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In this article about urban art tributes to personalities in Lisbon, we bring you art pieces that highlight people and/or events that deserve to be well-known.
Urban art, like other artistic expressions, is often a way of manifesting dissatisfaction towards issues that affect us as a society or problems that affect us globally.
It’s in this art that we also witness tributes to national and foreign individuals who, in some way, have excelled in different areas or who have contributed with their effort and dedication to a better world.
Join a tour and get to know the fabulous urban artworks in the centre of Lisbon.
Urban Art Tributes to Personalities
Without further due, let’s get to know some of the urban art tributes to personalities that we can find in the city of Lisbon.
Captain Salgueiro Maia (1944-1992) is one of the prominent figures of the April 25, 1974 Revolution that liberated Portugal from the harsh dictatorial regime. This personality was the protagonist of the mural, located on the exterior of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at NOVA School of Social Sciences, in Berna Avenue, and continues to be so in the current reinterpreted version.
In 2014, commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, a mural was created by a collective from the Underdogs platform, involving four male urban artists. The goal was to showcase their interpretations of April 25th and how this event, which they did not experience, influenced their lives.
Frederico Draw portrayed Salgueiro Maia, inspired by the image captured by photojournalist Alfredo Cunha on the decisive day of the revolution in Carmo Square.
Gonçalo Ribeiro aka Mar took charge of the background supporting the Captain, drawing the raised fists of the people with the colours that make up the Portuguese flag.
The patterns that filled the captain’s guns and uniform were created by Add Fuel, who has accustomed us to his reinterpretations of Portuguese tilework.
On each side of the mural, there was a symbolic piece by Miguel Januário. The left one referred to pre-April 25th, the shield surrounded by bones and chains. The right side showed a heart and two G3 rifles, with a Latin inscription meaning “Either we find a way, or we make one,” urging the need for change.
In 2023, on November 8th, the painting that replaced the previous one, which was already degraded, was inaugurated. The initiative took place as part of the celebrations of the 50 years of April 25th and the 45th anniversary of the Faculty, once again organised by the Underdogs platform, and this time by a female collective of four artists: Tamara Alves, Sara Fonseca da Graça aka Petra Preta, MOAMI, and Mariana Malhão. The goal is to introduce a new perspective on this significant event, highlighting the role of women.
Alfredo Cunha’s photograph is once again used as inspiration for the realistic portrait of Salgueiro Maia, drawn by Tamara Alves.
Sara Fonseca da Graça, in turn, wanted to highlight the figure of women, the female protagonists of the liberation movements of the former Portuguese colonies who also played a fundamental role.
The unmistakable patterns and graphic elements in the background of this panel reveal the authorship of the multifaceted MOAMI. Her touching, motivating, and global art here has the unifying mission of connecting brotherly peoples bound by a common past.
The white silhouettes created by Margarida Malhão symbolise “the strength of the united people.” It can be read in the curatorial text: “Hand in hand, diverse layers of Portuguese society fought and celebrated the transition from decades of oppression to freedom. The carnation symbolises the idea of breaking free, and the raised arms personify collective identity as a transformative force.”
Raoni Metuktire (1932) is the personality that the Brazilian creator Kobra brought to MURO | Festival of Urban Art Lx 2017, in Quinta do Marquês de Abrantes in Marvila.
Learn more about the Festival and other artworks of this parish in Urban Art of Marvila.
This portrait of the Brazilian indigenous leader, from the Kayapo people, is part of “Etnias – Todos Somos Um” (Ethnicities – We Are All One) by Kobra. A project that aims to draw attention to the fight against the invasion of the Amazon, which the representative of the indigenous peoples has been waging and to the importance of preserving their peoples and the forest, this being a global responsibility and not only of Brazil.
Nuno Teotónio Pereira and José Cardoso Pires
In the parking lot of the Alvalade Market there are two urban art tributes to personalities, initiatives by the City Council of Lisbon and the Civil Parish of Alvalade.
They were two outstanding figures in different domains, but both were residents in this parish of Lisbon.
The tribute to the architect Nuno Teotónio Pereira (1922-2016) is from 2017. An important figure in his field, having received numerous awards, including the Valmor Prizes (a prize established in 1898 according to the testament left by the 2nd Viscount of Valmor to reward the architectural quality of the new buildings built in the city of Lisbon) from: 1967 with the Housing Tower in Olivais Norte; 1971 with Franjinhas Building, in Rua Braamcamp; and from 1975 with the project of the Sagrado Coração de Jesus Church, in Rua Camilo Castelo Branco.
João Samina portrayed Nuno Teotónio Pereira on a background of geometric shapes in gray, black and red colours, a very characteristic combination of this Portuguese creator.
In 2018, SKRAN immortalised José Cardoso Pires in one of the walls next to the market, for the 2nd edition of Alvalade Capital da Leitura, in which the life and work of the writer were highlighted.
He’s considered one of the greatest Portuguese writers of the 20th century, being “O Delfim” from 1968 one of his masterpieces.
In 2018, as part of the tribute of the City Council of Lisbon to Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), a painting by the Portuguese illustrator Nuno Saraiva was made in collaboration with several other artists.
This artwork located in Rua João Soares, in Campo Grande, evokes the centenary of the birth of the South African historical leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner. But it also brings back the memories of the years of 1987 and 1989 for reflection. Dates in which, respectively, Portugal voted at the UN against the resolution for the unconditional release of Nelson Mandela and the resolution on child victims of apartheid in South Africa.
Mandela’s phrase “Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world” can also be read, emphasising the importance of widespread access to education, which unfortunately still needs to be reinforced…
Brazilian activist Marielle Franco, a human rights defender and city councilor in the city of Rio de Janeiro, was brutally murdered in March 2018.
In the edition of that same year of the Iminente Festival that took place at Panorâmico de Monsanto Viewpoint, the emblematic Portuguese artist Vhils joined the project Brave Walls of Amnesty International. He sculpted Marielle Franco’s face in one of the walls, highlighting the value of those who take on the mission of fighting for causes, in the name of all.
Amália e Celeste Rodrigues
Two famous fado performers have been present since August 2019 on the side of buildings of Quinta da Cabrinha in Alcântara.
In the same place, a Portuguese guitar by 2CarryOn and another piece alluding to fado by the Spanish graffiter Werens can also be observed.
Personalities of Benfica Neighbourhood
Contrary to what we’ve seen so far, the mural located in Rua das Garridas, in the Civil Parish of Benfica portrays not only one personality but rather a set of public figures, whose lives are connected in some way to this neighbourhood.
The initiative came from the Civil Parish that carried out a poll on social media with a list of 24 personalities in order to elect 15. Among the elected are writers, sportsmen, actors, musicians, comedians, and others…
From left to right we have: Carlos Paredes; João Lobo Antunes; António Lobo Antunes; José Águas; Ana Bacalhau; Nuno Markl; Lena D’Água; Madalena Iglésias; Padre Álvaro Proença; Beatriz Costa; António Livramento; Francisco Lázaro; Vasco Santana; Ruy de Carvalho and António Feio.
This mural inaugurated in May 2020 has drawings by the illustrator Tomás Reis, which were transformed into graffiti by the urban artists Edis One and Pariz One, also residents of Benfica.
With this itinerary of the urban art tributes to personalities in Lisbon we wanted to draw your attention to a type of tribute that is certainly ephemeral, but also striking and different from the traditional.
Note: Original article published on 11 November 2020.
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