Monday, 12 May 2014

This time, for a change…

...Touching Art was invited to the opening of a solo exhibition by Portuguese painter Alexandre Magalhães. Held on May 1, 2014, at Ericeira, a small beautiful fishing village a few kilometres north of Lisbon, we couldn’t miss this opportunity to offer you something different and to introduce a Portuguese artist.

Alexandre Magalhães, born in Lamego, a small town in the north of Portugal, and living in Ericeira, is a retired colonel who has dedicated his time to his favourite activity: painting. A self-taught painter, he started painting in 1995 having first tried his skills at watercolours. About ten years ago, however, he resorted to oil paint on linen canvas and a palette-knife. Since then, he has exclusively been using these materials and perfecting his technique through a long and patient process of experimenting, which gives him the pleasure of challenging his own limits, skills and talent.

The result is a body of paintings in which his experiments are reflected in stronger, more assertive works, all of them figurative. Alexandre Magalhães mainly depicts landscapes and cityscapes from Portugal, though some of his creations also result from trips he has made to places such as Cape Verde or Angola. He has works in private national and foreign collections.

Besides some collective events, Alexandre Magalhães has regularly been showing his work over the last few years in solo exhibitions held in the little village where he lives, which attract a body of faithful admirers. The opening of this solo exhibition in the pleasant venue of the local Tourism Board gathered a significant number of visitors, who could appreciate the artist’s latest productions to the sound of a violin player, in a room flooded by light, whose wooden roof evoked the hull of a ship – a feature so dear and so typical of the Portuguese culture, which made even more sense in a fishing village.

We had the opportunity of exchanging a few words with Alexandre Magalhães and it was with great pleasure that we listened to his statement about his being particularly keen on having viewers touching his works and feeling the deep texture of his oil on canvas. Unusual as this situation is, it naturally struck us and prompted the inevitable question about the reasons for this attitude, so rare to see in such circumstances. Magalhães explained that he actually likes to have viewers not only enjoying gazing and admiring his creations, but he further finds it important to let them feel the texture of his works, since he considers this to be one of the relevant features of his painting.

Alexandre Magalhães also mentioned that, in his view, oil painting is meant to be touched, as it has a volume which is intrinsic to these art works. We were only too thrilled to have been invited to touch and feel the voluptuousness of the oil, an experience which only added to the sensation of looking at the paintings.

All in all, this was an event which offered several unexpected aspects which were significant for us. On the one hand, it gave us the opportunity of doing something in loco and, therefore, offering our readers a different experience. On the other hand, this was a pleasant pretext to introduce an unknown Portuguese painter and show Portuguese locations. Finally, it was a paramount experience to have been invited to actually use the sense of touch to fully appreciate art works, as we always have endorsed.

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