[open the box] António Palolo

SKINDEEP by Delfim Sardo

Untitled (1988) by António PaloloCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

António Palolo

Untitled, 1988
Acrylic on canvas
89 x 232 cm
Inventory 275545
© DMF, Lisboa

In the nineteen sixties the Portuguese city of Évora was a meeting point for a group of very young artists who were very aware of the art of their time and sought out new paths among the many opened up between pop and psychedelic art, new directions between figuration and abstraction. These young artists, who would open up the doors for a second generation made up of José Carvalho and José Conduto, were Joaquim Bravo, Álvaro Lapa and António Palolo.

António Palolo began his career very early, at the age of sixteen, and held his first solo exhibition in the Galeria 111 in Lisbon in 1964 at the age of eighteen. This precocious aspect was very common in the artists of his generation: Fernando Calhau started at eighteen and Vítor Pomar at sixteen.

The works in Palolo’s early years already displayed attention concerning the structure of the surface in compositions coming close to pop – or rather, to the version of pop that he knew through the mediation of António Areal, often in hypothetical dialogues with Warhol or Rauschenberg. His drawings were line and plane structure, often with the introduction of calligraphy, which prefigured the dichotomy that his pictorial work would always have, involving long periods of geometric constructions – which then gave way to large-scale formal constructions, in reticules or colour fields – and then others, in which the human form (or the body, in the broader sense) was his subject.

Untitled (1988) by António PaloloCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

In the end it would be the more geometrical aspect that would prevail in his work as a whole, also because it would become the support for a more subtle work on the colour, transparency and epidermis of the canvas. This was a rare conjugation in Portugal, where examples of sophisticated colourist painters are scant. That quality of sparkle in the colour of the painting in the last phase of his life seems to prove Almada Negreiros’s thesis that a great painter only gets better with time. Palolo’s work at the end of the eighties comes back to the geometrical shapes that had been present in the sixties, yet add great vigour to them; they are constructed towards a progressive dryness, with a precise, large scale, maintaining dialogue with the history of painting since the fifties, with flourishes of Pollock, Agnes Martin or, in the final zone of his work, of Sean Scully or Brice Marden.

Untitled (1995) by António PaloloCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

António Palolo

Untitled, 1995
Acrylic on paper
192 x 103 cm (each)
Inventory 439074
© Laura Castro Caldas / Paulo Cintra

Yet this cultured aspect of his painting is never allowed to sink into a mere web of quotations because the sensitivity of the chromatic work and the velour of the surface (achieved through the acrylic going through a silicon emulsion) makes each painting an aesthetically precise moment.

António Palolo was a rare painter because in his work quotation and reference are indiscernible from the defining of a poetic view of his own. And that is not a theoretical quality; it is a visible practice.

Untitled (1995) by António PaloloCulturgest - Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos

António Palolo

Untitled, 1995
Acrylic on paper
192 x 103 cm (each)
Inventory 439075
© Laura Castro Caldas / Paulo Cintra

António Palolo was born in Évora, in 1946, and died in Lisbon, in 2000. He started his activity as a self-taught visual artist in his hometown, along with Joaquim Bravo, Álvaro Lapa and António Charrua. He divided his work among several different disciplines, such as sculpture, painting and video. He exhibited his work publicly for the first time in 1964, and participated in the Alternativa zero exhibition (1977), as well as in Depois do modernismo, at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes (Lisbon, 1983). The Centro de Arte Moderna – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (CAM-FCG) devoted a retrospective exhibition of painting and drawing to him in 1995. Among the several different group exhibitions in which he participated are Five artists, Hudson River Museum (New York, 1971), Arte portuguesa contemporânea, Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (1976) and 25 artistas portugueses, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (1981). He is represented in several private and instituional collections, including those of the Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis (Oporto), Fundação de Serralves (Oporto), CAM-FCG (Lisbon) and Colecção Berardo (Lisbon).

António Palolo (cat.), Lisboa, Fun- dação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1992.
António Palolo 1963-1995 (cat.), Lisboa, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 1995.

Credits: Story

© Delfim Sardo, 2009
Biography / Bibliography
© Mariana Viterbo Brandão, 2009
© David Alan Prescott, 2009

Story production (Collection Caixa Geral de Depósitos)
Lúcia Marques (coordinator)
Hugo Dinis (production assistant)

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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