Mário Cesariny Centenary

Mário Cesariny would have reached the age of 100 in August 2023. Over the next few months, the centenary of the birth of Portuguese painter and poet will be celebrated with a range of initiatives across the country.
18 aug 2023

Mário Cesariny was born in Lisbon on 9 August 1923. He studied at the António Arroio School of Decorative Arts, where he met Cruzeiro Seixas, who became one of the most renowned names in Portuguese surrealism and with whom he founded the group Os Surrealistas.

Cesariny soon started attending various tertúlias or literary gatherings in Lisbon cafés, where he developed a strong interest in the neo-realist and surrealist movements. This curiosity was cemented on a trip to Paris in the late 1940s, when he met André Breton, who inspired him to create the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa and, later the anti-group Os Surrealistas. 

The artist is best known for his poetry, having made one of the most significant contributions to Portuguese literature. However, he also found refuge in the visual arts, particularly painting, exploring unconventional materials, such as coffee, and irreverent techniques, such as allowing his hand to be guided by the juddering of a tram.

During the 1960s, Cesariny received a Gulbenkian Foundation grant to write a book on Maria Helena Vieira da Silva – O Castelo Surrealista [The Surrealist Castle], as the book was titled, was only published two decades later.

The CAM Collection includes 13 works by the artist, including painting, collage and drawing. One of his paintings, Naniôra – Uma e duas [Naniôra – One and two] – a title referring to one of his poems – can be seen in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation until 18 September as part of the Histories of a Collection exhibition.

Mário Cesariny left his library and his artistic and documentary archives to the Cupertino de Miranda Foundation, in Vila Nova de Famalicão, which is currently holding an exhibition dedicated to him, on display until September 2024.

The celebrations also include exhibitions at the MAAT, the Museu Municipal Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and the Centro de Arte Contemporânea de Coimbra, as well as round tables and poetry readings, among other events devoted to this fundamental figure of Portuguese surrealism.

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