José de Almada Negreiros: Drawing in Motion

Cinema itself marvelled at how cartoons could carry it up to the threshold of poetry. In the end, it was just cinema longingly reminiscing about its own beginnings. Because the origins of cinema are there, in early antiquity: in a time when discovering photography wasn’t even a dream yet, man already knew how to achieve movement through a succession of images. And so, weary of reality, cinema decided to reclaim its magic lantern.

José de Almada Negreiros, in his conference Desenhos Animados Realidade Imaginada [Cartoons, an Imagined Reality], 1938

About the event



Who filmed my being while I was dreaming me up?

But who wrote the plot
that I play as the character of myself?
Who made me the protagonist of a life I did not dream of?
Who filmed my being while I was dreaming me up?

José de Almada Negreiros, from the poem As Quatro Manhãs [The Four Mornings], 1935


Taking photographs with his imagination

Unsure as to the whereabouts of reality, the protagonist starts taking photographs with his imagination.

José de Almada Negreiros, in Nome de Guerra [War Name], 1938 (1925)


Movie stars

Art is always a transposition of reality, and it starts when reality is not imitated but rather imagined.

José de Almada Negreiros, in his conference Desenhos Animados Realidade Imaginada [Cartoons, an Imagined Reality], 1938


Blue square

All at once, on a sidewalk, the rainbow was a square down to the bottom of the X-rays beyond the transparent horse in a cinematographic continuity that outlined the sacredly epileptic feminine apology in sinuous heat all made of emphasis and seized reflexes. Whenever I stopped to contemplate the square from the perpendicular line of desire, light fell on the artificially slight stage of the naked triangle in a bluish feminine record. My eyes withdrew into a gasp brightened by flustered scandal and mad with reddish artifice. When I went back again there was a registered letter addressed to me.
A blue square was all it contained.

José de Almada Negreiros, from the short-story K4 O Quadrado Azul [K4 The Blue Square], 1917



THE FEMALE PUPPET – After a long time of hearing nothing around me, after the drum beat had become very faint and distant… I would open my eyes ever so slightly, without being seen by anyone… and I would understand everything… Then I would try very slowly to move one of my fingers, no matter which, and it would move! […]
THE MALE PUPPET – Why are you speaking so low?
THE FEMALE PUPPET – (Whispering.) Shush!… It’s because of the Man… Poor fellow, if he knew we can move!… Have you ever given a serious thought to that? One day, by mistake, you may be thinking that the Man is not around, and it turns out that he’s watching you! How awful!!! I can’t even think of it!
THE MALE PUPPET – Bah! If the Man would see me move, he would think he was dreaming… he wouldn’t believe it…

José de Almada Negreiros, from the play Antes de Começar [Before the Beginning], 1921


Imagined reality

I draw, I write, I sculpt, I do stained glass, I dance, I do theatre, I do cinema, and, if my art doesn’t speak through any of these voices, what can we do then? Just pretend that I’m already dead – and that I left behind these posthumous works…

José de Almada Negreiros interviewed by Luís de Oliveira Guimarães, 1942


Magic lantern