Manuel Pereira da Silva was extremely methodical in arranging his day-to-day, geometric, like his designs. Every day rose at 6:00 am, did his gymnastic exercises in the room, was followed by a walk of half an hour and was at school at 7:30 am, an hour before starting classes, was the first to arrive, in order to read the news in the press and talk with friends and colleagues.
At school he was known as the white coat, because he used a white coat in his classes, this white coat who also used every afternoon in his studio. Because he had classes in the morning, every afternoon went to the studio, before passing the downtown Oporto cafes, to chat with friends and play some snooker billiards, and only then went to his studio, sometimes in company of friends, they also artists like the sculptor Aureliano Lima, the painter Reis Teixeira, sculptor Fernando Fernandes, the sculptor Arlindo Rocha, among others.
The Sunday was the only day that he didn´t go to the studio, as well as the entire month of August, when went to the beach with the family. The evenings, after dinner were spent sleeping when "watching TV" or friends came to fetch him home to go to meetings: of Firemen department, the various Avintes authorities, the Socialist Party, who was militant, the Avintes Village Council, he arrived to be President, for three months, instead of the President who had fallen ill. Always refused to play senior positions in any of the institutions of his homeland, which has never left, except for a brief period after his degree at the Oporto School of Fine Arts, had been in Paris for over a year in company of some fellow students. Never felt the need to travel, the places he frequented in his daily routines and the imagination was his world.
One of the traits of his personality was never talking about himself, to avoid talking about himself inundated people with questions, this of course, with all those people who approached, sometimes on the street, on the bus, whenever he was. Another feature was never complain about anything, never complained of students, colleagues, friends, family, health, life, lack of money, the government, in short, what people usually complain.
Manuel Pereira da Silva had always the notion that the artistic life was incompatible with marriage and having children. Today I see that his artistic creation had three distinct phases:
The 1st phase, which lasts until age 40, when he married and a year later was born the daughter and the following year his son, before the wedding period was of great artistic creativity, staged after the Bachelor in the sculptor Henrique Moreira studio, where he worked with Sousa Caldas, Lagoa Henriques and Mário Truta at the Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular Wars, in the Boavista square, in Oporto, participated in several group exhibitions, at the Oporto Comercial Athenaeum, with the Independents group, three consecutive years, in Caldas da Rainha, in Viana do Castelo, SNBA (National Society of Fine Arts), the Portuguese World exhibition in Mozambique, the Portuguese State had orders: to Angola (Luanda), for Guinea-Bissau (Bolama), to the Oporto Justice Palace, also had orders of the Church: to make evocative fresh of "Passion of Christ" in the Santa Luzia Church, in Viana do Castelo, Our Lady of Areosa in the Areosa Church, in Oporto, and some busts of priests;
The 2nd phase, of build a family, forced him to be a secondary school teacher and accept all kinds of orders, not all, because he never accepted to do saints, some immigrant communities in France and Canada, specifically, made this request and this was perhaps the few things he refused. Because for the friends he always accepted their requests in a generous way, i.e. never charged a penny for his work he made for all Avintes institutions, including for the Avintes Church, despite being an atheist, always had an enormous respect for people and institutions at various stages of his life, curiously, drew several pictures of Christ, without being per order. In this particular period made busts of Avintes people and public figures such as the journalist Fernando Pessa, Professor José Hermano Saraiva, Major Valentim Loureiro, many priests and businessmen, moreover, and this is another trait of his personality, made busts of all the artists who worked with and his whole family: grandfather, father, children, grandchildren and his own bust in stone;
The 3rd phase comes after retiring from teaching, there began again to have large orders, such as the Tribute to the Industrial Furniture, made by the Paredes City Council, the abstract figure to the gas station on the A1, in Gaia, among other. But it is mainly in his studio, in the morning and afternoon, which he delivers with passion to his artistic creations. These are works that never came to be exposed, unless two years ago at the invitation of Casa Museu Teixeira Lopes who wanted to do a retrospective of his work and it showed a small part of these works. Another trait of his personality is that since the 50s, that is, for about 60 years, refused all invitations to participate in exhibitions, both in the House Museum Teixeira Lopes, who invited regularly, wants the Soares dos Reis Museum, or from some galleries, especially that of his colleague and friend Jaime Isidoro.
