“Embrace of Diversity"
Embrace of Diversity asks: how is the Portuguese language negotiated in the art of its speaking countries? As curators, our role is to give voice and visibility to the cultural differences between artists while celebrating the fraternal character of today’s art. The fact that these communities share a common language enables us to find a sense of brotherhood. By inviting some of today’s most interesting artists, we render visible not only historical encounters that bind the Portuguese language in the world, but we also demonstrate how artists from different places meet in the preoccupations they convey. These similarities make visible artists’ active integration within international trends which show that art has become a privileged space of enquiry, penetrating several spheres of life (including national identity, tradition and ethnicity and their impact on society, religion and spirituality, as well as gender issues, and preoccupations of political, social and environmental nature).
Through the exhibition, we operate a displacement of the works’ origin from a single place and demonstrate their plural position. Angolan artists Keyezua and Ana Silva advance a feminist agenda; while Keyezua discusses the position of African women in today’s society, and thus elevates them to the position of rulers, Ana Silva recalls the complicity of intergenerational relations and ties in a context where a culture of conflict continues to cause prejudice to women today.
The notion of the decolonial which is regarded as a site of reparation, of the discovery of formerly silenced communities, and where cultural wealth is recovered, finds in contemporary artists serious interlocutors. The work of Nuno Nunes-Ferreira demonstrates how the Portuguese decolonial process went through different phases — from the difficult Goa, the violent Africa, the convoluted Timor-Leste to the serene Macau; Rita GT, aided by a group of local women, performs the desacralisation of a land marker in São Tomé; Gonçalo Mabunda’s childish and cute sculptures — which are made from guns — show how horror is present amidst delight, while Kwame Sousa’s large paintings perform deconstructive gestures that intend to valorise his community.
Each country has aspects of its quotidian that are celebrated by artists. This universal art thematic is equally one of the most diverse and vibrant. While making humous remarks, Ino Parada’s observation of life in Timor-Leste shows his love for the country; Kiki Lima and David Lima, two artists from Cape Verde, similarly capture light and movement recalling joyful and playful moments of life; the intimate world of Catarina Castel-Branco shows the gregarious attitude of the Portuguese, who adore several cultures; Abraão Vicente poetic work performs a redemption of traumatic behaviours and life stories; Fernanda Lago recalls the happy days of her childhood, while Nú Barreto’s art has developed an imaginative verve which he puts at the service of his personal narrative of contemporary Africa.
Other artists prefer to convey an imagined world, where fantasy reigns. This is the case of Sarah Ferreira who appropriates images from the popular culture to convey her wish for a more empathic world; Diogo Muñoz’s canvases, filled by heroes and cavaliers, are full of nostalgia and show today’s lack of courage; Isabel Nunes imagines the terrible consequences of natural disasters caused by human negligence while João Santa Rita thinks how Lisbon would look like if the earthquake of November 1, 1755 had not taken place.
Embrace of Diversity hopes that Macau SAR audiences welcome these generous and fruitful propositions with an open mind and a searching attitude.
Leonor Veiga and Cécile Bourne-Farrell