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Figurative tiles from Portugal - Centro de Artes de Ovar

five centuries of history

We went to visit the exhibition at the Centro de Artes de Ovar where we can find examples produced in our country between the beginning of the 17th century and the present. These are some records.


"Portugal is the country where, from north to south, as well as on the islands, we can find tiles applied in churches, convents, palaces, gardens, houses, markets, railway stations, building facades....

Its presence is so striking and intense that we can speak of an art that identifies a country and a culture.

However, Portugal did not invent the tile, being it common to other countries, and the first ones we applied in our architectures, from the mid-15th century, were importers of Iberian production centers such as Manises, Seville or Toledo.

This relationship between tiles and architecture, through wall coverings inside buildings and on exterior facades, often of a monumental character, is the identifying characteristic of tile art in Portugal, which is absent from this exhibition. The works presented, all of them from the collection of the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, are no longer found in spaces where they were applied, having lost the dialogues they established with architecture.

However, other identifying characteristics of the use of tile in Portugal can be highlighted here: its multifaceted forms of expression, namely through figurative panels, patronage and ornamental representations; its immense decorative value, but also the ways in which its surfaces served as a support for the renewal of taste, as a vehicle for narratives and social or power statements, for the registration of imaginaries.

All this reviewing the fundamental role of engraving as a support for the work of painters and also presenting some of the different languages ​​used by some of the most prominent contemporary Portuguese artists.

A secular tradition in permanent updating."


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