• Canvas
  • Oil
  • Inv. 04P1268

Mário Eloy

A fuga

«In a desperate and untimely manner, he fell in love. He dreamed. He created in the lyrical World of his Soul a deluded dream of Love. Thus, he erected castles of fortune replete with tenderness. All of the money that fell into his hands he spent on armfuls of flowers that he sent to his Beloved Beauty… In her honour, he created inspired drawings and painted pictures such as “Fuga”».*


The words are Jorge Segurado’s and they admirably serve this work by Mário Eloy, in which the personal wishes of the painter and the wishes of the world are mixed up. The Beauty fainting in the arms of the self-depicted man, tells tragic stories of destructive loves that are certainly also scenes of war. In 1927, Eloy moved to Berlin, where he married. He returned to Portugal for good in 1933, leaving behind his wife, Dora, who never managed to adapt to his native country, as well as his son. In 1939, mother and son fled first to Czechoslovakia and then to Holland, following the invasion of Czech territory by German troops. It is therefore impossible not to see in that petrified female head, which the painter is clasping furiously on the canvas, an allegory of the impossible (but dreamt of?) conjugal (and family) love. Or even the fall of Berlin, which gave him painting, together with Paris, and which he was forced to abandon due to the troubled times leading up to the Second World War. In 1933, with Hitler’s rise to power, every foreigner became a persona non grata.


The blood from the wound caused by the deadly bite drips through the painter’s fingers like a bunch of red roses expressing his passion. In a sweeping gesture – a sort of final ecstasy announced by the blue shade that colours his teeth and the corner of his eye – the artist rails against a thick wall behind which the cold world of illness and death takes shape. He was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, in 1940, which led to him being admitted to Hospital of Telhal. This was used here to provide a forewarning of the suffering of those gloomy times and the horrors, both his and the world’s, that lay ahead. Suspended in the air, wrapped in a blue cloud that grabs him and sucks him up, Eloy fuses his existence into a tangled knot with the «current, confused, sad and silenced humanity» described by the surrealist António Dacosta in 1943. As a painter «on the run», the jump which he makes frees him once and for all from the traditions that «sully my ability to execute my work according to my intentions», as he wrote in the catalogue of the I Salão dos Independentes (1930). The painter-poet now has «brushes on his head instead of hair», allowing him to realise his artistic aims more directly. Liberated from reality – the wall through which he broke, but which, at the same time, in 1938-39, still held him, until it definitively released him from its bonds in the long agony awaiting him – each brush stroke conveys an immediate and pure intention issuing from his extraordinary imagination. Imbued with extraordinary visual strength, this powerful self-portrait seals Eloy’s one-way trip to a world dominated by hallucination and anguish.



Isabel Lopes Cardoso

May 2010


* Jorge Segurado, Mário Eloy: pinturas e desenhos, Lisboa, Imprensa Nacional – Casa da Moeda, 1982.

Portuguese Art since 1910
Royal Academy of Arts
Setembro de 1978
Londres, Royal Academy of Arts
Exposição colectiva, realizada em Londres, no ano de 1978. Catalogo editado pela F.C.G.
Exposição Retrospectiva da obra do pintor Mário Eloy 1900-1951
Março a Maio de 1958
Porto, Escola Superior de Belas-Artes
1 de Março de 1958
Lisboa, S.N.I.
Lisboa /Porto, 1958
4ª Exposição de Arte Moderna
Dezembro de 1939
Lisboa, SPN
No SPN, Dezembro 1939.
De Amadeo aos anos 60
17 de Junho a 10 de Julho de 1988
S. João da Madeira, Centro de Arte de S. João da Madeira
S, João da Madeira, 1988
O rosto da máscara - A auto-representação na Arte Portuguesa
Centro Cultural de Belém
Maio 1994
Lisboa Centro Cultural de Belém
Maio 1994
Mario Eloy. Exposição retrospectiva
12 de Julho a 29 de Setembro de 1996
Lisboa, Museu do Chiado
Museu do Chiado, 1996
A Partir da Colecção
25 Julho de 2006 a 29 Abril de 2007
Museu do CAMJAP - Piso 01
Comissariado: Jorge Molder e Leonor Nazaré
Updated on 23 january 2015

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