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>> Portrait: Anna Orlikowska
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Iberian Tour:
Lisbon – Porto – Bilbao – Madrid

The Iberian tour in this summer of art leads through the Portuguese capital of Lisbon through the wine city of Porto to Bilbao in Spain with its architectural highlights, coming to a cultural and culinary close in the art metropolis of Madrid.

Torre de Belem, Lisbon
Photo: Apollonio Pierpaolo,

How about taking the night train to Lisbon? This summer, it’s not only readers inspired by Pascal Mercier’s bestseller who may very well decide to take a trip to the Portuguese capital. The city on Europe’s west coast offers connoisseurs an insight into the lively art scene that has developed far from art’s international centers.

Helena Almeida, Seduzir, 2002
Courtesy Galeria Helga de Alvear

Tucked away between the Manuelin Cloisters of the Hieronymites and the picturesque Torre de Belem, the Centro Cultural de Belem introduces one of the most important gallery collections on the Iberian peninsula: Helga de Alvear – Concepts for a Collection presents current positions in photography, video, and installation. Along with works by Marina Abramovic and Gabriel Orozco, the show also focuses on Portuguese art such as José Pedro Croft’s Constructivist installations and the works of the performance artist Helena Almeida and Joana Vasconcelos, who attracted attention at the 2005 Venice Biennale with her nearly five meter-high chandelier made of tampons.

José Pedro Croft, Partial view of the exhibition
at Estudio Helga de Alvear, Madrid, 2004
Courtesy Galeria Helga de Alvear

And how about a little break from the art? In immediate vicinity to the Hieronymite Cloister, the Fábrica dos Pastéis de Belem (founded in 1837) is an absolute must. The cream pâtès in wafer-thin pastry dough, served warm, are good for more than just a temptation and offer a unique taste of the country’s excellent pastries – but beware! They’re addictive.

Paula Rego, The Shakespeare Room, 2005

Surrounded by a large sculpture park, the cool treasure chambers of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian offer visitors refuge from the hot weather outside. Since1983, the Gulbenkian Museum also houses the Centro de Arte Moderna: works by the sculptor and object maker Pedro Cabrita Reis can be seen here, whose installations address cultural memory, as well as the subversive and disturbing paintings of the London-based Paula Rego and the metal sculptures of Rui Chafes, which suggest menacing medieval torture devices.

Santiago Calatrava, Gare do Oriente, Lisbon

Lovers of architecture will be drawn to the open area at the mouth of the Tejo River in the city’s northeast. Two star architects built tributes to their art form here for the Expo ’98: the Spaniard Santiago Calatrava, whose railway station Gare do Oriente resembles a huge dinosaur skeleton with a Futurist inner life, and the Portuguese Alvaro Siza Vieira, whose Portugal Pavilion features a gigantic weight-bearing roof.

Port boats on the river Douro, Porto
Photo: Apollonio Pierpaolo,

In vino veritas! In the city of Oporto, further north of the country, a visit to one of the numerous wine cellars on the banks of the old city center of Ribeira is mandatory. A cool glass of Port can be enjoyed best at the foot of the Dom Luis Bridge, where the famous Port wine boats are anchored.

Casa de Serralves, Porto

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