“I am always telling my own story” - Graça Morais
Who is it Graça Morais?
Graça Morais is one of the most notable Portuguese visual artists today. Involved in mystery and surprise, transmits to the spectator, from the act of painting, his memory of the rural world, of the village of Vieira in Trás-os-Montes, where he was born and raised. Rural activities and habits weave the intense lines for her creations, thus revealing the reality of the artist herself and 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 Belarusian Metro Station in Moscow, among others. In 1983, he represented Portugal at the XVII Bienal de São Paulo and in 2008, the Contemporary Art Center was inauguratedGraça Morais (CACGM) in Bragança, designed by the architect Souto Moura, which has a nucleus of several rooms dedicated to the work of the painter.
Graça Morais: The History of the Rural
As the olive tree is linked to the national territory,Graça Morais is immensely immersed in the Portuguese rural atmosphere and mythology, more specifically in Trás-os-Montes, in the extreme northeast of Portugal. He divides his time between his studios in Lisbon and Vieiro-Freixiel, the village in the north of Portugal where he was born in 1948. This is where he nurtured the ideas and images that we see represented in his works, from dogs, cats and goats, to the violence of men and the cruelty of nature. Raw and natural, Graça Morais expresses the other side of its origins, thus making known the human being, its abilities and stories. 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 recording clothes, to hair, passing through the very relationship that individuals have with the earth.Graça Morais compares an artist's act of creation with the affection that people have for the earth and for creating something in it that will later bear fruit. Her paintings and drawings are populated by female figures who tell the artist's own story but also weave mythical and tragic choreographies of the secrets of working women from a generation before her own. In recent years, he has become increasingly involved with human violence, portraying “a transfigured world” full of war and other problems.
“There is a very great and complete knowledge between the physical and your memory, your mind. The women I usually paint are very submissive, very suffering, but at the same time women endowed with a great personality and they are people who 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 in their heads, the stories of a village, the stories of the world.” — Graça Morais
Contemporary Art Center Graça Morais
In 2008, the CACGM - the Contemporary Art Center was inauguratedGraça Morais, a reference architectural project by the architect Souto de Moura, Pritzker Prize 2011. This center has a core of seven rooms dedicated to the work of the painterGraça Morais, in an exhibition program frequently renewed, reinforced by other multidisciplinary initiatives, namely temporary exhibitions of the most renowned national and foreign artists, educational programs, artistic practice workshops, concerts, performances and editorial activity. In 2021, the painter announced the donation of another 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 70 more. About the donation, the Portuguese artist declared: "Because I think I have this obligation to leave an important legacy here in the region where I live. I was born and to my country".
5 works byGraça Morais