Artur Manuel Rodrigues do Cruzeiro Seixas, born in Amadora, on December 3, 1920, was the last of the Portuguese surrealists, the movement led by Mário Cesariny (1923-2006), in the late 1940s.
“It is a work that is not brilliant. It is a testimony,” said Cruzeiro Seixas, in an interview with the Lusa agency in 2011, on the eve of his 91st birthday. “I brought together one of the best art collections in Portugal. And I did some nonsense,” he added, as a balance.
In the documentary “As Cartas de Rei Artur”, about the artist, concluded by the director Cláudia Rita Oliveira, five years later, she affirmed: “Of my life nothing will be permanent. I did not live, but I will leave documents of that not to live”.
Plastic artist Artur do Cruzeiro Seixas died on Sunday at the Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon, revealed the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation.
Cruzeiro Seixas studied at the António Arroio School, in Lisbon, and still went through a phase of neorealistic expression, but in the late 1940s he began to participate in the activities of the Surrealists with Cesariny, with whom he began a great friendship and established a relationship that would mark him. . Then there was “that” that Cruzeiro Seixas called “the miracle”, in the interview to Lusa, in 2011.
“I discovered my personality. He [Cesariny] opened these doors for me. He was a real poet, an intellectual, an extraordinary and passionate person “, he recalled.
In the same group were António Maria Lisboa, Mário Henrique-Leiria, Pedro Oom, Risques Pereira, Fernando Alves dos Santos, Carlos Calvet, among others.
It was André Breton, French writer, who published in 1924 the Manifesto of Surrealism, responsible for launching the movement, establishing the principles that influenced many artists worldwide, and that passed through the adoption of a higher reality, the refusal to control logic, of the dominant reason, morals and aesthetics in artistic creation.
“The artistic world today is very poor compared to the extraordinary moment of reinvention that was experienced during the surrealist period in Portugal, in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Cruzeiro Seixas to Lusa in 2011.
“We reinvented time surrealism [da ditadura] Salazar, when there was nothing in Portugal. The hunger was so great and there were no books. Nothing came. But we were reinventing. There were extraordinary ideas, especially in the field of painting “, recalled the artist, in another interview, in 2008.
“Today the world is very poor, because there is nothing to compare to a period when we needed to invent something”, underlined Cruzeiro Seixas, insisting on the revolutionary character of surrealism. Nothing had surpassed him since then, he said. “We are all desperate looking for a new idea”.
For the artist, the most important thing has always been “the desire for freedom”.
Although enthusiastic about artistic activity in Portugal, at the turn of the 1940s to the next, Cruzeiro Seixas left for Africa in 1950, with the desire to visit the continent, enlisting in the merchant navy.
He traveled through India and the Far East, settling in Angola in 1952, where he held several exhibitions that deeply marked the society of the time.
Back in Portugal, in 1964, he received a scholarship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and, in 1967, made a retrospective at the Buchholz Gallery, in Lisbon, and an exhibition with Mário Cesariny, in Porto.
Between 1968 and 1974 he directed the Galeria São Mamede, in the Portuguese capital, and, from 1976 to 1983, the Galeria da Junta de Turismo do Estoril, as well as the Galeria de Vilamoura, in the Algarve, from 1985 to 1988.
He created scenarios for the National Ballet Company and for the former Ballet Gulbenkian.
He participated in group exhibitions in France, Brazil, Belgium, the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany and Mexico.
In 1999, he donated his entire collection to the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, to set up the Surrealism Studies Center and the Surrealism Museum, which were created in the meantime, and today the Espaço Cruzeiro Seixas, in the Foundation, exists with a permanent exhibition dedicated to the artist.
Cruzeiro Seixas is represented in public and private collections and in private and national museums, namely in the Modern Collection of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu do Chiado and in the National Library, in Lisbon, in the Machado de Castro Museum, in Coimbra, at the Tomar Library and the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, among other institutions
The debut of the documentary “As Cartas do Rei Artur”, by Cláudia Rita Oliveira, in 2016, the third film dedicated to the visual artist, was followed by “NOMA – Cruzeiro Seixas” (2006), by Carlos Cabral Nunes, and still “Cruzeiro Seixas: O Vício da Liberdade” (2010), by Alberto Serra and Ricardo Espírito Santo.
