Patrícia Sasportes

listen to me

may the day be clear for you and

at every corner of light may you reap 

enough nourishment for your death

go where no one can talk to you

or recognize you – go through that field

of extinct craters – go through that door

of water as vast as the night

Al Berto, Horto de Incêndio

This school was born in Rome in a little black notebook where I first sketched out what a project like this could be. Having a school was an old dream, perhaps a childish dream of filling a gap in an educational system which at the time I already considered to be humanly inaccessible to many of those who attended.

I talked to artist Paulo Brighenti about the idea of starting a painting course, and by the end of our first meeting we decided to open a school. Paulo brought with him years of knowledge about the art world, substantial experience as a teacher and the desire to create a project that would add something to the academic world. I had the lightness of my 23 years, a family connection to modern art and a great desire to make things happen.

Various people came through MArt in the early days, people to whom we gave room to build what could be the first outlines of an educational programme. André Almeida e Sousa and Ana Natividade stayed with us, helping to build MArt within the Portuguese art world in the midst of an economic crisis. Today, MArt’s team includes Carolina Sasportes, Miguel Ferrão, Francisca Carvalho, Mariana Dias Coutinho, Filipa Pestana Rocha, Matilde Torres Pereira and Carlos Ribeiro. Our work is the result of terribly mundane problems combined with absolutely impossible tasks. These are the tasks we propose to ourselves with ambition, confidence in each other and a fair amount of madness.

Perhaps because we have such a united and dedicated core team, MArt seems to be immune to the circumstances surrounding it. We started MArt at 12 Rua Rosa Araújo and moved to Manuel da Maia school’s workshop pavilion in 2017. The school has been classified as “TEIP” – a government designation for an educational territory needing priority intervention. Most students come from the Vale de Alcântara neighbourhoods and are at risk of social exclusion. This school year we are working with eight classes and their teachers and one of the themes we are exploring is the poetry of Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, as MArt is one of the institutions partnered with the poet’s official centenary commemorations. 

When we moved into Manuel da Maia’s workshops, we rebuilt the school, surpassed all our abilities and ended up rebuilding ourselves. This move coincided with Federico Bertolazzi’s invitation to work with Al Berto’s poems in “Horto de Incêndio”.

Our curriculum is built upon three levels, with Drawing, Painting, Printmaking and Ceramics and an Artistic Residency program. At the first level, we promote the learning of technical skills and the use of different materials. At the second level we aim to develop each student’s unique language and autonomy in creating a personal body of work, and at the third level we focus on building authorial work in studio and its relationship with the art world. MArt’s teaching methods are based on a horizontal approach to education that enthusiastically joins amateurs and professionals in the same space, contaminating each other and helping us in our work with Manuel da Maia students. 

Our printmaking studio is called “sem escrúpulos” – “without scruples”, and is a cult place inside MArt. Ana Natividade is so generous in the way she gives herself to her work that the artists end up working with her instead of simply working in a printmaking studio. For the last two years, there have always been people coming in and out of the studio to work on this exhibition, mingling in the corridors with members of the team, our resident artists and MArt and Manuel da Maia’s students. 

First and foremost, our gratitude goes to Ana, who had the very hard task of working around the different schedules, calendars and commitments of 26 artists, truly making the impossible possible. Without her passionate dedication and resilience, this project, which we are so proud of, would not have happened. Thank you Ana. 

We also wish to express our deepest gratitude to all the artists who embarked on this adventure with us with their enthusiasm, dedication and generosity. We believe ourselves to be standing before an exceptional body of work. 

Our sincere gratitude goes to all who collaborated and supported us in the making of this exhibition.

To the Cattedra Agustina Bessa-Luís – Dipartimento di studi letterari, filosofici e di storia dell’arte – Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, represented by Federico Bertolazzi, who threw us the challenge and followed the entire project with enormous joy and optimism. We accuse him of the irresponsibility that started the whole dynamic that led us here! 

To the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica, for hosting this exhibition with professionalism, enthusiasm and high standards, teaching us a lot along the way. To Dr. Antonella Fusco, our sincerest thanks.

To Dr Emília Ferreira, who invited us to broaden this journey’s horizon by promoting an exhibition in Lisbon’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC).

To our institutional partners, fundamental in the realization of a project of this nature, Instituto Camões and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.

To our sponsors, the Embassy of Portugal in Italy and Associazione Italiana Studi Portoghesi e Brasiliani.

To Italian and Portuguese publishers Passigli and Assírio & Alvim.

And to Superfície Pictórica and Ponto das Artes, who supported the production. 

Thank you. 

       February 2019