A Look at the Portuguese World


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The founder

Written by  yvette vieira fts Bárbara Fernandes

The J.Silvério Pires Foundation is born from an idea that its founder cherished throughout a lifetime and that materialized in a space open to the dissemination of culture, art and knowledge, in Career street in Funchal.

How did the idea arises to create a cultural foundation that encompasses the various components?
John Silverio Pires: This idea was not born now, was born when I was about 15-16 years old, because all my life I had a particularly direct and constant appetite for culture. Had a literary journal when I was very young at the time it was published had a circulation of 1,300 copies, which was a phenomenon between 1949-50. Then, I was advancing in age and now I am a dinosaur, because I have 86 years and continued the same men dedicating myself to culture, art and knowledge.

But later had a professional life that was not entirely devoted to this area.
JSP: My professional life, curiously, had a very strong effect on my choice. My first profession was precisely in journalism, as editor of the Journal of Madeira, at the invitation of Carlos Santos, who was the editor of the time and before had published the literary journal. Later I had another chapter linked to commercial activities that supported economically to my existence and worked mainly in the travel and shipping.

But how did you envisioned this foundation?
JSP: There was an idealization, but the idea was already there, wanted one related to the diffusion of local culture. I remain very committed to the projection of painting, literature and knowledge. Art may be first, because it reflected the most in-depth of what is culture, without art there is no culture setting. Painting is something that I always loved, as I said earlier I was a journalist and art critic, and at some point in my life I noticed this empty building and decided to open it to the world.

How is it then that you choose the artists?
JSP: There is no prior exclusion of artists. Right now we have Cristina Coelho, who is a debutante, since this is her first exhibition and certainly would not be known if you had not ceded this space. Normally, almost all artists seek the foundation, because they feel that we are prepared to support them.

It has a kind of residency.
JSP: I created this image, but I'd would say it's more an artistic status of resident, is a painter who makes of the foundation its studio. Currently we have Katia Sa and previously was the David J. Haines, that's why I say that we do not distinguish, art is art. All who come and knock at the door will be certainly welcomed.

What are the objectives outlined for the foundation?
JSP: It's a platform for socio-cultural intervention, not only in art but in other areas such as conferences. In October we have a talk with the president of the Portuguese Association for the Study of Religions, Paulo Alexandre Borges, who is also professor and writer. We open the door to anyone, known or not.

I would not say it's almost incongruous to have a space dedicated to culture, is a utopia?
JSP: I would say that is an option. I do not consider that culture is a utopia, it is the deeper reality that an individual can experience. A being that knows everything that can get with the culture does not become a citizen developed in terms of its humanistic message. The culture is absolutely necessary for it to exist and is essential people with good will to facilitate their dissemination. There is no vanity, nor care to do things for me. That's not what interests me, what I want is to get from this dehydrate phenomenon is to bring culture to the street and everybody.

Is also a constant learning?
JSP: I am learning a lot and I'm always learning, but I am the most ignorant there is, because the mind cannot be filled, it is empty and this is always we have to be aware that the more we learn, the more we have to learn, whether is philosophically, economically and in terms of life. I have more that I had 10 years ago why? For now, my culture has expanded exponentially, there is a deep realization of my own ignorance. I have more questions to ask, receive answers and to internalize everything I need in a greater depth, in a society where we so frequently find medriocrity around us, that's the saddest part.

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