A glimpse into Siza’s universe

Drawing, as a way of thinking, is the starting point for the exhibition dedicated to one of the world's greatest architects.
09 may 2024

Some people don’t need surnames. And there are surnames that point us directly to one specific person, as is the case with Siza.

Focusing on Siza’s lines and drawings, this exhibition will bring together archives that the architect himself has entrusted to the CCA – Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Serralves Foundation and the Gulbenkian Art Library, as well as pieces from the British Drawing Matters centre and Siza’s own studio.

The exhibition will clearly demonstrate Siza’s need to put down on paper what he imagines and sees. “Drawing as a way of thinking,” says architect, critic and exhibition curator Carlos Quintáns Eiras, is thus the main idea behind this exhibition. Siza “draws when he works, when he eats, during moments when he relaxes while listening to music, watching a film or chatting; there is never a moment when drawing stops being a necessity,” he concludes. The Main Gallery of the Headquarters Building will be filled with sketches, plans, books, many of the A4 notebooks (always the same format) where Siza has left his mark over the course of his 90 years of life, and other objects (furniture and design, bearing his signature) that are part of his professional universe. “From his earliest works, Siza begins to design the chairs, tables or lamps he needs, and this work continues and is reflected both in the physical objects and in the drawings used to build them, showing how his work is a total work of art, in which he doesn’t forsake a single creative aspect,” says Carlos Quintáns Eiras. This “total work of art” (much of it built, but much left unbuilt) will be analysed throughout the gallery through thirty concepts that translate into verbs such as to warm, to lower, to illuminate, to swim, to look, to pray, to fly. Complementing this analysis of the work there will be 900 photographs (exhibited and projected) of Siza’s projects by Spanish photographer Juan Rodriguez.

Siza’s more personal, more intimate universe will be revealed in the museum’s Temporary Exhibitions Gallery, where (drawn) portraits of family and friends, notes, travel sketches, watercolours and drawings that – in the absence of his usual A4 notebook, a tablecloth, plane bags, exhibition programmes or any other surface with enough white space for him to draw on – are even made on a pack of cigarettes. This room will also feature works by his wife, Maria Antónia Siza, his daughter and grandson, personal furniture and sculptures and works by some of his reference artists: Amadeo, Picasso and Matisse.

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