NEW YORK, NY -- A world-traveler and lifelong student of non-Western arts and cultures, Portuguese artist José de Guimarães combines his passion for anthropology with a bold, bright style. While de Guimarães’ work exhibits the influences of Matisse, CoBrA group artists and Alexander Calder, there is far more at play. As a student, de Guimarães traveled throughout Europe, studying the Old Master painters. Then, while stationed in Angola during a stint in the Portuguese military, he explored Africa in great depth. Studying many cultures and non-verbal practices across the vast continent, de Guimarães would go on to assemble a remarkable collection of African art – rivaling even the late assemblage artist Arman’s legendary collection. The artist’s collections of Asian and pre-Colombian art would also grow along with his desire to study and amass rare artifacts sourced from locales across the globe. Staunchly opposed to Colonialism in all its forms, de Guimarães has continued to travel and exhibit globally – building a public sculpture program in Mexico City and creating some of the first public art installations to be shown in Japan, in addition to countless exhibitions in major galleries and institutions.
Featured in The Collection of Joseph Cicio is a large-scale painting, Jogador de Futebol, from 1980. As vibrantly colorful and contemporary as the best of de Guimarães’ work, it seems fitting the artist would focus on the world’s most beloved international sport – soccer. One can only assume de Guimarães grew to love soccer even more than most native Portuguese as he traversed the globe, finding the sport to be something that connects our many nations in a way few other forms of communication can. While at first glance Jogador de Futebol may read like a contemporized take on the early 20th Century Synchronist movement, the totemic figure is reminiscent of Toltec art – updated with high-key colors and a dash of Jasper Johns-esque Pop running across the top border. It is this melding of all world cultures where de Guimarães is at his finest. The artist is a proponent of the Anthropophagia art movement, coined by 60’s Brazilian artists Lygia Clark,Heli Oiticica and others; the term translate roughly to “cannibalism.” As grotesque as it sounds, the intent is to absorb and combine any and all of the world’s cultural forms – and in so doing, create new forms for an international art movement. One can imagine de Guimarães consuming the world’s art history with his voracious appetite, and producing new works built on the past in his own unmistakable style.
Furthering the opportunity for discovery and discussion with his audience, José de Guimarães has endeavored to install ethnographic pieces among his own work – showing the many through-lines and noting the historical references. De Guimarães staged his paper sculptures within showcases of African art at the Museum of Angouleme in France in 1975. More recently, he included pieces from his own collection alongside his paintings at the Museo Fundacao Oriente in Lisbon. These seemingly disparate works, all things considered, are often only truly divided by the marking of time, and little else. De Guimarães includes the full information of each artifact on view along with his own paintings, giving each object equal representation and standing.Wishing to re-establish value to these remarkable cultures, José de Guimarães has created art from archaeology, borne of a lifelong desire to reassert value in the arts and practices oft-ignored by western society. Given that we can trace soccer as far back as 2500 BC, first emanating in Greece, China and Egypt, evolving into the international multi-billion dollar phenomenon it is today, Jogador de Futebol is a fine statement of de Guimarães’ unique ability to combine and contemporize the many cultures scattered across our expansive globe.
The Collection of Joseph Cicio
A highlight of the October 14, 2020 auction of The Collection of Joseph Cicio is Jogador de Futebol by José de Guimarães.