“I'm always telling my own story” - Graça Morais
Who is Grace Morais?
Graça Morais is one of the most notable Portuguese plastic artists today. Wrapped in mystery and surprise, through the act of painting, she transmits to the viewer her memory of the rural world, of the village of Vieiro in Trás-os-Montes, where she was born and raised. The activities and rural habits weave the intense lines for her creations, thus making known the reality of the artist herself and of the people around her. In addition to painting, he created illustrations for books and tile panels in various buildings such as the Caixa Geral de Depósitos Building in Lisbon, the Belarus Metro Station in Moscow, among others. In 1983, he represented Portugal at the XVII Bienal de São Paulo and in 2008, the Graça Morais Contemporary Art Center (CACGM) was inaugurated in Bragança, designed by the architect Souto Moura, which has a nucleus of several rooms dedicated to the painter's work.
Graça Morais: The History of the Rural
As the olive tree is linked to the national territory, Graça Morais is immensely immersed in the atmosphere and in the Portuguese rural mythology, more specifically in Trás-os-Montes, in the extreme north-east of Portugal. He divides his time between the studios in Lisbon and Vieiro-Freixiel, a village in the north of Portugal where he was born in 1948. Here, ideas and images that we see represented in his works were fed, from dogs, cats and goats, to the violence of men and the cruelty of nature. In a raw and natural way, Graça Morais expresses the other side of her origins, thus making known the Human being, its abilities and histories. Daily life is the main theme in the artist's work, so it became essential to represent the activities of the people around her, from the registration of clothes, to hair, through the very relationship that individuals have with the land. Graça Morais compares the act of creating an artist with the affection people have for the land and for creating something in it that will later bear fruit. Her paintings and drawings are populated by female figures who tell the story of the artist herself, but also weave mythical and tragic choreographies of the secrets of working women from a generation before hers. In recent years, it has become increasingly involved with human violence, portraying “a transfigured world” full of war and other problems.
“There is a very large and very complete knowledge between the physical and your memory, your mind. The women I usually paint are very submissive, very suffering, but simultaneously women endowed with a great personality and they are people they know have great power, which is the power of motherhood. It is the power of being mothers of men and women and they are the ones who keep the stories of a village, the stories of the world in their heads.” - Grace Morais
Graça Morais Contemporary Art Center
In 2008, the CACGM - the Graça Morais Contemporary Art Center was inaugurated, a landmark architectural project by the architect Souto de Moura, Pritzker Prize 2011. This center has a nucleus of seven rooms dedicated to the work of the painter Graça Morais, in an exhibition program that is frequently renewed, reinforced still by other multidisciplinary initiatives, namely temporary exhibitions of the most renowned national and foreign artists, educational programs, artistic practice workshops, concerts, performances and editorial activities. In 2021, the painter announced the donation of over 70 paintings valued at half a million euros to the collection of the Center for Contemporary Art in Bragança. Graça Morais is the mentor of this space, being the first to offer 52 paintings, to which she now adds another 70. About the donation, the Portuguese artist said: "Because I think I have this obligation to leave an important legacy here in the region where I was born and to my country".
5 Works of Grace Morais