Mário Cesariny was born on August 9, 1923 in Lisbon. Attended School ofDecorative Arts António Arroio and studied music with the composer Fernando LopesGrace. At the age of 19 he was already writing, painting and drawing. He attended the first year of Architecture at the Escola Superior de Belas Artes in Lisbon, later at the Escola António Arroio, where he met some of the future companions of Portuguese surrealism. He became involved, for a short time, in the neorealist current. In Paris, he studied at the Academie de La Grande Chaumiére, where he met the founder and author of the French surrealist manifesto André Breton. This event in 1947 forever changed the life of Mário Cesariny, being a decisive moment in the development of his literary work. He returned to Portugal with the will to transgress and challenge the powerful machine of the dictatorship. I wanted to be free in your country. In the year of his return, in 1947, he joined the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa, which included Alexandre O'Neill, Marcelino Vespeira, António Pedro, Cândido Costa Pinto, João Moniz Pereira.
Some time later, as he did not agree with the group's ideological line, he moved away in a controversial way and founded the "Dissident Surrealist Group", with Pedro Oom, Cruzeiro Seixas, António Maria Lisboa, among others. They wrote a collective manifesto “The Prohibited Posting” and promoted the first exhibition of the Surrealists. These are times of affirmation of a movement that Mário Cesariny he will occupy himself later, when he decided to write the history of surrealist activities in Portugal. In Surrealism, Cesariny found the space for creative freedom he was looking for. Here it was by dream, imagination, love, based on the technique of psychic automatism and chance, without aesthetic or moral impositions. Everything is in keeping with his restless, controversial, subversive personality.
Main representative of Portuguese Surrealism, Mário Cesariny, at the beginning of his literary production, was influenced by Cesário Verde and by the Futurism of Álvaro de Campos, heteronym of Fernando Pessoa. Upon joining the Surrealist Group, he changed his style, bringing to his work the "absurd", the "unusual" and the "unbelievable". In addition to being a poet, novelist, essayist and playwright, he also dedicated himself to the visual arts , above all to painting, he translated life into writing and painting, languages he explored in the grammar of surrealism. Mário Cesariny is perhaps the most genuine militant of this movement in Portugal. He promoted the technique known as "strange corpse", which consisted in the elaboration of a work by a group of people, in a creative chain process, in which each one followed the creativity of the previous one, resulting in a kind of collage of words, from just an initial agreement on the sentence structure.
He collaborated in several periodicals such as Jornal de Letras e Artes and Cadernos do Meio-Dia, among others. He began by becoming interested in the neorealist movement - although this brief incursion did not go beyond an ironic and parodic posture, established by Nicolau Cansado Escritor - and, in 1947, he returned from Paris, where he attended the Academy of La Grande Chaumière and where he met André Breton, founding the Portuguese surrealist movement. His controversial stance in defense of authentic surrealism led him, however, to leave the group the following year, to create, with Pedro Oom and António Maria Lisboa, the dissident surrealist group. As one of the main critics and theorists of the surrealist movement, throughout his career he maintained numerous literary controversies, both against the detractors of surrealism and against those who, in literary practice, distorted it.
His poetic work began by reflecting, in Corpo Visível ou Discurso Sobre a Reabilitação do Real Quotidiano, the taste for ironic observation of urban reality which, echoing Cesário Verde, still constitutes a negligible phase in relation to volumes close to the practice. surrealist as Manual of Sleight of Hand. There, the biting and the absurd, the resort to the unusual, allied to a discursiveness that rarely embarks on a radical nonsense, as in the work of António Maria Lisboa, allow us to establish, like no other author of the 50s, a point of balance. between early modernism and the surrealist revolution.
Regarding your painting, it makes no sense to make a general theory. Like poetry, Cesariny's painting is spontaneous and subversive, marked by a somewhat magical and dreamlike dimension, with a predominance of color, disorder or chaos associated with the automatism and chance typical of surrealism. The use of "non-sense" and the absurd, so dear to the first avant-gardes, appear in his pictorial work, but also in objects and "assemblages", along with an aesthetic attitude of experimentation, through the use of less conventional methods. (collages, water paints) but which translate into a consistent plastic work. Defender and promoter of a surrealist movement in Portugal, Cesariny influenced several Portuguese artists, having seen his contribution to 20th century Portuguese art recognized with the award of the EDP 2002 Grand Prix.
In the field of theatre, in Um Auto Para Jerusalem, a pastiche of a short story by Luís Pacheco, he reveals the influence of Pirandello or Alfred Jarry's theatrical practice. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Mário de Cesariny began a work of restoring the historical truth of the surrealist movement, collecting its manifestos, editing the unpublished poetic work of some of its representatives, and printing his texts from the period of greater involvement with the theory and practice of surrealism, such as 19 Aldonso Ortigão Prize Projects followed by Poemas de Londres (1971), or Primavera Autónoma das Estradas (1980) or Titania (1977). In 2005, he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty, given by the then President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio, and, in November of that same year, he was awarded the Grande Prêmio Vida Literária, a tribute to his remarkable contribution to Portuguese literature. .
Of his extensive literary work, his work as an anthologist, compiler and (controversial) historian of surrealist activities in Portugal stands out, and his poetic work is also considered one of the richest and most complex contributions to the history of contemporary Portuguese poetry. A poetry first of intervention against the dominant poetics, in Portugal of the 1940s, through parody and sarcastic pastiche, a poetry of the failed attempt to rehabilitate everyday reality and then, above all, a poetry of crazy love, desired, lived or badly lived, abandoned or betrayed, sung or remembered and reinvented in an elegiac way.
For Cesariny, an open homosexual, love was "an inordinate desire for friendship", in which "the other is a mirror without which we don't see ourselves, we don't exist", and "the only thing there is to believe". ] the only contact we have with the sacred. The churches took the sacred and made it something very sad, if not cruel. Love is what we have left of the sacred", he defended. His work includes titles such as "Corpo Visível" (1950), "Manual de Prestidigitação" (1956), "Pena Capital", "Nobilíssima Visão" (1959), "Surrealist Anthology of the Esquisito Cadaver" (1961), " A Cidade Queimada" (with graphic arrangement and illustrations by Cruzeiro Seixas, 1965), "Burlesque, Theoretical and Sentimental" (1972), "Autonomous Spring on the Roads" (1980), "The Black Virgin. Fernando Pessoa Explained to National & Foreign Children by MCV" (1989) and "Titânia" (1994) ). About the sessions to which he was invited and in which he was applauded, the poet commented: "I am on a very high pedestal, they clap my hands and then they let me go home alone. This is Portuguese literary glory". In 2005, he received the only two distinctions of his career: the Grande Prêmio Vida Literária APE/CGD, for his work as a whole, and the Grand Cross of the Order of Liberty, which was presented to him by the then President of the Republic, Jorge Sampaio. In the last years of his life, he developed a frenetic activity of transformation and rehabilitation or "redemption" of everyday reality, from which many collages with paintings, objects, installations and other material fantasies were born. He died in 2006, at the age of 83, and his estate was donated to a foundation in Famalicão, where the council built a Center for the Study of Surrealism (CES).