The Artist's CollectionJosé de Guimarães
Currently on display at the International Arts Center José de Guimarães, the artist's collectionJosé de Guimarães, It comprises African tribal art, Chinese archaeological art (jades, bronzes and terracottas) and pre-Columbian art from Mexico, Peru, Guatemala and Costa Rica (terracottas, textiles and metals), and a representative collection of his own work. The number of artefacts collected over more than four decades has grown 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.
José de Guimarães he collected to understand the other (the quality of being) and the others – that which is diverse, that has heritage and habits radically different from his own. The artist refers to his project as a spiritual project, as an (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 trip is a spiritual exercise, in the broadest sense of the term, a repeated 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, the atlas that the artist was drawing through the journeys that he structured in his artistic and humanist research. The result is a combination of pieces that translate concerns, obsessions, the imaginary 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.
As Nuno Faria states, the Angolan period operated a radical transmutation in the thought and language ofJosé de Guimarães, the most tangible testimony to this being 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 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 transformist and animist capacity, the use of imagination and the summoning of 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 by articulating recurrent fragments in combinatorial possibilities, refers to the ideographic language characteristic of an oral matrix culture that operates through transmission and direct, objectual and metaphorical exchange. The ideograms, the use of the symbol, the clear shape, usually translated into negative through the use of the silhouette, became, more than an important form of recognition, the possibility of overcoming a dialectical and rhetorical view 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, 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 making were a ritual of possession or transformation – the ever-repeated exercise of impersonating another in order to rediscover oneself .There are around 2000 items that make up the Africa deJosé de Guimarães, begun in 1967 in Luanda, after a visit to the Museu de Angola that haunted him forever.
This collection demonstrates the multiplicity of this land's richness. Stone, wood, ceramics became the support in a unique collage of beauty and complexity, in this vast domain that gathers around 300 pieces. The piece Costa Centro-Norte (Peru), 700 – 1000 AD — is a good example of the ideological complexity and intensity of the movements of populations and ideas that took place at the end of the period that we know as the Middle Horizon or Huari. During these centuries, a large amount of materials were produced, especially textiles, of northern origin, which can be found in places on the central coast, such as the great sanctuary of Pachacámac, on the outskirts of present-day Lima. Furthermore, in these valleys on the Peruvian central coast, local imitations of fabrics have been produced that reproduce the iconography of northern productions. Among the Aztecs, or Mexicas, the theme of death became a “State” image, with 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 spoils 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 old Andean rites.
The collection of Chinese art assembled byJosé de Guimarães represents one of the most significant periods in China's cultural and artistic history. The collection of jades, bronzes and terracotta is an approximation 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 jade weapons, which 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 very popular during the Han Dynasty as an essential element of daily life in food preparation. The square or rectangular opening below the center was used to place firewood and maintain high temperatures. And finally, like the ding (鼎) type vessels, the hu (壺) type wine jars were profusely produced throughout the Bronze Age, presenting, however, 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 vessels with two handles on the side and may have a lid. During the Shang dynasty they were often decorated with large taotie (饕餮) masks, while during the Western Zhou dynasty real animal ornamentation was privileged.