The Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine in Paris is holding an exhibition showcasing some of the best Portuguese architecture of the last five decades, in an attempt to discover a common ground based on a certain “universalism” – a conceptual condition already present in other fields of the Portuguese culture: literature, arts and cinema.
The exhibition, curated by architect and professor Nuno Grande, will be open from April 13 to August 29, 2016 organized by the Gulbenkian Foundation, which celebrates with this exhibition its 50th anniversary. Under the name of “Les universalistes. 50 ans d’architecture portugaise“, the exhibition will display works of renoned architects such as Fernando Távora, Álvaro Siza, Eduardo Souto de Moura, the Aires Mateus brothers and Joao Luis Carrilho da Graça, among many others.
“Les universalistes. 50 ans d’architecture portugaise”
April 13 – August 29, 2016
Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine
Palais de Chaillot – 1, place du Trocadéro,
Designed to mark the 50th anniversary (1965-2015) of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris, the exhibition “Les universalistes” provides a look at a half century of Portuguese thought and architectural production. Its aim is to promote an interdisciplinary discovery of Portuguese architecture as one of the markers of the cultural and social context of contemporary Portugal, also taking account of its inclusion in various global dynamics over the past five decades.
The exhibition affirms the existence of a particular “universalism” latent in the works of the best Portuguese architects of several generations. In an balance between the universal heritage of architectural history and the geographical and cultural constraints of the building site, the architects have had a consistent and critical fusion between what we now call ” global “and” local “.
This other universalism – distinct from the philosophical one, coined by the Enlightenment in the late eighteenth century-is the result of a continuous contact with the geography and culture of the ‘other’, based on travel, colonization, diaspora or migration, striking phenomena in the history of Portugal.
This condition both heterodox and heteronomous “to be myself and the other”, but also “to belong here and to the world” – was identified by several essayists in the fields of philosophy and literature as well as in arts, through the works of artists from different eras and generations.
In literature, writers Fernando Pessoa, Miguel Torga, Agostinho da Silva, José Saramago, Agustina Bessa Luís … are representative of this condition, as so are the artists Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (exposed to the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais), Almada Negreiros, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Paula Rego, Alberto Carneiro, Pedro Cabrita Reis … in the visual arts.
In cinema, the works of Manoel de Oliveira, Paulo Rocha, João César Monteiro, Pedro Costa, Miguel Gomes and João Salaviza also illustrate this universalism.
It remained, somehow, to conduct this research in the field of architecture. Through the work of renowned architects as Fernando Távora, Alberto Pessoa, Tainha Manual, Pancho Guedes, Nuno Teotónio Pereira, Nuno Portas, Álvaro Siza, Alcino Soutinho, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Joao Luis Carrilho da Graça, Manuel Graça Dias and some of the most promising designers of recent decades, such as Manuel and Francisco Aires Mateus, Paulo David, Paula Santos, João Mendes Ribeiro, Cristina Guedes and Francisco Vieira de Campos, the exhibition aims to bring together different architects in this (alter) universalism.
This classification does not refer to a stream at a school or style, but in particular ethics, a dialogue with the world that has allowed these different generations of architects to consider the universal as a “room without walls “- to remember the words of Miguel Torga, in 1989.
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is a Portuguese private institution of public utility whose statutory aims are in the fields of arts, charity, education and science. Created by a clause in Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian’s will, the Foundation’s statutes were approved in 1956.
At work for over 50 years, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation stands out as one of the most important of European foundations undertaking a vast range of activities both in Portugal and internationally and ranging from implementing its own projects, in partnership with other entities, or through the awarding of grants and subsidies. The Foundation runs delegations in Paris and London, the cities in which Calouste Gulbenkian lived.