Tuesday, 21 July 2015

A Moving Tribute

Vhils's awesome depiction of Amália Rodrigues’ face made with black and white cobblestones is a moving tribute now enhancing the beauty of one of Lisbon’s most typical areas.

When something really sad happens, a Portuguese saying states that “it gets tears flowing from cobblestones on the pavement”.  It makes sense to refer to this since our feature today focuses on a beautiful artwork made of cobblestone and created to pay a tribute to the greatest Portuguese “fado” singer, Amália Rodrigues (July 1, 1920 – October 6, 1999).

“Fado” being a genuinely and unique Portuguese musical expression whose themes are generally very sad feelings, it owes its international acknowledgement precisely to Amália Rodrigues, who played a key role in making it famous worldwide and who became an inspiration to younger generations of music artists.

Alexandre Farto, also a Portuguese artist commonly known as Vhils and internationally renowned for his street art works, designed a stunning depiction of Amália’s face, which was meant to be crafted in the typically Portuguese cobblestone work made of basalt and limestone which decorates most of Lisbon’s sidewalks.

This, therefore, was meant to pay a two-fold homage. On the one hand, it is a tribute to Amália’s talent and uniqueness; on the other hand, Vhils wanted to draw attention to the artistry of Lisbon’s cobblestone workers, probably the world’s first true street artists, with whom he worked closely to achieve this awesome and uncommon portrait.

The result of this three-month committed joint venture between Vhils and Lisbon cobblestone layers, combining innovation and tradition, is a stunning and dramatic likeness of Amália’s face, rising from the floor and climbing up a wall like a wave. Located in a small public square in one of the most typical areas in the town – Alfama – where “fado” is still an everyday presence in the lives of people, this unexpected artwork surprises passers-by for its dramatic and moving beauty.

Since it is available for all to enjoy it in a public space, which is, moreover, located in a particularly emblematic area of Lisbon, this work is meant to grow old and fade with time, as all other art works created by Vhils. On the other hand, all those passing by it, Portuguese or visiting foreigners, will be able to seize its intensity and feeling and identify with this amazing work of art.

Vhils’s portrait of Amália, unveiled on July 2nd last, will be featured as the cover photo of an album to be released with Amália’s greatest hits performed by “fado” singers belonging to the youngest generation.

In fact, we may say that, on a rainy day, “tears will be flowing down the cobblestones “of Amália’s eyes.

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