"Now, João Cutileiro he knows, of the human body, what is perhaps the most moving part of it: harmonious imperfection. All the eroticism of the women he sculpts resides there, in this apparent paradox. Today, a Venus that came out of Cutileiro's hands would have a waist that was fragile for the volume and weight of her breasts, slender arms, almost girlish shoulders, and thighs as dense and restless as mercury. Facing the figures of Cutileiro, the pleasure of looking is, in fact, an erotic pleasure. However, not the ambiguous and imposing enjoyment of the “voyeur”: here, the observer is no longer a voyeur, he has become an agent and is his own accomplice and concealer. Looking at these nudes, the well-known and reassuring assertion that total nudity is chaste loses its meaning. These women and men are not undressed to be shown in a Greek temple or a modern museum: they are naked for love. Which is, let's face it, the best reason there can be for taking off our clothes.” - Jose Saramago
João Cutileiro and the marble
The artist João Cutileiro profoundly marked sculpture and the very identity of the history of Portuguese art, by reinventing the means of production. He began his studies at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes and later at the Slade School with Reginald Butler. In the 1960s, he began to exhibit and work with different themes and materials, always bearing in mind his political ideology and the defense of freedom of artistic expression. In 1966, the artist introduced electric stone-cutting machines to his production, which allowed him to dedicate himself exclusively to marble. Through the use of this elementJoão Cutileiro went beyond academic statuary and built a new language. The use of stone influenced a new generation and broke not only the barriers of art, but also the taboos of a society, deeply Catholic and influenced by the beliefs of the Estado Novo. Throughout his career, he was recognized through public and private commissions, in which the artist recreated historical, allegorical and religious characters or moments (Monumento ao 25 de Abril in Lisbon, D. Sebastião in Lagos, Homage to the Fisherman in Póvoa do Varzim ). In addition to these themes, the sculptor explored others such as warriors, flowers, trees and birds, bifid figures and female figures (torsos and girls). In this article we will address one of the themes that the artist remained faithful to, girls, in order to understand how the artist awakened the beauty of the female body by expressing instinctive pleasures.
The sensuality of the female body was a constant in her work, thus producing a tribute to women as a source of life and love. The sculptures of the torsos brought the artist closer to classic works, by linking the contours of female body elements, in order to awaken their beauty. The girls, name imposed by theJoão Cutileiro, marked a large part of his production. Predominantly these sculptures are made up of a marble body (white, cream, pink, brown or gray grey), colored eyes made of polished marble and hair also in the same material, roughly worked. Some of the figures are simple, while others are surrounded by forms of nature or scenographic spaces, thus expressing instinctive pleasures. Finally, we have the mannequins, made of separable and easy to transport parts that form a body or fragments of it.
The Lake of Tágides inJoão Cutileiro
Among the various sets of sculptures of female figures,João Cutileiro carved The Lake of Tágides at Parque das Nações in Lisbon. These evoke the Tágides, mythical figures that would live in the Tagus river, according to The Lusiads by Luís de Camões. These are represented in their favorite space, because according to mythology, nymphs are beings that live in the waters of rivers and seas. Stretched out to rest and bathe carefree, these mythical figures awaken a sensuality that questions the relationship between the body and the water.João Cutileiro creates the tagides, as if they were mannequins, with various fragments that are assembled and build a body. We can observe, through this set, that the workability and polishing of the stone, namely the marble, allow to reveal the sensitivity of the material and its plasticity.
Another example of the exaltation of sensuality, the mystical and the naive is the sculpture of the girl at Casa de Mateus. Its dimensions make it real and create a close interaction with the viewer. The girl immortalized in this space demonstrates her pain and anguish through the lightness and balance of her limbs. The polished marble conveys the simplicity and naturalness of its position, which contrasts with the surrounding environment.
In addition to sculpture,João Cutileiro he drew intensely, also creating in this format the girls with all their sensitivity, delicacy and sensuality. Human proportions are forgotten in these drawings, celebrating the physiognomy of the buttocks and breasts with increased proportions and a tapered waist. Whether in sculpture or drawing,João Cutileiro constantly portrayed the beauty of the female body with a human intensity for freedom.