The exhibition Pessoa. All Art Is a Form of Literature takes its title from a quote by Álvaro de Campos, one of the most avant-garde heteronyms created by Fernando Pessoa (Lisbon, 1888–1935), and published in the influential Portuguese magazine presença.
The prolific output of texts across one hundred plus heteronyms saw Pessoa forge his own avant-garde to become a peerless writer on the crisis of the modern subject and its convictions, transposing his work into a many-sided otherness akin to his own existential disorientation.
Paulism, Intersectionism, Sensacionism are just some of the terms coined by the poet in his scores of texts, and underpin the idiosyncrasies of Portuguese modernity. This exhibition, therefore, draws on these isms to put in place a visual account of the Portuguese scene, bringing together a selection of works by figures such as José de Almada Negreiros, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso, Eduardo Viana, Sarah Affonso and Júlio, among others, to focus on the first aesthetic currents in Portugal from the turn of the 20th century to 1935. These currents acknowledged the inevitable influence of predominant trends in Europe, whilst also attempting to create some kind of distance. In his different writings, Pessoa was mindful of the particular place these isms held in his creations, as well as their distinguishing features with overt allusions inside a European context, for instance the differences between Futurism and Intersectionism. A number of these works reflect a penchant for the popular and Portuguese idiosyncrasy, which runs clearly through the work of Portuguese artists who travelled to Paris, and the foreigners who spent time on Portuguese shores, for instance Sonia and Robert Delaunay.
The show also broadly features magazines published from this period — among the pages of which some of Pessoa’s writings appeared — for instance A Águia, Orpheu, K4 O Quadrado Azul, Portugal Futurista and presença, which acted as a sounding board for avant-garde ideas and were a major aesthetic and ideological influence on the Portuguese intelligentsia in the first half of the 20th century.
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