A Look at the Portuguese World



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The unusual gallerist

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The Salgadeiras gallery arises from Ana Matos impulse that following her instinct has been building quality and differential collection for the domestic market, but that does not stop there, there is also a clear commitment to international partnerships.

I questioned me as to why a person who comes from a completely different area decides to open a gallery and then I remembered your grandmother.
Ana Matos: Yes, everything comes a little from there. As the years go by it seems that we have returned more to childhood. To these principles we do not know very well where they come from and I not have much awareness of them throughout life, but then there is a turning point. Maybe it was because of the crisis of 40, I just turn 43 years olds, but when I think why this happens, it's nothing extraordinary, not very common so be it, the idea of having a gallery had much to do with work my grandmother, the fact that in my childhood have been very close to her and have followed her artistic activity. Her studio, the entire process of creation, it was something that was very close and that was part of my daily life. So go the exhibits, visit museums, see her work in the workshop all this was also part of my memories. Took account of the fact that my father had a gallery in Funchal, called "Funchália" in the late eighties, somehow it gave me some knowledge and that contact with the exhibits. So one day I was going to the hairdresser when I saw a small area, which had been a studio of an artist at the time decided to ask what were the conditions and I was able to bear them, got the space, it all began there in 1st of April of 2003.

Notice that you choose different types of artists, with different types of media and methods and do not follow a unifying line as do many gallery owners.
AM: When I opened the gallery there were two paths, there are galleries in Lisbon working specifically with a particular type of support, whether paper or photo and there are other generational type. To me does not interest me neither one nor the other, in reality the choice of artists, how do I get to them and invite them to participate is something very emotional. I cannot say exactly why I prefer one over the other, one can even show me the portfolio and the other not so, it is something very instinctive. Of course, then there's a framework, try to be as rational and objective to realize the type of work and their consistency. As a rule, the artists show me the series they are doing and with which they are satisfied, when I know the artist I see also what they do not like to show, what is backwards hidden and it helps me to undestand them, give them my interpretation and a story around the work. These are things that I could have at home, appears much of affection, taste and instinct and it defines the gallery style. I never wanted to be not exclusive to a particular artistic medium, but also wanted to not only work with emerging artists, or respected, like this mixture of painting and photography, the artist 70 next to twenties, or a fifty year old artist that paints for five years, is this mixture that interests me, I think what sets the gallery style is me.

Do you think the middle still looks at you with a certain bias? You are young, a woman and come from another area. Especially because in our country there is much talk of the lack of female artists.
AM: The generation of women artists of my grandmother are very few. Now, that's a little different, but curiously there are many galleries in Lisbon. If you did a quick analysis you will find many women, however, I never felt any prejudice, quite honestly, I do not think much of it, I felt more that gender issue because it I did not have training in the area. I noticed that my work was not taken seriously, it was brand new, came from the computer area and had a gallery, like a kind of hobby to pass the time. Indeed, I think it was one of the reasons for which I take an master's in curating because I felt I needed to solidify the things he had learned an empirical way and it was trial and error, when I opened the gallery knew nothing, not even like hanging a canvas, or how to put in a precarious. Five years of things go well and I feel even that was what I wanted to do, I decided to take a master's degree and I think among peers and artists, my work in the gallery was taken more seriously.

You now changed your space.
AM: This is another prejudice. The former was an area of 40 square meters, divided into two floors which became small. It is an area where I was very happy, it all started there, but for a contemporary art gallery in fact there are some rules to follow and there was a certain prejudice because it is a small space. Already limited the number of exhibits, the conditions under which works are and the work themselves, these three variables together were complicated, twelve years later decided to go to another space, a new bet, the Watchtower Street, which further strengthens all the effort and investment in recent years.

So how do you define after these years the national market?
AM: I define a market as being very small, which complicates the work of gallery owners and artists. Artists cannot claim to have a solo exhibition every year, is too limiting in terms of sustainability and its own existence, because they simply stagnate on the market, it forces them to participate more in group exhibitions and go out. Also is a market where there are many pre-established a priori ideas, collaborations outside, participation in fairs and work with international spaces, will always be good inside. Then I think, it gives up too much importance to art critics, which is an almost non-existent practice, we have very few, but there is a kind of consultants and a certain elite that ultimately command the artists, especially the collections and state investments deciding which artists have a good future and which are a good investment and that is dope.

It has been one of the reasons why these have become itinerant exhibition right way?
AM: No, as a matter of necessity. I often say that the necessity is the mother of invention and it happened because it was 40 square meters and wanted to do bigger and do group exhibitions. It was very difficult in this area and work with these dimensions and it was this reason that led me to make exhibitions outside. The first one was in 2005 in Granada, was an invitation, presented 7 artists in what was a crazy journey, prepared everything in two weeks. The reason I go out of the country, or of Lisbon, is the need for new spaces, larger, allowing new proposals. It also has a side of curiosity, trying to understand how people who do not know the artists, the gallery and my work how they react, how the interpret and the questions they ask, is an almost virgin glance. We had a very curious case when we were in Bucharest, with Claudio Garrudo in an exhibition called "borderline" when there was a series of portraits, self-contemplation, he was placed in extreme situations, for example in a morgue, simulated to a suicide and what happened? People who saw that exhibition in the gallery and who know me have a certain reaction, which was completely different in Romania, where neither realized in some cases it was even the artist, had an approach and relationship completely diferent with the photo, were not seeing Claudio Garrudo, the person. This was very interesting and enriching.

Now that you spoke of exhibitions outside Portugal, what is your perception of the market?
AM: There is a very pragmatic aspect to take into account when making exhibitions outside is very difficult to sell. This is therefore a premise that you must have this much, why? You do not sell at least at first, because the purchase of an art object also involves rightly so and I speak against me, a knowledge and an involvement, or there's an impulse buying, like, tha person falls in love and already buy's, or else enjoy's viewing an exhibition, then you want to see another and want to follow the artist's work. The first times you go abroad is very difficult to sell also when I invite foreign artists to expose in the gallery. However, there is much curiosity in both the Czech Republic, as in Romania who state curiosity in relation to our culture and artists, people have a genuine interest, because it is part of their education and their everyday lives, there are even eager to know and if the artists goes is even very good because precipitates that contact with the public.

And in the more traditional markets of art, you cannot penetrate?
AM: I ended up with these countries mentioned by emotional issues, because I met a Romanian curator and another Czech and come out of nowhere is more difficult. There must be a local point of contact and this that will open the doors, so the reason I have been talking with the Czech Republic and Romania is not strategic, not something thought, it just happened, we were developing these partnerships and also do not care to go to many places at once, because in terms of profitability is very difficult, interests me go deepening my relationship with these two countries, because the Romanian gallery owner is an absolutely extraordinary person, in cultural terms and a sensitivity out of the ordinary and the Czech curator also. Maybe in two or three years I will develop other geographies.

What are the plans for the gallery Salgadeiras for this year?
AM: This year is very conservative year so to speak. I've done 102 exhibitions, I am centennial. Last year we changed our space and this year will focus on me even in the new area, the exhibits that I will present, I'm already preparing the year 2016 and continuing international collaborations. I'm going out a lot less of Lisbon, the only exceptions were commitments already made to the House of Seedlings, Calheta and in Bucharest, other than that, I want to stay in the new house and work. Because it's very important to be present in the gallery, is also a new area for me, I have to see how it works, the light is different, the space is different, the volume is huge compared to what I had previously and now I have to be there to see how it all works in summer, in winter, with rain, sunny days, issues that the previous space did not arise, I almost did not need to be there, I assemble exhibitions with my eyes closed, not now, is all new.


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