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The Mind's Eye / Surrealist Sale / CRUZEIRO SEIXAS (1920-2020) A noite sem fim (Executed in 1977)

Lot 33
A noite sem fim
8 March 2022, 14:00 GMT
London, New Bond Street

Sold for £14,000 inc. premium

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A noite sem fim
indistinctly signed (lower left)
gouache, watercolour, brush, pen and India ink and pencil on paper
30.5 x 42.9cm (12 x 16 7/8in).
Executed in 1977


The artist's collection.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.

Lisbon, Perve Galeria, Homenagem a Cruzeiro Seixas, 9 February – 24 March 2012.
Lisbon, Freedom House - Mário Cesariny, Real-Surreal, 27 June – 21 July 2013.
Lisbon, Freedom House - Mário Cesariny, Colaborativamente, 25 April – 30 June 2018.
Lisbon, Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes, Núcleo Cadávre Exquis, 3 – 31 December 2020.
Lisbon, Freedom House - Mário Cesariny, Construir o Nada Perfeito, 19 September 2020 – 15 May 2021.

Surrealism is a truly global movement, albeit one with localised offshoots that are enlightened by their own indigenous mythologies, natural phenomena and national politics. For Os Surrealistas, the Surrealists of Portugal, Cruzeiro Seixas was of central significance. An artistic shapeshifter possessing innumerable skills across painting, sculpture, drawing, poetry, scenography, curation and collage, Seixas delivered to the movement unique and diverse invocations of André Breton's philosophies. Beyond Portugal, Seixas also lived a peripatetic life, travelling throughout Africa, India and Asia while enlisted in the merchant navy from 1950 – 1964. Momentous in this regard was his period in Angola, during which he collected indigenous artworks, contributed fervently to his own practice (see, for example, lot 36), and curated landmark exhibitions of Modern Portuguese art.

Seixas' work has been described as a 'poetics of the fantastic', as he weaves together central Surrealist paradoxes: dream and nightmare, sacred and profane, sex and death, body and soul. His works achieve atmospheres that strike both tranquillity and anxiety, overlaying sublime nocturnal environments with alien vegetation, hollow architecture, celestial phenomena, ghosts, monsters, and youthful human bodies with zoomorphic heads. In tone and imagery, his influences from Salvador Dalí, Giorgio de Chirico, William Blake, Arthur Rimbaud and Hieronymus Bosch ring true. Like his forebears, Seixas was able to deftly hint at the existence of some narrative, while at the same time obscuring it beneath eerie layers of outlandish imagery. Yet despite this disquiet and distortion, Seixas generates tonal harmonies with bold and comforting colour fields, such as the seductive midnight blue in A noite sem fim (lot 34) and the shining golden feathery flame in Untitled (lot 37). The jagged, re-worked and highly expressive cut-outs of his collaging practice (as in Untitled, lot 35) display his overarching fascination with exploring the subconscious potential of the unexpected.

Seixas was not only a hero to Os Surrealistas but was also the last of his movement. In the late 1990s he established the Portuguese Surrealism Centre in collaboration with the Cupertino de Miranda family, to whom he donated his collection. He passed away in 2020 at the age of 99, after which he was honoured in a resplendent array of global exhibitions, including in 2021 at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.

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