"The accumulation of folders and drawing pads, records of experiences (so many!) awoke in me the need for a dispassionate reflection on what their fate should be.
Distance in time and space allowed me to judge the consistency of material in the light of a course that befell me by obscure laws – and I felt no “pain” at destroying a large number of these drawings; the old muffle in the studio would bear witness to this had it been able to speak....
I was relieved to observe that as soon as the hesitations along the way were eliminated, that course, that started in the 1930s and covered 60 years, and whose main Expressionist characteristic necessarily matched my own nature as a man, would become clearer.I confess that in my mind there was a desire to maintain the integrity of the collection and that would be enough for me. My friends did not agree; they argued that this material could set an example, amongst many others, perhaps worthier, and they would find a way, and a space, for it. Hence the creation of “Lugar do Desenho” and the Foundation with that institutional weight that has always been alien to me. However, if “Lugar do Desenho” corresponds to the aims I have always striven towards, so be it! Let Drawing be understood in its widest sense and not simply restricted to the Plastic Arts but to all creative attitudes of Man. It is not the monopoly of a particular time or a society. Drawing is the expression of a consciousness that distinguishes it "
"... But, actually, I wanted to be a painter!
Maybe fate offered me the first step. Aurora Jardim, a known figure in literary and journalism circles in Oporto, spoke to the painter Alberto Silva who, in turn, negotiated with the Silva Porto Academy so that I could attend painting lessons there.
I bought my first “serious” box of paints, and learned how to mix them on the palette, according to the rules."
"... At school, during classes, I would await with great anticipation the critical opinion of Master Dórdio, the possible referential “bridge” with what we understood as our geographical boundaries... A nonconformist movement was taking shape among us, comrades, against the passivity of the town. It was to oppose this situation that the idea of forming the “Group of Independents” arose. “Independent” in stylistic attitude; “dependent” in terms of a commitment that would turn into the awakening of the collective awareness of reality."
"... Maestro Dórdio Gomes headed the “National Fine Arts Academy Aesthetic Mission”, which was held in Évora. Some of the members of the “Independents” met there."
"... In the middle of winter, particularly harsh this year, I began my acquaintance with Paris, looking for every opportunity for revelation. In order to understand the teaching methods and, above all, to evaluate kinds of critical analysis, I attended the School of Fine Arts and the Grande Chaumière Academy."
"One morning, in a heavy snowfall, I went to the window of my room in a small hotel overlooking a cemetery, and saw an old woman trudging through the whiteness of the snow.
She was just a silhouette of pain held up by two filaments ending in huge boots. Without wasting any time, I rushed to the studio of Pierre Dubois, and did this painting in a breath."
It was a pivotal period in the life of the artist, fitting in an ever timely way into the educational aim that is a relevant historical constant in a post-War period in which France and the World were seeking to re-establish Peace. The painter Júlio Resende had finished the course at the Fine Arts School in Oporto, and was making his first contacts with the theories and practices of the aesthetics resulting from the movements at the end of the 19th Century and beginning of the 20th, of which Paris was the cultural centre.
History and Society have a duty to speak about the past. The works exhibited here had a specific context in my career and they should be analysed in that context. Various limitations, in particular those resulting from the political regime and world conflict, not to speak of the vaunted loneliness of a country enclosed in specific geographical conditions, would explain the cultural anachronism of the environment, often taking refuge in an outmoded mythology.
One of the works, dating from the 1930s, marks a passage along this path through the desert of ideas and unawareness of the real world beyond our borders. For me, this exhibition shows how much life has evolved in six decades.
Short of another, it will at least have this merit.
Drawing in two times.
Júlio Resende – the years 1940/90
In confession mode
The object of my search? Perhaps the reconciliation of two things apparently irreconcilable.
To discover the form that suits "feeling" and "reflection".
The truth is that the analysts claim that my work reveals a lyrical expressionism. The person who first said that was a Flemish crític, 36 years ago.
