The Portuguese ambassador in Madrid, João Mira-Gomes, yesterday highlighted the events to be held to mark the centenary of the birth of the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner for Literature, José Saramago, who maintained close ties with Spain until his death.
At a lunch with journalists at his residence, the ambassador, accompanied by the Embassy’s Cultural Counsellor, Patricia Severino, and other members of his team, reviewed the activities carried out by the organisation ‘Cultura Portugal’ in its 19th edition, and those still to be held.
Under the slogan “It’s Time for Culture”, the neighbouring country has offered Spain, throughout the year, a sample of its best Portuguese representatives in the disciplines of music, literature, cinema, theatre, circus and plastic arts, among others. Furthermore, as the ambassador pointed out, Portugal has been the guest country at the Irudika Festival, an international professional illustration meeting held in Vitoria, and is also the guest country at FIG Bilbao, the International Festival of Engraving and Art on Paper, which will take place from 25 to 28 November.
‘Cultura Portugal’ is an initiative that, since 2003, has been fostering ties and cultural exchange between the two countries, promoted by the Portuguese Embassy, in collaboration with the Camões Institute and Turismo de Portugal, and supported by various public and private institutions.
In the remaining months of the year, ‘Cultura Portugal’ still has a very full agenda and, in addition, the desire to ensure that the celebrations of the centenary of Saramago’s birth in Spain, including Lanzarote, which was his home for years and the place where he died, serve to cross the paths of thought and bring together the Spanish and Portuguese peoples, as the writer dreamed.
The centenary events, which have just got under way, will include readings, debates, talks, concerts and exhibitions, which will tour Spain and Portugal in a compendium of culture derived from Saramago’s work.
The centenary celebrations are taking place at a time when, as highlighted at the lunch, interest in learning Portuguese in Spain has grown exponentially, rising from 8,000 students at different educational levels in 2010 to 53,000 in 2021.
Similarly, there is a growing interest among Spaniards in tourism, to the point that, during 2019, the number of those who travelled to the neighbouring country reached seven million, consolidating a trend that has only grown since 2015.
The ambassador referred, in his speech, to the recent Portuguese-Spanish summit held in Trujillo, and indicated that there was agreement between the representatives of the two countries: “We want to have more Portuguese culture in Spain and more Spanish culture in Portugal”.
Literary Residence Scholarship in Madrid
Another of the objectives of “Cultura Portugal” is the launch of the 1st Literary Residence Scholarship in Madrid, a project that was announced at the last Book Fair.
Likewise, during 2022, the 450th anniversary of ‘Os Lusiadas’, the great epic in verse written by Luis de Camões in 1572, will be celebrated.
Portugal will also be present in the coming weeks at the Seville European Film Festival, which will be held from 5 to 13 of this month; at the Fado Festival, also in Seville, on 30 November and 1 December, with Lisbon as the central theme; and at a new edition of the Portugal Alive music festival in Madrid and Barcelona, on 10 and 11 December.
From 29 November to 19 December, Portuguese dance artists will also take their place in Africa Moment. Artes escénicas del Africa contemporánea, also in Madrid and Barcelona. And the Companhia Do Chapitó, will bring the production Hamlet, at the Teatro de la Abadía, from 15 to 19 December.
Literature, Music, Film and Decorative Arts
These events will complete what has been the most extensive edition of ‘Cultura Portugal’ and which, in the field of literature, was attended by Ana Luisa Amaral, recently awarded the Queen Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry. Amaral took part in a colloquium with the director of the Cervantes Institute, the poet Luis García Montero, on the theme “What’s in a name? Words cannot fix anything beyond the ephemerality of things”, on Portuguese and Spanish literature and their common elements.
Portugal was also at the Hay Festival and the writer Lídia Jorge, winner of the FIL Literature Prize in 2020, took part in a conversation at the Casa de México on Mexican literature.
In the area of visual arts, the Heinrich Ehrhardt Gallery hosted the exhibition Circular Spaces by the Portuguese artist Gonçalo Sena, who won the first Apertura Comunidad de Madrid 2021 Prize for his piece To Intrude On Nature’s Way, acquired and to form part of the Collection of the CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo in Móstoles.
In ‘Cultura Portugal’, the best Portuguese music, traditional and contemporary, was provided, as in previous years, by the Fado Festival, which, in addition to the Servilla event, has been held in Barcelona, Madrid, and this year, also in Andorra, with Carminho, Camané, Mário Laginha and Teresinha Landeiro as representatives of Portuguese Fado. Júlio Resende, one of the most international Portuguese musicians for his original Fado-Jazz fusion, was also at Caixa Forum.
In addition, from 23 September until 14 September, a new edition of Peninsulars. Second Iberian Encounters of Contemporary Textile Art, which brings together, at the National Museum of Decorative Arts, a group of Portuguese and Spanish textile artists, with the best creations on the peninsular level.