Portugal is having a moment. Since 2014 the country has been flourishing. It transcended tough economic times and now enjoys booming tourism, a recent cultural and culinary renaissance and an attractive political climate, drawing visitors there from around the world.
With that vibrant setting as the backdrop, a visionary leader in Portugal's art/cultural ecosystem, Miguel Carvalho, has helped to fuel the nation's creative shift with his bold passion to bring together the best of art, architecture and design. The destination is Melides, one of the most beautiful places in Portugal where he's transforming a remote former eucalyptus farm over an hour from Lisbon into an artistic epicenter for art and design devotees called Melides Art.
From its website melidesart.com, it's accurately described as a place “where art meets nature, a place where you can experience the powerful alchemy of art and nature in the wildly beautiful, utterly inspiring and glorious surroundings of the Alentejo coastal region. Set amidst a contemporary art park, thus providing a truly unique lifestyle concept, this residential project and art community is designed to be an innovative, creative, and international platform for some of the world’s most talented living modern artists.”
Artist Susan Swartz was honored to be invited as one of five exhibiting visual artists to participate in the groundbreaking kick off of the new Melides Art Pavilion designed by James Waterworth, SOHO House's former European Design Director. The exclusive invite only launch took place on May 18 to coincide with Lisbon's prestigious annual contemporary Art Fair, ARCO 2019 which took place May 15 - 19. ARCO boasts an interesting mix of Portuguese and international artists drawing leaders in the European art world, writers, photographers and critics there to take part.
Melides Art held a progressive opening encompassing several successive events in one robust evening. It started with a sunset gathering at the new Art Pavilion to see the sculptures of Brooklyn artist Aaron King and a triptych by Susan Swartz entitled Natural Flux 101, 102 and 103.
The crowd then made their way to Studio 6 for dinner and a chance to preview more works by Aaron King and artists Johannes Vanderbeek, Anabela Soares and Stephen G. Rhodes. After dinner the group was treated to a live art installation performance by artist Tony Cassanelli and the soulful gospel collective choir of Mozambique Khanimambo led by Selma Uamusse who urged the crowd to consider helping the flood victims of Mozambique.
The choir ensemble then led the crowd in a singing procession into Studio 4 to enjoy the installation of 40 original paintings by Susan Swartz and a concert by world class pianist Joao Ventura who performed the original music composition of Susan's art installation video Preserving Grace on a baby grand while the video was projected onto a 30 foot outdoor screen under the nearly full moon. Ventura’s musical achievements also include accompanying Madonna during her surprise performance at the 2018 Met Gala.
Portugal's beloved singer Jon Luz then surprised the crowd with a private concert at the end of the evening. All who were there gathered around the piano in delight to hear Luz accompanied by Joao Ventura collaboratively spark their creative magic. It was an ethereal experience and a beautiful moment in time set against the stunning landscape of Susan Swartz’s exhibition.
We are pleased to share highlights of Susan's exhibition and her epic week in Portugal.