Maria Antonia Siza e um oceano Jose Grade2 1

Maria Antónia Siza

Porto, 1940 – Porto, 1973

While Maria Antónia Siza produced hundreds of works on paper, including drawings in Indian ink, watercolours, gouaches and prints, alongside embroidery and some paintings, her production remained unknown to the public until very recently, almost half a century after her tragic death at the age of 32.

Her drawings are mainly figurative, with linear expression and a calligraphic quality. She always began by drawing the feet of her subjects, which were then developed spontaneously on the paper in energetic, ascending and zigzagging lines. In this way, figures were revealed as surreal, grotesque, deformed and contorted beings, engaged in indiscernible but individualised actions and gestures, appearing variously standing, falling on the floor or lying in bed. These figures – aged, decrepit and agonising men and women – seem almost always to float.

Clustered in incorporeal constellations, they shift and find balance in dynamic melancholic choreographies of enormous complexity and compositional rigour, enacting shared and coordinated gestures. Others, in contrast, appear isolated, silent and enigmatic on the white and empty background of the page.

Disquieting and bizarre, delirious and fantastic, intimate and tragic: thus is Maria Antónia Siza’s free and personal universe characterised, a violent and brutal manifesto on the frailty of the human condition.

Lígia Afonso
[Plano Nacional das Artes and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian]
Curator, teacher and researcher born in Lisbon in 1981
Text originally written for Google Arts & Culture apropos the exhibition “All I Want, Portuguese Women Artists from 1900 to 2020”, curated by Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand
© José Grade