If suddenly a Transformation Post is covered in puppets, that's art for the community

A man standing on a ladder, with a lightbulb in his hand and looking at the stars. This illustration of […]

01_Watt_Mariana the MiserableA man standing on a ladder, with a lightbulb in his hand and looking at the stars. This illustration by Mariana dos Santos, aka Mariana the Miserable, was the starting point for the intervention of three other artists – Xana, Padure and Jorge Pereira – at the EDP Transformation Post, on the road between Figueira and Mexilhoeira Grande , in the rural interior of the municipality of Portimão.

The four artists approached this improbable object as if from a Exquisite Corpse (weird corpse) it was: that kind of game invented by the surrealists in which one artist starts, the other continues, and so on, until the end result is something none of the players could ever have imagined on their own.

And now, on the four walls of the PT, there is a lot to see. This is just one of two interventions by Mariana, the Miserable, within the scope of WATT?, an artistic project for the community, part of the EDP Foundation's national Public Art project, which LAC – Laboratory of Creative Activities, from Lagos, coordinates at the Algarve.

Her other work, also revealing her career as an illustrator, is on the main wall of the small Mercado da Figueira.


04_Watt_Mariana the Miserable
Mariana, the Miserable, with her «lady loaded with oranges», at the Mercado da Figueira


«I had few references from the Algarve and had never been to Figueira, so I thought of drawing a lady loaded with oranges, with the obvious reference to oranges from the Algarve», explained the artist to Sul Informação. And Mariana the Miserable, was pleased with the reaction of people, who have identified with the illustration.

The same artist also intervened in Barão de São João, another rural location, but in the neighboring municipality of Lagos. «In Barão, I used a drawing that I had already done, but I thought it made sense, considering the description that [Maria] João had done, of a village with many foreigners, people arriving and departing».

In Barão, his intervention speaks of “bird migrations, of people traveling on top of birds”.

When our newspaper spoke to Mariana, Miserável, the artist still did not know what would be the intervention of the remaining three at the Transformation Post on the side of the Figueira road. "I'm very curious," she revealed.


The “cadavre exquis” that brings together Mariana, Miserável, Xana, Jorge Pereira and Padure, in a transformation station by the side of the road


Xana (Alexandre Barata) explains what was done: «each one makes an intervention and I make an element that brings together the other three interventions, a kind of frieze that tries to reconcile ideas, almost as if I had the role of master of ideas» . All this, he adds, with «some irony, even in relation to the EDP sponsor». The result is what can be seen in the photographs in this article, in which the large yellow dots are Xana's contribution to this weird corpse.

This project, for being more than simple street art, it is also art of and for the community, started with assemblies with the population of each location – São Bartolomeu de Messines, Barão de São João, Mexilhoeira Grande and Figueira, Vila do Bispo , Alte and Alportel – to define the artists' concrete projects. However, explains Xana, "artists have complete freedom, we are not there to make requested records". But, from this interaction between the artists' ideas and those of the people who live in each of the locations, works emerged.

There, very close to Figueira, on the previously bare wall of the uninteresting building of the Parish Council of Mexilhoeira Grande, Xana made another intervention.

«I was given to choose between a display of possible locations, but I chose this one because it seemed to me that it was a cleaner monument», explains the artist, in an interview with Sul Informação, after descending from the scaffold mounted next to the wall, to allow you to reach the highest places.


Xana in action

«I decided to focus my work, within the scope of the Watt project, starting from the observation of a topic that already interested me – the platbands. It is a theme that I had already used in my interventions, in the Algarve and beyond. The relationship between platbands and boat designs, this ornamentation of Algarve houses has always interested me».

«From the search for platbands in Mexilhoeira, I found a house with checkered friezes similar to what I'm doing here, and I started from there. In the assembly with the community, I mentioned this and someone said: it is the former Parish Council. It's perfect!” exclaims Xana. "The current Junta has no soul, so I'm going to take something to the new one, in connection with the old one."

In addition to the enlarged frieze, in blue ("Algarvian architecture is marked by color", he points out), his intervention has two large black circles, which "are no longer a decorative element in architecture and are transformed into a being with two eyes. This parish joins two old parishes [Mexilhoeira and Figueira], so it is an eye for each one. I play with that, my work is a little bit like that», explains the artist.


Xana's intervention on the side wall of the Parish Council of Mexilhoeira Grande and Figueira, already completed


In São Bartolomeu de Messines, in the center of the town, Xana chose to use “graphic elements, a kind of waves, related to the Maternal Booklet of João de Deus”. And he made a «play with words that have been obsessing me – Freedom, Love, Wisdom».

"I deconstruct the words, as if the walls of the Transformation Post were pages of the Maternal Booklet," he added.

Although most of the artistic interventions are already finished, after having even suffered an unusual episode of censorship by the Vila do Bispo Council, the work will continue until next September.

Maria João Alcobia, from LAC, explains that, “in the same land there can be several languages, people can understand something easier or something less immediate. Despite having given the artists option, they all fit together very well and showed this diversity of work».


Padure created marine beings in this PT in Mexilhoeira Grande…and the Oficina restaurant, which is back there, was one of the references…

Now, just before finishing this project, which will leave public art on the walls of the seven most peripheral locations in the Algarve, for at least two years, it remains for the public to browse this artistic map to learn about all the interventions.

And there will even be help for these journeys of discovery: Maria João Alcobia reveals that, in September and October, the project will carry out guided tours, with artists if possible, «even for the people of the land, telling stories and guiding» . It is that, «these paintings are no longer by the artists, but by the population». And he adds that that was exactly what the project intended.


Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues|Sul Informação