Who was the Portuguese artist João Vieira?

Quem foi o artista português João Vieira?

It is opportune to remember João Vieira.
Today, because in our Gallery we welcome your works;Ever, as he is a plastic artist of unusual stature in the panorama of Portuguese arts, with a dimension that goes beyond the perimeter around which it has been usual - not to say vulgar - to delineate.

From 1951, when he spent (a brief two years…) at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts, until his disappearance, which occurred almost six years ago, his legacy still needs wider dissemination and deeper study. Fortunately, we are pleased to note that João Vieira still arouses interest andexcites the curiosity of discovery.

In 1956, as part of what came to be known as the “Grupo do Café Gelo”, working in co-leased rooms with José Escada (1934-1980), René Bertholo (1935-2005) and Gonçalo Duarte (1935-1986) located in the floor above the aforementioned Café, exhibited for the first time in a collective exhibition in Lisbon.

The following year, in Paris, he studied with Henri Goetz (1909-1989) at the “Académie de la Grande Chaumière” and worked with Arpad Szenes (1897-1985).

In 1958, the “Grupo do Café Gelo”, now in a wider circle with the participation of António Costa Pinheiro, the Madeiran Lourdes Castro, the Bulgarian Vladimirov Javacheff (Christo) and the German Jan Voss, co-founded the “Grupo KWY” which gave the name to the magazine that was published until 1964. It should be noted that the letters chosen to designate this circle, kwy, are those that not listed of the Portuguese alphabet, suggesting their express and deliberate choice as a means of wanting to signify “Ká Wamos Yndo”. 12 issues of this magazine were published, bringing together a remarkable set of visual and literary works.

In the Galeria do Diário de Notícias, in 1959, his first individual exhibition takes place. The following year, the first exhibition of the “KWY Group” took place in Lisbon, at the National Society of Fine Arts.

In an interview given in 2006, João Vieira, at the presentation of his book on Cesário Verde (1855-1886), by way of clarification, stated:

“From the moment I paint with letters, everything is related to Cesário Verde. I started painting with letters because I wanted to make poems with painting”.

His work “Equação”, from 1959, marks an exercise in synthesis that is transversal to all of his later work: the alphabets, Greek and Latin, and the texts of his favorite poets, Cesário Verde and Herberto Helder (recently deceased) .

Between 1964 and 1967, we see him as a professor at the “Maidstone College of Art”. Back in Lisbon, he dedicates himself to theatrical scenography and sporadically to television, which are practically the matrix of the exhibition at “Galeria Judite Da Cruz”, in 1970, entitled

“The Spirit of the Letter”.

In the 70's, 80's and 90's he exhibited, individually and collectively with some regularity. However, in 2001, the exhibition of the “Centro Cultural e Belém” must be highlighted, specifically resuming the “KWY Group”, its collection, meanings and repercussions.

He was eagerly preparing a solo exhibition to be held at the “Cordoaria Nacional” which his death made unfeasible.

At the moment, until the 27th of September, the “Museum of the Serralves Foundation” in Porto” (between the 23rd of May and the 27th of September) exhibits works from its collection by artists from the “KWY Group”.

What is the justification for the interest in the “KWY” themes?

From the outset its eclectic, open and uncompromising character with classifications, scholastic and dogmatic tendencies. Added to the lucidity of its members in the correct interpretation of the historical moment in which they were integrated: the rebuilding of post-war Europe and the stimulus arising from the impetus of the profound political, economic and social changes in development.

The “KWY” they did not publish a single program or artistic manifesto, like other movements that preceded them. They didn't bother to lay down any rules, any metric system and theories, as a pompous legacy of his genius to future generations, but instead, as Kipling would say, “without pretensions of being a sage giving lessons in love” (in the version by Félix Bermudes).

However, without being a movement, the “KWY” intersect with other contemporary publications such as “Sens Plastique” and “Daily.Bul” and with other manifestations such as “Nova Figuração”, Portuguese, “Nouveau Réalisme”, “Espírito Fluxus”, “El Paso ”.

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