If the expressionism in me is not deliberate, maybe the lyricism occurs for reasons underlying a whole people, viewed as submerged in the Atlantic mists, as seems to be the case for Portugal.
That’s probably it.
Ambivalence in feeling and reflecting, is certainly to blame for many hesitations along the way, but it is really justifiable in creative research that is based on a desire for authenticity which I have never moved away from, and do not relinquish now.
The proof is in the fact that I missed out on neo-realism (1940s), abstractionism (1947/48) and all others “isms”, not arrogantly, but always faithful to the feeling and aesthetic thinking that were born with me.
I accept, therefore, to be placed in the "Index" of a contemporaneity marked by the lack of definition of “ephemeral”, “minimalist” things, even if credible, and even by all the resulting humbug of consumerism. I also accept the aesthetic testimony of this contemporaneity, despite its vertigo making it difficult to establish time boundaries. Would a week not be enough for the contemporaneous to cease being so?
The History of Art analyst will respond later.
It is very clear that I do not speculate with painting, although I accept and can understand that others do.
I am only a plastic painter.
The Drawing on the Wall
The role of the plastic artist in society is largely understandable and requires no justification. In an urban space its function is to enhance rather than intervene. Something felt rather than seen. A sufficiently encompassing feeling in the overall space which remains latent throughout time. Thus, it seems that one should require from the artist the humility to acknowledge the right moment to participate in the movement outside his studio, indeed the space of experimentation.
The painter, should he really be the one operating through the plastic medium (…), requires a physical support, its nature and sturdiness depending on the characteristics of the place.
The wall has always been for me a kind of obsession, especially since 1947 when, for the first time, I travelled through Italy. Then, on my return to Paris, Duco de La Haix taught me the potential of "mortier", “discharging” me so I myself could erect a wall for fresco painting. Everything has a story and mine comes from afar and is marked by a commitment to murals. Not always straightforward, I recognise that. Over the long period of 50 years between the first and the last mural, the world was shaken up, the winds blew strong and men degraded themselves endlessly. The signs of art have not gone unheeded by them.
How to understand straightforwardness in this so-called evolutional sense? However, the decoration of a mural is always a consequential reference of a time, like the Berlin wall, or of a faith, like the Wailing Wall. A wall in itself always has a meaning, either physical or psychological. The former remains a reality, the latter is submissive, not because it is sidelined, as it is part of a unity resulting from both realities.
The mural artist faces many questions of a technical, aesthetic, functional and other nature. My purpose over this period of time was to answer them, a purpose to serve a society deeply enslaved to the hands of the clock, to traffic jams and to the anguish of having lost the meaning of life. In my view, mural art, rather than emphasising the status quo that numbs society should, on the contrary, awaken it by the new harmony that is the responsibility of today’s artist to find.
The drawing on the wall.
The Face of the Sea
The works collected together under the title "The Face of the Sea" resulted entirely from a direct contact with those whose life depends on such imponderable factors: such is the struggle of the Sea.
Expressions, gestures and faces shaped by the unbroken waves. Of course! What I am showing are not doctoral theses (!...), but simply recordings (and some of their developments), in the unique circumstances of convergence that facilitates them. They are, after all, mostly drawings that seek a truth conforming to my feelings. They date from different times. Another aspect that I believe the exhibition shows is the contribution of the geo-human situation to the expressiveness of drawing. The Atlantic was, in a way, the great accomplice of my small, yet enormous, adventure! From the northern Portuguese coast to the north-eastern shores of Brazil, passing through the islands of Cape Verde, the same Atlantic. Only the men are different because the expressions, the gestures and the faces are different! The awareness of this difference is always an invaluable challenge for feeling alive!... A drawing made in Póvoa de Varzim bears an emotional charge of a very different nature from another made on some Pernambuco shore.
Even though this is just an aspect of a much wider issue, maybe it is enough to highlight the importance that I give to emotion in the act of drawing.
The face of the sea.
Drawing at the Time of Dance and Theatre Illustration
I do not conceal the paths that life has so often made me tread.
They are part of a long journey and rightly make sense of it.
