A Cultural Institution Dedicated to Promoting Contemporary Art in Portugal and Beyond
Lisbon, Portugal – 14 Years’ Ago
A University Mathematics Professor with a taste for Fine Arts had the dream of creating a unique institution of artistic and cultural exchange: an art gallery, a movement, a place of gathering for artists, a school for the younger ones, a house of Portuguese Culture, a vibrant institution based on passion and action, meant to shake off the nostalgic drowsiness that still reigns over the land of the Fado. The name was chosen: The Movement for Contemporary Art. Like his fellow Portuguese conquistadors of the golden times of the Portuguese Discoveries, Álvaro Manuel Lobato de Faria Gomes (born on Nov. 30, 1943 in Castelo Branco, Portugal), set on the quest of discovering new artistic horizons and on raising higher than the blue skies of Lisbon the red and green of the Lusitanian flag.
Lisbon, Portugal – Nowadays
Spain, Finland, France, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Belgium, United States, Italy, Argentina, Cape Green, Guinea-Bissau… far-away countries, different cultures united in so many artistic events, cultural activities, exchanges…a dynamic force that is today, after 14 years, MAC.
On the day that the Movement for Contemporary Art celebrated 14 years of
activity, Niram Art Magazine talked to the founder, Mr. Álvaro Lobato de Faria about MAC’s spreading out beyond Portuguese soil and to the 2 newest members of his team, Mrs. Joana Paiva Gomes and the sculptress Andreia Pereira.
Mr. Álvaro Lobato de Faria, MAC has become known in Portugal as a cultural institution dedicated to promoting Portuguese arts in Portugal and in Portuguese-speaking countries. What are MAC’s main objectives outside Portugal?
Mr. Álvaro Lobato de Faria: I say many times that painters are like writers, they paint written images. Therefore, as a Portuguese I believe it is my duty to give support to Portuguese artists and to expand our art and our culture in the Portuguese–speaking countries. In partnership with The Society of the Portuguese Language we have undertaken many activities uniting the speaking word to the painted image, writers and artists, in all those countries where they speak Portuguese or where Portuguese is taught in the Universities. Outside this Portuguese- speaking territory, we collaborate with cultural institutions in Denmark, Finland, Belgium, France, New Zeeland, United States, where I have been often invited to give lectures in universities and cultural institutions. Of course, our main preference are the Portuguese-speaking countries, we have had many events and collaborations with all of them, especially Brazil.
As a dynamic artistic space MAC is also dedicating to discovering and promot- ing young talents and is involved in many pedagogical activities.
Mr. Álvaro Lobato de Faria: Yes, we are, but unfortunately I find that there is great lack of interest in the young students of Fine Arts in Portugal. I am always on the look for new talents and I speak to the people of the Faculty of Fine Arts often on this subject but the answer is the same: there is no enthusiasm, no interest. For instance, the sculptor Joao Duarte, a man of great initiatives, has tried to put together several activities within the Faculty but the students are not interested in anything. The Portuguese society is in a very negative phase right now.
This year, MAC counts with the help of two new members, Mrs. Joana Paiva Gomes has been appointed vice-president, following in her father’s footsteps with pride.
What are the projects that you are involved in within Mac and what does MAC mean for you?
Mrs. Joana Paiva Gomes: I have practically grown up within MAC, I have been involved in its activities since my teenage years but I have become an actual part of the team last year. I am not specialized in Fine Arts but the close contact with my father’s activities has sprouted within me the taste for arts and an artistic awareness. As I have pedagogical studies, the main objective of my work here is to turn more dynamic the pedagogical area of MAC, in order to develop the artistic sensibility in young people, to elaborate new strategies and to establish new contacts with cultural institutions in order to collaborate on the divulgation of arts and culture.
A young sculptress, Andreia Pereira, is MAC´s newest collaborator, bringing in all her flair and enthusiasm.
Mrs. Andreia Pereira, what is it that has drawn you to MAC?
Mrs. Andreia Pereira: As a student at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Lisbon, I started working at MAC as part of the academic curriculum and my initial duties were attending the public, helping to organize some events. However, Mr. Alvaro de Faria has gradually given me more autonomy and now I am engaged in all sorts of activities, mainly organization of events.
I was talking to Mr. Álvaro Lobato de Faria about MAC’s objective of expanding within the Portuguese-speaking countries…
Mrs. Andreia Pereira: Yes, indeed, this is the main objective of MAC. You see, MAC is much more than a commercial space, it is a cultural space determined to promote Portuguese well- established artists and to continuously search and offer support to new talents, to help promoting their art in the Portuguese-speaking countries and also to promote artists from the Portuguese-speaking countries in Portugal. Also, it constantly fights for the internationalization of arts.
You mean by collaborations and divulgation of artists in other countries?
Mrs. Andreia Pereira: Yes, of course, as I said, internationaliza- tion is one of the main objectives of MAC. We have ongoing projects in United States, New Zeeland and we are developing relations with European partners as well. Let’s say the world is our limit.
What can we expect from MAC next year?
Mrs. Andreia Pereira: Well, we have some surprises in store for you but it is too early to reveal them. Basically, we are planning a more diverse agenda. As we have 2 locations we have decided to dedicate one of them to more traditional artistic activities and to make the second one more dynamic, to make room for “alternative” artistic ways of expression.
Madrid, August 2008
“The world is our limit” said Mrs. Andreia Pereira and I
can`t seem to get her words out of my head.
Somehow I feel that in the city of the seven hills, looking down on the flowing of the blue river Tagus into the Ocean, in Europe’s most Western point, gazing in the strong light of the endless Portuguese sky, these words have probably been said before. And in times gone by, there must have been these words that gave the strength to the sailors of the caravels when they departed in search of the unknown.
Heroes of the sea, adventurers of the impossible, dreamers of the undreamable…
I have found out that your immortal heart still beats in Lisbon…