While visiting the Museums and Galleries regularly in Oporto, by the invitation of friends and colleagues for their exhibitions, always held fondly these catalogs with dedications of those artists.
I Can’t fail to mention the only exposure that he ever mentioned that was when the Gulbenkian inaugurated the exhibition of the sculptor Henry Moore in 198, in Lisbon. It was a shock to him, because he thought that those sculptures he saw for the first time, had similarities to his own, he judged to be the first to express in that kind of language, reclining women, human figures with holes, human figures with geometric shapes. It was at this point that he no longer express this way, thus had a long period in which only drew, and then he began to pay attention the sheets of paper lying on the ground could be worked and acquiring human forms, sometimes women, sometimes men.
As a final note, it is more a concern of mine, and a challenge to those who might be reading this blog, whenever I ask this question to all my colleagues in the school where I work, who graduated at the Faculty of Fine Arts, painters, sculptors, architects, designers, which is as follows:
Tell me what is the style or art movement of the works of Manuel Pereira da Silva?
The answer has often been a shrug, a silence, a don’t know!
Initially I was disappointed, pursued a better answer, until I realize that this was indeed the correct answer. Manuel Pereira da Silva never intended to represent an era, an artistic period, a movement, as some of his colleagues and friends when they created the "Independent" group in the 40s, in Oporto, at the time were students, which the group intended to break with the past and at the same time free themselves from all the "isms" of all currents and trends and create their works with full freedom. I note that is precisely what the artists currently intend to do, each artist represented himself, without country, without current or movement creates its own artistic language.
Manuel Pereira da Silva had a creative proximity to some fellow artists and friends, as Aureliano Lima, Reis Teixeira, Fernando Fernandes and Arlindo Rocha, with whom he shared his studio, a relationship marked by passion with the work of art, are what could be called a compagnons de route. Reflected the taste of working together, sharing, exchange of ideas, and interaction outside the studio space in the downtown Oporto cafes.
Manuel Pereira da Silva began his activity as a sculptor in the sculptor Henrique Moreira studio, while intern recently graduated from the School of Fine Arts in Oporto, this place where he met my mother, niece of Henry Moreira.
Henrique Moreira was at that time in the 40, 50, 60 and 70 the only artist in the Oporto city, he lived exclusively on his artistic activity, all other artists were mostly secondary school teachers. Has devoted a lifetime only to the sculptural production in Portugal. After his graduation went to work in the studio of Master Teixeira Lopes. His work, figurative, and academic centered representation of distinguished and popular figures, the largest and most substantial part of his vast work was produced for the Oporto city, is therefore rightly considered "the Oporto sculptor".
Manuel Pereira da Silva during the period he worked in the atelier of Henry Moreira collaborated with him in the realization of low-reliefs at the Rivoli Theatre and Oporto Coliseum, and even the "Monument to the Heroes of the Peninsular Wars" in the Boavista square.
Manuel Pereira da Silva has abstract aesthetic tendencies, whose main theme is the human figure and as subthemes: the man, the woman, the couple, the family, the motherhood. Generally the creative process begins with one or several drawings on paper, A4 paper, which can then move to a larger format, bristol board, then can move to the canvas, first drawing with pencil on the canvas and then painting, using various materials: gouache, watercolor, Indian ink, or oil, finally can convert to a sculpture, first made in clay, then in plaster in aluminum structure, just passing the bronze if orders. The purpose of all these studies prepared in drawings, mostly with the pen (Bic) could be made in pencil or crayon, is turning them into sculptures.
Manuel Pereira da Silva intended only to develop a personal project, sought the uniqueness, sought leverage all mankind in him without imposing anything on anyone. Never offered as a gift is works, as is the case with many of the artists he knew, was common they offer as birthday present their work.
However had a peculiar habit at Christmas every year sent a postcard to his friends with a poem of his own. When did eighty, the Gaia City Council together with the Avintes Village Council, honored him with the Medal of Cultural Merit, in a dinner, one of his friends met all these postcards and surprised us all exposing them in a cardboard on the walls of the restaurant. Only at this moment the family had knowledge of it.
The Pereira da Silva collection has about 700 drawings, 280 paintings and 140 sculptures. With the release of this collection I intend to share with the general public the legacy left by Manuel Pereira da Silva to his family, in time thereby perpetuating his artwork.