Visiting the wonderful city of Lisbon, equally menaced by decay and ruthless development, we visited Casa da Achada. Situated in a part of Lisbon where misery and shiny renovation is found side by side, this cultural venue is dedicated to the life and achievements of Mário Dionísio (1916-1993), a teacher, writer, painter and activist virtually unknown outside of Portugal.
The center offers access to the library of the late artist and his wife, and is a space for exhibitions, concerts and readings.
Mário Dionísio worked as a French and Portuguese teacher during the long years of the Salazar dictatorship, when he and his wife were active in the political opposition. His writings include short stories and poems, unfortunately largely untranslated, as well as art theory and criticism.
After figurative beginnings in the 1940s in the post-cubist tradition of Picasso and Leger (see “Reunião Clandestina, 1947, top middle in the image at the head of the page), Mário Dionísio switched to abstraction. Initially he used a softly angular pictorial language and intense colors, sometimes evoking shapes of the physical world such as interiors or bookcases (see “Camponês Armado, 1979 middle left in the image at the head of the page). The late 1980s and early 1990s brought about an impressive explosion of his creativity and his paintings began to feature hovering irregular shapes in bright daytime hues. These powerfully lyrical paintings radiate an incredible lightness and serenity (see also “O regresso”, 1989, middle right in the image at the head of the page).
His art marks a powerful and internationally still under-appreciated contribution to 20th century European painting.