Portuguese museum exhibits women’s contribution to ceramics

Portugal is known for its love of ceramics, with colorful tiles creating impressive works of art and embellishing the interiors and exteriors of churches, palaces, ordinary homes, schools and even train stations across the country. country.

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

Entitled “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 tiles 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 living conditions of the artists, some kept in the shadows because they were produced at 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 in tiles and ceramics.

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

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

The objective of this exhibition and of the team brought together by the museum for this project is to change this situation, “to give visibility and importance to a devalued and forgotten heritage, but which we know is important. , of quality and of an unsuspected scale”.

The project was part of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, within the framework of one of its main vectors, the “valorization of women artists, equality between women and men”, initially planned for the summer , but postponed to December 14 due to the pandemic.

All the pieces are on display in the corridors 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 in fact already existed for 10 years but which had never been exhibited uses the kinetic tile, which is a tile which has this chameleon side where it is the observer who triggers the images”, has she explained.

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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