“The Letters of King Arthur” result from interviews with Cruzeiro Seixas, which intersect with images of his painting, of his objects, of the author’s notebooks and drawings, in a set of testimonies from which emerges, in particular, the relationship with Mário Cesariny, which lasted for several decades, marked by friendship, passion and rupture.
The film addresses the homosexuality of both, and Cruzeiro Seixas’s relationship with art, with Mário Cesariny’s way of life and with Africa, of which he said he was the great love of life.
“One of my suicides was in 1975, when I severed relations with Cesariny,” he said in the film.
In the “Letters from Mário Cesariny to Cruzeiro Seixas”, which Sistema Solar published in 2016, covering the long period from August 1941 to December 1975, the “inner journey”, the “confessions on the other side of the barricade “, the” reflections, illuminations, lightning, sparks that speak to us of consummate and elusive love and the successive objects of desire “, as the researcher Perfecto E. Cuadrado, organizer of the work, then described.
Cruzeiro Seixas dedicated Mário Cesariny to some of his poems. But the artist and his work were also inspiration for authors like Herberto Helder, Alfredo Margarido, José Pierre, Juan Carlos Valera, Bernardo Pinto de Almeida, Albano Martins, António Barahona, among others.
In 2012, Cruzeiro Seixas was honored by the Santiago de Chile International Book Fair (FILSA), which dedicated him an exclusive issue of the magazine “Derrame”, of the Chilean surrealist group. In the same year, he received the Medal of Honor from the Portuguese Society of Authors.
In 2017, the Vila Nova de Cerveira Art Biennial celebrated its 40th anniversary with a tribute to the artist.
A year later, it was Centro Português de Serigrafia, in Lisbon, to remember its journey, with an exhibition and the edition of a book with the graphic work, which would follow, in 2019, the album “Diário não Diário”, with “all its creative dimension”.
Among his last exhibitions of Cruzeiro Seixas are “Colaborativa.mente”, with Valter Hugo Mãe, at Casa da Liberdade – Mário Cesariny, in Lisbon, in 2018, and “Nos Labirintos que Inventei”, at Museu do Côa, in 2019.
In June last year, it was also associated with the launch of the complete works by Mário Henrique-Leiria, edited by E-Primatur.
Last September, Perve Galeria, in Lisbon, inaugurated a tribute to Cruzeiro Seixas, to mark the artist’s centenary.
Shortly after, in October, the Minister of Culture, Graça Fonseca, gave Cruzeiro Seixas the Medal of Cultural Merit, as “institutional recognition, but also as a personal recognition of someone who joins the many who admire him and who find themselves look that has always seen farther and deeper ”.
The delivery took place at the National Library of Portugal, which has a patent, until December 31, the exhibition “O Tempo das Imagens III”, held within the scope of the 35th anniversary of the Centro Português de Serigrafia (CPS), which includes a room entirely dedicated to the work of Cruzeiro Seixas.
In June of this year, the first of four volumes of “Obra Poética”, by Cruzeiro Seixas, was published, within the scope of the collection “Elogio da Sombra”, coordinated by Valter Hugo Mãe, for Porto Editora, in a collection organized by the poet and sculptor Isabel Meyrelles, another name for Portuguese surrealism.
The first three volumes of Cruzeiro Seixas’ poetic work bring together poems already published, namely by Edições Quási, but which were sold out in the market, and the fourth, which will close the project, collects unpublished and dispersed articles, the publisher’s source told Lusa. The 2nd volume should arrive at bookstores at the end of the year and, the third, “at the beginning of 2021”.
“The worst nonsense in the world today – and Portugal resents it a lot – is that people think that intellectual life, art, culture, are subsidiary things and should be in the background”, criticized Cruzeiro Seixas, in an interview with Lusa, in 2011.
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