Ernesto de Sousa
Lisboa, 1921 — Lisboa, 1988
Ernesto de Sousa, at least over the past 20 years, is viewed as a key figure by anyone who thinks, produces and writes about art in Portugal - ranging from curators, art historians and critics to new generations of artists. He was a photographer, filmmaker, writer, theoretician, essayist, art and film critic, curator, scholar of popular art, and pioneer in the organization of happenings and multi-media projects. He dedicated himself to all these activities with commitment, seriousness, rigour and a premeditated and carefree amateurism.
His artistic practice constitutes a unique example and inexhaustible case study, due to the way that he linked together multiple artistic forms and shook disciplinary foundations, blurring different time periods and geographies (e.g. popular art and erudite art - the neo-avant-gardes in particular - old and new technologies, the periphery and the centre). He is also a serious case for reflection about the very concept of authorship, since he favoured collaboration, and dedicated himself to such a diverse range of activities, always resisting being pigeon-holed within a specific discipline, openly assuming influences by others on his work.
Notwithstanding the diversity of his approaches to the arts and the wide variety of artistic media he used, photography played a fundamental role in his career. He discovered photography early on in his career, and it also underpinned his subsequent film- and video-making. He also used photography to study popular culture, to develop an original approach to sculpture, and to structure his mixed media works of the 1960s and 1970s. As is highlighted by this exhibition, Ernesto de Sousa also used photography to create a space of closeness, intimacy, and the here-and-now, with others and with things, that helps us understand that Nós Não Estamos Algures (We Are Not Elsewhere) (the name of one his mixed-media works produced in 1969).