José Escada (1934-1980) The great sorcerer, 1972-73. Oil on canvas. 55.5 x 38 cm. Inv. 83P1008

The Great Sorcerer


In The great sorcerer we find a surface dominated by the shape that organises it, suggesting an increase in scale from the symmetrical micro-figures that Escada composed during part of the 1950s and the 1960s.

There are resemblances to these previous explorations in the symmetry of the form, in its relationship with the background or even in the continuous brushstroke that draws the sign, repeating the shape of the hat of the figure drawn in profile. The treatment of colour and its luminous values are entirely different to canvases such as Untitled, from 1965. As in Portrait of Mário Cesariny or Self portrait, the colour appears more raw, in other words, more opaque and less worked.

The title seems to refer ironically to an ecclesiastical figure who appears in profile at the top of the composition. This ironic tone should be understood through the intimate relationship that the church had with the Estado Novo regime, principally under the leadership of Cardinal Cerejeira, who abandoned the patriarchate of Lisbon in May 1971, but also through his replacement by D. António Ribeiro who was nominated on 13 May 1971, the anniversary of the Marian appearances in Fátima. On the other hand, as in the previously mentioned self portrait of the artist, once again a possible hand is shown, a recurring symbol in several of Escada’s works that repeat this compositional formula and in which there is an encrypted significance of profound mysticism.

André da Silveira Rodrigues


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Updated on 03 august 2016

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