- Inv. 83P1172
Adriano de Sousa Lopes
This composition reveals another side of the painter Sousa Lopes. This mundane side consists in the recording of social events, a theme he cultivated throughout his career, alongside the open air landscape painting which he favored.
Despite being undated (Sousa Lopes did not always date his work), one can situate this social meeting in the 1910’s or 1920’s, judging by the ensembles worn by the women: long dresses, pulled in tightly around the waist with large ballooning sleeves.
The scene takes place in a closed and darkened salon, from which the deep and vibrant red of the floorboard stands out, possibly to reinforce the formality of the event. At the back, a buffet with a man wearing a tailcoat bending over it delimits the space. At the forefront to the left, a group of women gather in dialogue with a woman wearing white, who orchestrates a bow in courteous greeting. Other figures to the right as well as two men on the middle left, soberly sketched in their black suits, contribute to stimulate the composition, imbuing it with dynamism and movement. This dynamism is visually translated in the multiplication of (virtual) diagonals and the figures´ inclinations, as well as in the colors of the women’s dresses that reflect the light, contrasting with the somber tones of the image in general.
Unlike numerous other portraits and depictions of groups of people produced by Sousa Lopes throughout his life, this small painting, a visual annotation or “pochade”, departs from realist conventions towards an expressionistic and caricatural vision rarely found in his work. The probability of the painting being a preparatory sketch or study may explain the freedom of the summary execution of the figures' faces and its drastic simplification of light and color. Moreover, it highlights the transitory and fleeting character of this mundane event, whose protagonists find themselves as trapped in an enclosed environment as, it seems, they are trapped beneath the masks of their social roles.