Carpets so vivid they could be paintings

news: Carpets so vivid they could be paintings

The exhibition, entitled ‘Material and Colour – Portalegre Tapestries’, displays around 30 of the vividly-coloured carpets, ranging from abstract pieces suitable for hanging in an office or living room, to huge triptych designs of Portuguese caravels and other sailing ships inspired by the age of the Discoveries.

Many of the famous Alentejano tapestries have been borrowed from the Guy Fino Portalegre Tapestry Museum, which was opened in November 2001.

The art of tapestry-making in Portalegre has a long history that dates back to the 18th century when the town housed the Royal Tapestry Workshops (Fábrica Real).

The industry fell into decline in the 20th century until Manuel Celstino Peixeiro and partner Guy Fino founded the company Portalegre Carpets in 1946, with the intention of re-establishing the ancient carpet-making industry.

Today’s successful and booming business, which sees the carpets being sold all over the world, has hit some controversies in the past. The move to call Portalegre’s Museum after Guy Fino proved controversial after locals complained that Guy Fino ran up debts with the government that were never repaid, while the contributions of the original founding family – the Peixeiros – had been swept under the carpet.

What makes the carpets so special is not only their monumental quality but their eye-catching vivid use of colour and attention to fine detail which make them seem alive and like oil paintings.

This particular exhibition has pieces by renowned artists such as Guilherme Camarinha, Correia Rebocho, Le Corbusier, José de Guimarães, Graça Morais, Almada Negreiros and Costa Pinheiro, among others.

Barbosa said: “It’s an enormous pleasure to have this exhibition in this historic building. It represents a tradition of wool carpet weaving that stretches back to the times of the Marquês de Pombal, which today has evolved into a different art form with links to so many great Portuguese artists and painters.”

The exhibition will run at the Castelo de São Jorge until August 31 and is open to the public between 9am and 9pm. For further information Tel 218 875 695. Chris Graeme