From the publicity drawings of the 1930s to the tile panels of "Sete Rios" spans a long bridge...
From one bank, already lost in the mist, to another that is awaited… The world, like Art, develops at a maddening pace.
So long as man is not lost, all is well.
This exhibition is thus a “presence” from the past. I only wonder what interest it may arouse in the vortex of modern time.
From comic strips to illustration and costumes, one foot here and one foot there, from Dyas to the Resendes, maybe I lost my bearings!...
This is a doubt, amongst many others, that will always be with me, though I keep a smile on my face that explains the two small lines on it.
1949, People of the sea.
Recurrent Watercolour 1946//1989
Watercolour was Resende’s favourite technique during his various travels, mainly in the 1940s and ‘50s, and it regained its importance in the 1980s when the author became a strong admirer of the Black Forest and the northeast of Brazil.
Some of these works and many others of mixed technique, originals of which many have never before been displayed in public, belong to the Lugar do Desenho collection, and the moment has come to show them, in accordance with the foundation’s statutes.
Dating from different times, the exhibition will help the viewer to see and reflect on the evolution of the painter, an analysis that will offer periodic cultural conclusions, one of our constant objectives.
The Flight of the Palette
A significant number of works by Júlio Resende have been born out of the painter’s many travels, on which he encountered reasons for constant evolution in terms of structural space and means. In his understanding, these works are records, and it is as such that they should be perceived. The experience of the senses corresponds to the instantaneity of gesture. Amassing these works under the title “Flight of the Palette”, the geographical reason behind them becomes immediately clear, as well as the emphasis the author gives to the manifold factors from which he departed and, above all, the diversity of sources of tropical culture: Continental Africa and the African Islands, South America and Asia.
Beside others, this seems a subject to arouse not only the viewer’s sensitivity but also his thinking. It has indeed been a rule of these exhibitions to provide didactic materials supplied by the author to accompany the original work, which we include in this edition. (…)
The flight of the palette.
Gazing on the Immediate
"Do you know what will happen to you as you practise pen and ink drawing? You will become more clever, practical and able to draw a lot inside your head."
The material exhibited should not be regarded as the product of a thesis, a final result of reflexive/emotional understanding. As a principle, it is material safeguarded by its own “intimacy” which few would agree to reveal.
The title of the exhibition, “Gazing on the Immediate”, explains from the outset the instability pertaining to the record and the emotion put in it.
The movement of the tool translates the feeling of experienced vision, though expectant and unique, given credibility by the cortex but respectful of the thalamus. Drawing thus becomes a reliable testimony to a vital experience of the being at a given moment.
This exhibition comprises many of these experiences, some of which were fleetingly recorded but no less relevant for it in my life. I recall Turner, acknowledging that many of his late watercolours were sketched in a very schematic drawing to be watercoloured later. His capacity for emotional memory would respond to the particular chromatic solutions in question.
By showing these works in an attitude of apparent indiscretion, I will make myself known, not as an example, as a model… I am just one amongst many!
Gazing on the immediate.
Woman and Drawing
"A considerable part of the work of Júlio Resende has an insistent motivation in the female figure, not only isolated, but inserted in groups in subordination to the compositional structure.
During the course of a decades-long career, the painter’s expressionism rarely submits to viewing in woman the fragile ornamental figure of conventional beauty, rather the contrary, in her silhouettes, she radiates an earthy image, a vital essence that ennobles her.
This path is one of the reasons for this exhibition, taking the viewer to diverse places, from the Oporto riverfront to the Atlantic shore.(...)"
Woman and drawing.
I dare state that in art, technique goes unnoticed. Lest I am misunderstood, I shall add that all statements are valid in themselves, and this also means that I do not belittle the ability to externalise this statement.
Technique is a means of …
For some reason, I find myself resistant to the exhibitionist techniques of a Paganini, although he is recognised as having been the greatest of virtuosi.
