From The Madeira Island Web Site

A Passion for Colour
By Jorge Barbosa
Jun 7, 2008 - 2:33:05 PM

Portrait of Joao Carlos Abreu
A meeting with the Artist.

It was with some trepidation that I accepted the invitation of a friend of mine to join him in a meeting with another old friend of his on a glorious Madeira February afternoon. The somewhat formal encounter was to be a quick rush to the senses. Firstly, as I had not associated the name of his friend, Joćo Carlos, to the Secretary of Tourism, and secondly when I was welcomed into the Secretary's office to be overwhelmed by a sea of colour splashed across the walls. I was enchanted. Bewitched by the paintings before me. Like the hungry sailor who sees dry land after months at sea. I could not help noticing the resplendent use of red on one particular painting, mounted next to the only candelabrum in the room, and remarking immediately that that is the one I wanted to buy.

"It's not for sale", replied the Tourism Secretary. "They will be hanging in a New York exhibition next month. Many people have offered to buy these works. But I cannot sell them". The look on his face as a father to his children.
I felt embarrassed.
I had immediately translated the mounted works of art into their commercial value.
My first mistake.

The meeting continued and tumbled through various tourism issues, art chat and friendly banter. Through consultation of other issues with other members of staff in the tourism offices and then back to the possible meaning in some of the paintings. We spoke about the possible connotations of the content or subject matter of the paintings, and why Joćo Carlos had not given most of the paintings any titles. My second mistake.

Detail of one of the many untitled paintings
Joćo Carlos deftly guided me to understand, to find in my own way, that these could not be given names, or positions, like placemats on a table. They were continuous self-absorbing and self-regurgitating works. A contingent mass of colour and feelings that vibrate into change whenever it pleases them. Never held back by the redundant concept of fixtures or solid objects in the physique of the piece of art. These living evolving organisms changed according to the mood of the spectator. To the casual observer they may be the type of paintings that "bristles in the highlight of the afternoon sun", or that sing "lamentful tunes in the darkening evening light", or any other lame cliché of the day. To the pensive spectator, however, these were not objects or moods or feelings that could be named. Pointed at, or declaimed. No. These paintings belonged to a realm that if you looked closely enough and proffered some self-introspection you would have guessed yourself in them ! And it is this interaction of looking at yourself, introspectively, in that strange way with each of Joćo Carlos Abreu's paintings that makes you jolt. This is the talent of a great artist. To shock you from your diurnal routine, and to mesmerise you to look at those things inside of you mirrored in the colours before you.
To show you ultimately that the artist is just like you. Or that you are just like him.

Untitled #4
Joćo Carlos Abreu : a short biography.

Born in 1935 Joćo Carlos Abreu attended courses in both accounting and economics at the Funchal " Escola Industrial e Comercial", he continued these disciplines at the tertiary institution " Instituto Jofre Ramalho".

At the age of 27 Joćo Carlos Abreu was admitted into the " Concilio Ecuménico" - the printing and media services of the Vatican in Rome, Italy, as a journalist. His status as a professional journalist was awarded by the same Vatican service in a certificate (nŗ 399) during his work there. He continued his media studies by attending the " Curso Superior de Jornalismo" at the Pro-Deo (The tertiary educational institution also known as the " Instituto Superior de Estudos Sociais") where he achieved "Honours" status for his studies.

Untitled #10
In 1963 Joćo Carlos Abreu participated as a member of the International Symposium for the Catholic Press in Rome. It was also in and around this time that he worked for the first time in the hospitality and tourism services industry: for 10 months at the Hotel Braklesham Bay in England.

He later became the assistant to the General Director of the "Madeira Sheraton Hotel" in Funchal. He also performed the function of Director of Public Relations and teacher of Public Relations at the " Escola Hotelaria da Madeira" - (Madeira Hotel School).

His passion for study soon found himself as a student at the "CIEST": studying a course in the renovation and recycling of animation events at the Glion International Institute.

In 1965 the "Star/American Express" Travel Agency opened in Funchal and Joćo Carlos Abreu was invited as a working partner or " Membro-Colaborador". In 1968 he leaves Funchal to study in Bolzano, Italy. It is here that he undergoes an intensive course in the Management of Business Corporations, whereafter he completes a thesis on the Dutch flower markets during a stay in the Netherlands.

In 1971 he is posted as the Director of the Hotel Lido Sol, and remains the General Director until 1972.

For 40 years Joćo Carlos Abreu has undertaken many journeys across far and distant lands. Studying and discovering many themes for the many different articles travelogues that he wrote during and after his travels.

"Porta Aberta" - one of several publications by the artist
Biography of Joćo Carlos Abreu (Continued)

His many published works include the following poetry and prose collections:

  • Sobre o voo da gaivota
  • Da Ilha & De Mim
  • Įgua no Mar
  • Porta Aberta
  • Ilha a Duas Vozes (with Maria Aurora)
  • Turismo das Culturas (prose)
  • Carta aos autarcas da minha terra (prose)
  • Dos Deuses ao Turismo dos nossos dias (prose)
  • Dona Joana Rabo de Peixe (prose)

"Agua do Mar" - a publication by the artist
Amongst many awards and other merits offered the following stand out:

  • the " Timone de Ouro"
  • an achievement award accompanied by the Recognition Award of the (Sheraton) Management Corporation
  • the Pontificate Medal - Pope Paul VI
  • President's Award - (Sheraton Corporation)
  • Personality of the year 1996 - Tourism (Awarded by the regional government of Madeira)
  • " Os mais de 89" award (1989)
  • "Personality of the year" (1981) - awarded by the prestigious Travel Magazine " Portugal - Turismo & Actualidade".
Joćo Carlos Abreu has also commanded important positions in the local Regional Government's offices for Culture and Tourism (" Direcēćo Regional do Turismo da Madeira"), including holding positions as the Director of Events, Shows, and Animation for the Tourist Office, as Emigration Secretary, and now as the Secretary for Tourism and Culture in Madeira. A position which he has held since 1984.

Amongst some of his notable official work includes the creation of the "Cultural Tours of Europe" programme as an official member of the responsible commission for this project. He was awarded the "Liderman" trophy for this work in 1989. Related to this work he was also to receive awards such as the "Capri Trophy" (1991), Honours and Merit of the Brazilian Association of Hotels ( Honra e Mérito da Associaēćo Brasileira de Hoteis).

As an artist in his own right Joćo Carlos Abreu has participated and been member of many different cultural and social programmes locally, nationally, and internationally. Including being nominated a member of the Pen Club International in Canada, and as a participant in the 1997 Congress of Writers in Edinburgh, Scotland.

As a poet and writer he has been invited many times to participate in speeches and events all across Europe. Moreover, he was one of a select few of Portuguese writers to proffer a passage of text in the book "A David" - as a Portuguese publication paying homage to the figure of the great Portuguese writer.

Joćo Carlos Abreu continues to live and stay in Funchal, Madeira.

Gallery of images:

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