After a somewhat problematic departure from Galeria Nasoni and Galeria Atlântica, I challenged myself to move into a tiny space in Rua da Restauração, and thus Canvas & Companhia was born.
Francisco agreed to be my partner, and the artists who took part in the first exhibition, which opened in April 1996, with drawings that were to be used in a project by Darocha in France, which never materialized, were Albuquerque, Gerardo and Tudela. Bernardo wrote a text he called “Constelações Afectivas” (“Affective Constellations”), this was an expression in which I recognized myself and often quoted throughout life. At the same time Chafes joined us, and later Brazilian artists began to arrive, bringing with them a very special freshness. Some saw Porto as the starting point for Spain and Europe. The first to arrive was Victor Arruda, and then Efrain – whose work Albuquerque and I had met at the Anna Maria Niemeyer Gallery in Rio, when we met there for the first time – Lygia Pape, the best gift Albuquerque gave me, Sandra and Albano, Nazareth Pacheco, Eliane Duarte, Vicente de Mello, Daniel Senise, and others.
Victor brought with him his provocative painting, which led to strange questions that Inês would ask when she saw them: “Mom, why does that man have breasts? And her mother would explain this and that to her…
I wouldn’t know who could write for the tiny catalog we were publishing at the time, but Albuquerque, as always, got it right. And Victor was moved when I read him, over the phone, the poem that Al Berto wrote using, with mastery, the titles of some of the paintings presented in the exhibition. Suburb; Shifting Sands; Highway between Two Tunnels; Jealousy; Imperfect Plan; On the Edge of the Abyss.
Bernardo Pinto de Almeida, Alexandre Melo, João Pinharanda, Eduardo Paz Barroso, João Miguel Fernandes Jorge, Márcio Doctors, Paulo Cunha e Silva, and Fátima Lambert, with their generosity, have always supported the gallery with the texts they wrote for the catalogs. Guilherme and Rui always took photos that registered those moments.
The arrival of the Brazilians was not well seen by many who, still imbued with a certain colonialist rancor, considered, clearly for lack of knowledge, that Brazil was only beer, samba, and soccer. They didn’t know that, while in Portugal, with rare exceptions, landscapes were being painted, Brazil was already many years ahead of us, creating Groups, which continue to be remarkable and influential.
Marcantonio Vilaça, who had very little time to do it, was beginning to undo that colonialist idea, and Lygia Pape only exhibited at the Gallery in 1999, putting Brazil at the tip of the iceberg.
Canvas was the first gallery to show Brazilian artists regularly, breaking the barrier that existed at the time.
Módulo Gallery had already shown Daniel Senise and Cravo Neto, and Galeria 111 had also shown one or another Brazilian artist. At that time we also managed to show Albuquerque Mendes, Pedro Tudela, João Galrão and Nuno Pontes in Brazil.
For me, the Canvas years were especially happy, coinciding with my participation in Jorge Costa’s Bossa Nova radio program on Rádio Nova and, as Paulo Reis wrote, mine was a “modernist house, a stone’s throw from Serralves, and the veritable Brazilian Embassy in Porto. The program included Brazilian artists who exhibited at Canvas, or artists or people connected to the visual arts who passed through town. This happened with Lygia Pape, who loved Brazilian music, Efrain, Eliana Pradilla, and even Varejão, who exhibited at Pedro Oliveira but stayed at the Pousada in Praça do Império, my home. Before going to the Studio, we would choose the records in my bookcase, and fly to the Pinhas da Foz to do what gave us so much pleasure.
It was also during the existence of Canvas that Paulo Reis, our Tupinambá Indian, who was not, who continued the work of linking Brazil/Portugal and who, with his untimely death, shook us all. He still knew the time when Brazil seemed to have ceased to be the “always postponed country”, but, to our disenchantment, it has not yet ceased to be.
Canvas, throughout its existence, participated in several Art Fairs, trying to promote the work of the artists with whom it worked. The gallery went to Arco, FAC in Lisbon, Forum of Matosinhos, Marca in Madeira, Atlantic Forum of A Coruña and to the Cologne Fair in Germany. In 2004 arose the possibility of forming a partnership with a gallery owner that worked part time in Lisbon, and a neo-collector industrialist from Oporto. The company that was created was an LLC, as great flights were predicted for Graça Brandão that was then born, beginning the fourth phase of my life as a mere art merchant. However, that is a whole other story…
José Mário Brandão
Outubro 10, 2022
Past Exhibitions, Past Exhibitions