In principle, the painter has no violin, but rather various methods that require as many techniques, which he uses according to circumstance. Watercolour, pastel, gouache, pencil, China ink, etc, are “quick” techniques that I use in my frequent ramblings. I rarely used photography, believing that the use of a pad of paper would bring advantages to emotional annotation.
Other techniques, let’s call them “studio” techniques, such as engraving, monotype, collage, mixed technique, form the reference link to oil, acrylic techniques, etc. It is easily perceived that the former result from what I call in loco experience, while the latter are subject to a state of mind.
They all have variable relevance according to the aesthetic profile of the technician, and can even be considered useless for their association with other creative proposals such as those that are based on a performance project. So it should be said that these are the works that are part of the collection exhibition. It will be up to the visitor to make the small effort of telling them apart in terms of the purposes that generated them. Let it be once more stated that they are not conclusive works but rather personal records, fragments which in the circumstances were grouped here for the overall understanding of a whole.
I was moved by no other purpose, when exposing these bits of paper, humble physical presences, than to account for a life of searching, through the dim mists of doubt, with the hope of glimpsing a light that might correspond to the supreme objective of my painter’s conscience.
This search will make no sense without being shared as a brotherly sign of a hopefully universal Harmony.
A House in Korntal
Family circumstances meant frequent stays in Korntal, a few kilometres from Stuttgart, where my daughter Marta and my only grandson Daniel live. Korntal is a word derived from two others, which means “Valley of Wheat”, and explains the nature of the place in topographical terms. In fact, from Stuttgart to Korntal, we can imagine continuous forest surrounding the Solitude Palace without any difficulty. The forest, of which Germany is proud, is maintained with natural discipline by all who accept and defend it. Korntal, therefore, is a small urban zone which is almost disguised in the landscape since the buildings do not extend beyond the houses surrounded by gardens carefully tended with visible pride by their owners at weekends. The small town obeys the rules of social composure of a class linked to the automobile industry.
But Korntal stands out socially for another reason: a “sect” with a moral ideology and “pietist” religion had its base there for many years, which still today is reflected in the collective behaviour of the residents.
In one of my stays, as I walked along the immaculately tidy streets, I inadvertently dropped a scarf.
The following day, when I noticed it was missing and took the same course, I found it carefully folded and placed on a low garden wall. This is Korntal.
This is where Marta’s house is, where Daniel is growing up. My memories are naturally in the company of my grandson to whom I taught the first Portuguese words and who, as he grew up, walked with me to the forest, making his small watercolours.
It is normal for the private gardens to have no walls to stop passers-by seeing in, and the owners relish their gardening. Although with the passing of time, Marta has become part of this social scene, her garden is not exactly like the rest.
Perhaps it is such a subtle matter it is impossible to explain.
My expressionist temperament, as if "pacified" by the scenery of this house, accepted an “intimacy” I am not used to. The atmosphere of a harmony of images and sounds, not only captured at first hand, but emanating from the surroundings, proved propitious to recording these notes.
A house in Korntal.
A river that is left to die amongst us
Far from wishing to speculate on a matter of such obscure reflection as the fate of living things, it is true that the title found to group the works in this exhibition lent itself to my perception of the possible analogy of the character of a river and that of man. "A river that is left to die amongst us" deserves every risk.
A river without a history is just a watercourse in the hydrographic scheme of the earth’s crust.
Unlike most, perhaps, the River Douro experienced in geological adversity the traits that made it the scene of epic memories, but also of others more soothing such as a requirement of what is vital. In the fearsome terraced layout, man turned the rock into the womb of miracles for sustenance and breathtaking works of art. As it ends its laborious course the Douro reflects on its banks a ravishing beauty that recalls in us the final chord of a Mahler symphony.
A feeling of involvement dominates the powers of absorption, making us a part of a whole.
The river, like a body, reacts to the physical confrontations of a vital space. To the average observer, this contemplation will be devoid of significance.
Painting is not an entertainment. It results from the intent to respond to a kind of provocation of a phenomenon. The response is at the risk of the painter, who recognises in advance that this response will not be entirely satisfactory.
A river that is left.