It is opportune to remember João Vieira.
Today , because in our Gallery we welcome your works; Always , as he is a plastic artist of unusual stature in the Portuguese arts panorama, with a dimension that goes beyond the perimeter around which it has been usual – not to say vulgar – to outline himself.
From 1951, when he spent two years at the Escola de Belas Artes in Lisbon, until his disappearance practically six years ago, his legacy still lacks wider dissemination and deeper study. Fortunately, we are pleased to note that João Vieira still arouses interest and excites the curiosity of the discovery.
In 1956, integrated in what came to be called “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 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 wide circle with the participation of António Costa Pinheiro, Madeirense Lourdes Castro, Bulgarian Vladimirov Javacheff (Christo) and German Jan Voss, co-founded the “KWY Group” which named the magazine that was published until 1964. Note that the letters chosen as the designation of this circle, kwy, are the ones that not listed of the Portuguese alphabet, suggesting their express and purposeful choice as a means of wanting to mean “ Ká Wamos Yndo ”. 12 issues of this magazine were published that bring together a remarkable set of plastic and literary work.
At the Galeria do Diário de Notícias, in 1959, his first individual exhibition took place. The following year, the first exhibition of the “Grupo KWY” took place in Lisbon, at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes.
In an interview given in 2006, João Vieira, at the presentation of his book on Cesário Verde (1855-1886), as an explanation, stated:
“From the moment I paint with letters, everything has been 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 runs through all 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 dedicated himself to theatrical scenography and sporadically to television, which were practically the mainstay of the exhibition at the “Galeria Judite Da Cruz”, in 1970, entitled
“The Spirit of the Letter”.
In the 70s, 80s and 90s he exhibited, individually and collectively, with some regularity. However, in 2001, the exhibition of the “Centro Cultural e Belém” should be highlighted, specifically retaking the “KWY Group”, its collection, meanings and repercussions.
He was busily preparing a solo exhibition to be held at the “Cordoaria Nacional” that his death made impossible.
At this time, until the 27th of September, the “Museum of the Serralves Foundation” in Porto” (between the 23rd of May and the 27th of September) will be exhibiting works from its collection by “Grupo KWY” artists.
What is the reason for the interest in “KWY” themes?
From the outset, its eclectic, open and uncommitted character with classifications, scholastic and dogmatic tendencies. The lucidity of its members is added to the correct interpretation of the historical moment in which they belonged: 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 artistic program or manifesto, like other movements that preceded them. They didn't occupied themselves with establishing any rules, none metric system and of theories, as a pompous legacy of his genius to future generations, but instead, as Kipling would say, “without the pretensions of a sage giving lessons in love” (in Félix Bermudes' version).
However, without being a movement, the "KWY" they cross paths 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 ”.