segunda-feira, 8 de junho de 2020

JAN DOČEKAL | A small essay dictated by respect and admiration

I studied the history of art at a time when state ideology in our country did not want free artistic expression. Surrealism has had a revolution in spirit since its inception. But this was not the revolution that the strangely Marxist political party demanded from the government in strong spiritual blindness. At university, however, we heard about surrealism that it does not depict the reality of the life of today's working person. This topic was at the forefront of socialist realism at the time. Surrealism really had nothing to do with it. At that time, students formally acquired knowledge of only a few names – Toyen, Jindřich Štýrský, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Joan Miró, René Magritte.

I was lucky. I was a younger friend with the poet and surrealist Ladislav Novák. He gave me much more information. Although his private mail was ideologically monitored by the secret police, he still had active contacts with foreign artists. He received art books and exhibition catalogs from them. He gave me J. H. Matthews: The Imagery of Surrealism (1977, USA). It was a source of information for me that I could not find in any source legally available in the Czech Republic. Looking at the book today, I look in vain at the name Cruzeiro Seixas. His absence certainly had no ideological reason. It is only a mirror of the author's observation of only what the history of art at the time, a look at surrealism at the time, called important. Not a word about Portugal. Seixas is not mentioned in Desmond Morris's stimulating book The Lives of Surrealists (published in Czech in 2018). For what reason? Did he come to surrealism late? Have all important positions already been filled? Are you standing aside? Perhaps the minimal consolation may be the knowledge that in art everything is always purely subjective.
I discovered the name Cruzeiro Seixas with a long delay. It happened in 2006. Curator Lubomír Kerndl, in collaboration with Arnošt Budík, a Czech exile in Brussels, a surrealist poet and artist, opened a gallery called Devil's Tail in a former water mill. Arnošt Budík's lively contacts with surrealists in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, England, Costa Rica, Chile and other countries made it possible to borrow a large collection of works of contemporary surrealism. After a tour of the exhibition, many supporters of Surrealism said that they had experienced an exceptional art festival.
At the same time, a selection of works by members of the Czech group Stir up with works by foreign artists was presented. Among the exhibitors, I saw for the first time the formally pure works of Cruzier Xeixas. Magically attractive, based on reality, but transforming it into a new beauty by psychic automatism. That's when I realized how very negative is the consequence of a lack of education on a topic in contemporary art abroad. It does not matter whether the cause is a lack of funds or insufficient education of professionals in galleries, museums, book publishers and government officials of culture. Until the spring of 2006, until the opening of the Devil's Tail Gallery, nothing about the Portuguese Seixas was provided to the Czech art fan. No work of art (not even in reproduction), no mention in professional literature, no poem translated into Czech. It should be emphasized here that in 2006 it was already sixteen years since the Velvet Revolution, since the end of the physical and spiritual lack of freedom in Czechoslovakia. Yes, now it is not right to want everything to change for the better immediately. The silence around Seixas in the Czech Republic, perhaps untargeted, but certainly without the ambition of education, unfortunately continues in the year of the artist's centenary of birth. The only exceptions are the activities of the Devil's Tail Gallery and the Stir up group.
In 2013, in close coordination with Arnošt Budík, an international surrealist exhibition entitled All We Are Created of Love was created. The collection with the accompanying catalog was gradually exhibited in a number of museums and galleries in the Czech Republic. It also contained excerpts from Cruzeiro Seixas‘ artwork. The inclusion of my small collages in the neighborhood of Cruzeiro Seixas was a huge satisfaction for me.

 Arnošt Budík said in one of the interviews for the Czech press that the emergence of surrealism in Portugal dates back to 1948. José Augusto Franca then initiated the publication of a magazine entitled Cahiers surréalistes. Cruzeiro Seixas participated in the activities of surrealists in Lisbon in 1948 and again two years later with Mario Cesariny, António Maria Lisboa, Maria Henrique Leiria, Pedro Oom, Risques Pereira, Fernando Alves dos Santos, Carlos Eurico da Costa, Carlos Calvet and Antóni Paulo Tomasem. In January 1949 Franca organized the first exhibition of Portuguese surrealism. However, the artistic group around the named revue was disparate. Only two strong individuals – Mario Cesariny Vasconcelos and Cruzeiro Seixas – crossed the Portuguese framework. Through the authenticity of their work, they came to collaborate with the Parisian group André Breton and with the international movement Phases.
The following year, Seixas left for Africa, where he organized exhibitions that influenced local society. He returned to Portugal in 1964. He entered the contemporary art scene as an educated convinced surrealist. Over the next five and a half decades, he spread his name in the field of poetry and fine arts. Numerous books are published about his work. Seixas is a figure of surrealism also far beyond the border Portugal. He exhibits at group exhibitions in Paris, Brazil, Brussels, Chicago, London, Madrid, Germany and Mexico. The world knows about him. He is an acclaimed artist. His work has a firm place in the history and presence of Surrealism.
In 1999, he generously donated his entire art collection to the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation for the purpose of building the Surrealism Study Center and the Museum of
Surrealism. Seixas is considered in artistic circles to be a high-profile figure in European culture, an exceptional figure in the spirit of the 20th century. And it doesn't end there. He continues to send clear signals of his respectful creativity. Let us look for the great Seixas format, his breadth of scope, his fruitful fulfillment of such an extremely long stage of European history.
In his book The Imagery of Surrealism recalls Matthews
under the caption Batailles pour le surréalisme, the words of the French theorist Jean Schuster that surrealism is an effort to dispel the fog brought by confusion of mind. It is a demand to open up a world that is afraid of complexity, with the only key. However, in all his surrealist work, Seixas reflects a clear possibility of achieving complexity: Yes, the only key – surrealism. Surrealists certainly agree with Breton that reality should be treated confidentially only if and there it can be seen to help mark the way to the unknown. Surrealism takes power from chance, identified with some form of artistic expression based on purely realistic principles.
Thus, surrealism is fully capable of ironically overturning the most common reality. Probably here too. Attempts by art theorists to assess which contemporary artist can be considered a surrealist and which cannot be still taking place in various parts of cultural Europe. Personally, I am convinced that according to the Breton principles, it is not possible today to consider anyone as a surrealist. The world is changing. Those who claim that surrealism is an art movement long ago may be right. The original surrealism to which we admire its revolutionary intransigence, its anti-clericalism and its stance against the establishment. However, there are cohorts of new surrealists, artists with an overflowing imagery of the soul and the power of dream experience.
I‘m bold. I would like to send a heartfelt greeting to Portugal full of respect and admiration for your great contemporary Cruzeiro Seixas.


Agulha Revista de Cultura
Número 152 | Abril de 2020
Artista convidado: Cruzeiro Seixas (Portugal, 1920)
editor geral | FLORIANO MARTINS |
editor assistente | MÁRCIO SIMÕES |
logo & design | FLORIANO MARTINS
revisão de textos & difusão | FLORIANO MARTINS | MÁRCIO SIMÕES
ARC Edições © 2020

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