THE MISSING LINK
António Dacosta is the link between the Portuguese surrealist modernism of the nineteen forties and the postmodernism
that was a feature of painting in the nineteen eighties.
In 1940 Dacosta was co-organiser, along with António Pedro and Pamela Boden, of what turned out to be the first surrealist exhibition in Portugal. This exhibition at the Casa Repe coincided with the Exposição do mundo português in Belém, which sang the glories of Portuguese colonialism, yet presented a different aspect of Portuguese culture: a less monumental, more mysterious and darker one. António Dacosta stopped painting when he was living in Paris in 1949, a dense mist hanging over his surrealist work, which was partially lost when a fire burned down his Lisbon studio in 1944.
In 1983, in an unexpected event after his slow, discreet and personal return to painting, he held an exhibition in Lisbon and then a retrospective in 1988 at the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
These new paintings once again searched for the heroic and melancholic poetics and imaginary at the centre of the “return to painting” heralded by the nineteen eighties expressionists throughout Europe.
Bicho no chão, which lies at the centre of this bright and sensitive process, is a unique, almost abstract and fleeting work. The serpent, which is the only motif on the canvas, possesses a mythological connotation close to what can be found in other paintings belonging to the Colecção da Caixa Geral de Depósitos; yet the light from the floor, the abstraction of the surface of the canvas and the slight replica of the reptile occupying the upper right corner of the painting turn it into a rare and unique image. It is insular, as he would like to hear it said.