Original colors of Almada Negreiros panels in Lisbon station revealed with restoration


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The original colors used by the artist Almada Negreiros in the set of panels created for the Gare Marítima da Rocha do Conde d’Óbidos, in Lisbon, are beginning to be revealed by the specialists responsible for the restoration project that began in January.

The intervention on the panels of that maritime station will take place over 14 months, according to the Port of Lisbon Administration (APL), as part of a wider project that also includes the panels of the Alcântara Maritime Station, the restoration of the two buildings and the creation of an Interpretive Center.

“The artist Almada Negreiros (1893-1970) considered this to be his most accomplished work, and saw these panels as one of his best,” restoration technician Mariagiulia Roscigno, one of the seven specialists from the NC Restauro – Nova Conservação team involved in the project, told Lusa.

The expert discovered during her study of the work that “it is possible to notice a variation in his way of expressing himself, a development of technique, of the use of materials, and even from a figurative point of view”.

Between 1943 and 1949, Almada Negreiros reached the peak of his mural painting at the Rocha do Conde d’Óbidos Maritime Station and the Alcântara Maritime Station, in a set of panels that are being restored under a collaboration protocol between APL and the World Monuments Fund Portugal Group (WMF), with global funding of 700,000 euros, through donations from national and international patrons.

The restoration began at the Gare Marítima da Rocha do Conde d’Óbidos, where the experts made a pre-diagnosis of the condition of the six panels, each 27 square meters in size.

Almada was inspired by the reality of the capital, such as the departure of boats laden with emigrants, the fishing and shipbuilding activities along the River Tagus, and Lisbon’s life on the streets, in circus shows with trapeze artists and jugglers, the bustle of fishmongers and trolls.

“They are panels with a lot of movement and detail by an artist who was multidisciplinary and liked to experiment with different techniques,” said Mariagiulia Roscigno, adding that during the research, the group of conservators discovered that, in the initial work of applying the drawings to the walls for later painting, Almada explored various modes of intervention.

In the first of the three panels about life in the port and on the city streets, the artist portrayed himself on a balcony with his wife, Sarah Afonso (1899-1993), who was also a modernist artist, known for her work.

The process has already gone through several stages, from cleaning the panels, polishing the surfaces, removing dust deposits that have covered up the colors, stabilizing the pictorial films, filling in gaps, in a job that will “restore the luminosity” of the works that were the subject of only one restoration intervention in the early 1970s.

“We discovered that the artist was interested in understanding the limits of the pictorial techniques he used, so he experimented with several,” said Mariagiulia Roscigno who, after four months of work, says she already has a “clear picture of the situation” of the panels and the needs of this project, which has the collaboration and supervision of the José de Figueiredo Laboratory.

Also on site, Ricardo Roque, APL’s administrator, recalled that the conservation and restoration protocol signed with WMF will continue for the Almada panels at the Alcântara Maritime Station.

The signing of the initial protocol was the result of the Port of Lisbon’s application to the WMF Watch Program, in collaboration with the Hércules Laboratory of the University of Évora, NC Restauro – Nova Conservação, the Almada Negreiros Sarah Affonso Study and Documentation Centre and the Art History Institute of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the Universidade Nova in Lisbon.

Ricardo Roque told Lusa that the project is part of a wider redevelopment of the two stations and the surrounding area in Alcântara.

“The aim is to restore this historic heritage and help strengthen ties with the local community,” according to the administrator of the entity that will finance restoration work on both historic stations, in a phased project that will involve an investment of around four million euros.

Ricardo Roque also pointed out that the project to restore the station buildings – for which the contract is due to be launched by the end of the year – includes the creation of an Interpretive Center at the Alcântara Maritime Station, where eight more panels by Almada illustrate everything from the maritime voyages of the Portuguese to the artist’s contemporary Lisbon.

The Interpretive Center, to be created in partnership with Turismo de Lisboa, “will be dedicated to promoting the panels, but also to the historical role of the stations and the port of Lisbon, namely in welcoming refugees from the Second World War, departures of emigrants and military personnel during the Colonial War”.

Today, to mark International Monuments and Sites Day, APL is opening the Gare Marítima da Rocha do Conde d’Óbidos to the public, subject to prior registration, between 17:00 and 19:00.

In 2023, Laboratório Hércules’ project “Almada – O desvendar da Arte da Pintura Mural de Almada Negreiros (1938-1956)” – which brings together a multidisciplinary team to analyze the artist’s mural painting legacy in depth and diagnose its current state – was one of the four Portuguese projects awarded the Europa Nostra prizes.

The project, which began in 2021, is spread over five areas, including, in addition to the maritime stations – which are home to the most emblematic panels under study, according to the experts – the Church of Our Lady of Fátima, the former headquarters of Diário de Notícias and the Patrício Prazeres School in Lisbon.Original colors of Almada Negreiros panels in Lisbon station revealed with restoration

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavan
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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