Portugal is known for its love of ceramics, with colorful tiles creating awe-inspiring works of art and beautifying the interiors and exteriors of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools and even railway stations across the country. .

To celebrate Portugal’s ‘Azulejo’, or the shape of Portuguese tin painted and glazed ceramic tiles, the Museu Nacional do Azulejo (MNAz) in Lisbon is temporarily hosting an exhibition of modern and contemporary ceramics by female artists.

Called “Unknown Territories: Women’s Creativity in Modern and Contemporary Portuguese Ceramics (1950-2020)”, the exhibition will bring together pieces from the museum and public and private collections, from tiling to three-dimensional pieces, designed and / or executed by women who have distinguished themselves in this field over the past 70 years.

The exhibition will inaugurate not only the pieces but also the sensitivity and the life circumstances of the artists, some of whom have remained in the shadows because they were producing in a time of dictatorship and great inequality between the sexes.

“With this exhibition we intend to show the role of women in contemporary Portuguese ceramics. It is very vaguely known, there are two or three known names but we wanted to show that it is a much larger universe”, revealed Alexandre Pais, director. of the National Tile Museum (MNAz).

The exhibition includes works by Maria Keil, Vieira da Silva, Graça Morais and Joana Vasconcelos, among other artists working on tiles and ceramics.

The work developed by these women “is in the shadow of the masters and male companions who have collaborated with them, or is simply relegated to secondary level”, indicates a text on the framework of the exhibition.

“Even today, although on a smaller scale, there is an appreciation for projects designed by male artists, despite the growing influence and recognition of work done by women,” he continued. .

The objective of this exhibition and of the team assembled by the museum for this project is to change this situation, “to give visibility and importance to a devalued and forgotten heritage, but which is known to be important, of unsuspected quality and extent “.

The project fell within the framework of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, within the framework of one of its main vectors, the “promotion of women artists, gender equality”, initially planned for the summer, but postponed to December. 14 due to the pandemic.

All the pieces are on display in the halls of the former Madre de Deus convent, and although seven decades in the history of ceramics may seem short, they were particularly creative and innovative decades, according to visual artist Catarina Almada Negreiros. .

“The ‘Presente’ panel which has already existed for 10 years but had never been exhibited uses a kinetic tile, which is a tile that has this chameleon side where it is the observer who triggers the images,” he said. she explains.

Unknown territories: the creativity of women in modern and contemporary Portuguese ceramics (1950-2020)‘will take place in Lisbon from December to June 2022.


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