Visual Arts

Nem mais nem menos (Adoro a Arte) 

— exhibition by Artur Varela

30.11 — 16.03.24
Galeria Zé dos Bois

30.11.2023 — 18:00

30.11.2023 — 16.03.2024
Monday to Saturday
18:00 — 22:00


At the end of the 18th century, Francisco de Goya launched the first edition of Los Caprichos, a satirical series of eighty aquatint etchings that criticised aspects of Spanish society, sparing no institution or social class. One of the most celebrated plates, entitled Ni mas ni menos (Neither more no less), depicted a portrait painter and a model, both caricatured as animals: the monkey in the role of court painter, mischievous by nature, and the donkey, symbolising the aristocratic class. Goya’s allegory reminds us of the main character in this exhibition, Artur Varela’s hero, The Donkey.

For those who don’t know Artur Varela (1937-2017), he may yet be the last of the artists to be revisited of the famous Alternativa Zero, a multidimensional and seminal exhibition of contemporary Portuguese art subsequent to the 25th April Revolution, organised by the equally famous Ernesto de Sousa.

Artur, born in Almodovar, enrolled in the Lisbon School of Fine Arts and on the day he completed his degree in 1963, escaped to Paris and later to Holland, the country that naturalized “van der Hella”, prize-winning sculptor. Ten years later, he returned to Portugal, but it wasn’t until the end of the 1980s that he washed ashore in Portugal for good.

The adoration to art of the infamous Artur Varela at the Zé dos Bois Gallery will have two moments.

The first moment centres on the artist’s corrosive and caricatural relationship with this little land of mild manners. Artur’s humour is a rapacious conceptual operation that appropriates art to do neither more nor less than topple any structure of power whatsoever.

He spits on the Portuguese petite bourgeoisie, the pious old ladies and paedophile priests, petty-minded power, the miracle of the State and the Church, the masturbations of imperialism and the snotty legacy of the tragic-maritime enterprise…

In the second part of this exhibition, we celebrate Varela’s distrust of the art world’s royal courtiers, of which we may or may not be a part. An irony we welcome with bared teeth.

Lisbon, 30 November 2023

Friends of Artur

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