A Look at the Portuguese World

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Antiquities stories

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For Rui Afonso Santos, in the preface he writes about his friend, these chronicles of adventures and complicities are delicious, because "with extraordinary delight and pleasure we read these narrations, through which Anisio Franco affirms his strength as historian and adventurer, pioneer of new histographic paths ".

As a rule, when I interview an author of a book I do not take quotes from the texts, but to arise your curiosity about this author and the wonderful and at the same time hilarious stories he has to tell and which I had the pleasure of hearing in another talk on "Dar a Ver" I will highlight two chronicles, the first one, titled, "my mustache" ... "I barely saw her, leaning against the stairs, I swore she would be mine, even with her husband next ot her. But who was she, the brave lady with the unfriendly face and a muscled in the upper lip? "

"The idol"... "An agent of the Republican National Guard presented himself to the president of the Agricultural Cooperative Unid of Manços. With the question about the whereabouts of the Roman sculpture, they answered another: The Saint Antoninho? Things went soured when the idol was reclaimed again. "

I wonder how many years have you made this collection of portraits?
Anísio Franco: This specifically, because collecting began much earlier, was probably focused on 1988, when I had the possibility to buy and acquire pieces of art. At first it was not a collection, it was something I thought was funny, it had to do with what I studied, the portraiture, the portraits and royal series, and then I bought one painting and it became something very serious.

And in total do you have how many portraits?
AF: About 300 portraits, paintings of the ugly, beautiful, tall, thin people, what matters to me is the human figure. There is a humanistic content in this collection, I am interested in preserving the memory of those people. However, they were forgotten and more had the desire for someone to preserve them, a will that was not respected.

Have you been able to find out all the stories in your paintings?
AF: No, I'm glad I did not. I do not like portraits because I know who is represented. I prefer the challenge, it has to do with my art history training. The style and true story of the paintings I bought is what less interest me, for example, I have a painting in the room that I know everything, the name of the author, the painter, who made the frame, the canvas, everything and I only think it is decorative. For me the most important is always the challenge and I'm glad there are many whom I know nothing, because I still have a lot to work and study.

Have you ever wondered why you love this specific artistic area so much?
AF: Yes, already, because I like human beings. It's a humanist question. The people portrayed lived, had their problems, their idiosyncrasies, like that woman with the mustache. I am interested in the respect I have for humanity.

Of all these portraits that he found, was there anyone who had discovered that it was an artistic treasure, not in terms of the person itself, but of the author of the painting?
AF: Yes, of course. I already had pictures that I thought was one thing and after all it was something better. But that is the aspect that least interests me, definitely. Even because I do not want to change them for money, the fact that people think it's wonderful, because it's an artist with a certain value in the market, I'm not particularly enthusiastic about at all. What I care about is good or bad, and there are not many bad pictures for a very simple matter, nobody likes to be poorly portrayed and the painter was always in front of the picture, it is who is there.

Is there a picture of the many who you do not know the true stories and do not include the ones you invents for some of his portraits with which you are obsessed of discovering?
AF: There are some, the question is that over time the true stories are appearing, at least I hope, as I tale in the book, as when I found an engraving where one of my people was portrayed.

How did you make the selection for this book "Antiquities stories"?
AF: It was very difficult, because I had written many stories over the years, more in two magazines about art, "Arte Ibérica" and "L + Arte". Then I did a thematic selection, one about the portraits, another finally about art objects, it was not something that would have been easy for me because there were many other stories to publish and the editorial conditions were not really loose, so I had to reduce and I have to choose the most exciting, the most fun.

The ones you have not published in a book, have you considered using them for other publications?
AF: Yes, already, but in the meantime, everything goes through the editorial issue of this moment. In Portugal, contrary to what happened a few years ago, the author imposed what he intended to publish and now the public is in charge of what they wants to buy and the publishers live of that. Then there are other areas more interesting for readers, such as this tourist spot, I have the " A walk thru Lisbon" and this editorial aspect is much more appealing to the market.

And what do you plan to do with all your portraits when you grow old?
AF: It's one of the issues that worries me, but the collections have to be preserved. Well, I thought they could go to the Lagos museum, for example. (laughs)

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