as the Middle Horizon or Huari. During these centuries, a large amount of materials was produced, especially textiles, of northern origin, which are found in places on the central coast, such as the great sanctuary of Pachacámac, on the outskirts of the current city of Lima. In addition, local imitations of fabrics that reproduce the iconography of northern productions were produced in these valleys of the Peruvian central coast. The theme of death became, among the Aztecs, or Mexicas, an image “of the State”, its main emblem, the skull, appearing in many artistic supports: codices, architectural decoration or, as in this case, stone sculpture. The Aztecs founded a great empire, whose capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan, was one of the most important cities in pre-Columbian America. All these objects were part of funerary remains that reflected the importance that the deceased had had in life, within his community. This practice was common to all Andean cultures throughout the Pre-Hispanic Period and survived even after the arrival of the Spaniards, creating a complex religious syncretism between the new Christian beliefs and the ancient Andean rites.

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Chinese art
The collection of Chinese art gathered byJosé de Guimarãesrepresents one of the most significant periods in China's cultural and artistic history. The collection of jades, bronzes and terracotta is an approach to an imaginary that reflects the matrix structures of the ethical and aesthetic thought of Chinese civilization. The ritual, ceremonial, sacrificial and transcendental nature of the objects is the fundamental element for the choice of materials.Some of the objects included in this collection are the jade weapons played a fundamental role in the context of sacred rituals and official state ceremonies, being used either as sacrificial objects or as symbols of power; Glazed terracotta stove models were quite popular during the Han dynasty, as an essential element of everyday food preparation. The square or rectangular opening lower in the center was used to place the wood and keep the temperatures high. And finally, similar to ding (鼎) type vessels, hu (壺) type wine jugs were profusely produced throughout the Bronze Age, however with specific characteristics according to the trends of the time, both in terms of form and in terms of decoration. Traditionally, hu are pear-shaped wine containers with two side handles, which may have a lid. During the Shang dynasty they were often decorated with large taotie masks (饕餮), while during the Western Zhou dynasty ornamentation with real animals was privileged.

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