Serralves Museum Redefines Art Viewing in New Álvaro Siza Wing

“The Serralves building has no facade… Instead, it allows people to walk freely into the museum and define their own experiences.”

Art
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Álvaro Siza, a renowned architect, holds a profound belief that architects do not merely invent but instead reshape reality. Throughout his illustrious six-decade career, Siza has masterfully blended local customs with global design trends, resulting in architecturally eloquent yet technologically advanced structures that seamlessly harmonize with their surrounding environments.

Siza’s philosophy resonates deeply in his recent project, the Álvaro Siza Wing, an extension of the Serralves Museum in Porto, Portugal. This new addition, characterized by its absence of traditional grand entrances, embraces a facade-less approach, inviting visitors to explore the space freely. Philippe Vergne, Director of Serralves Museum, highlights this departure from convention, noting, “The Serralves building has no facade… Instead, it allows people to walk freely into the museum and define their own experiences.”

Internally, the Álvaro Siza Wing continues to manifest Siza’s disruptive ethos with its geometric layout and innovative use of materials. Utilizing elements such as reinforced concrete, cork insulation, white plasterboard, and geometric ceiling panels, the interior space not only enhances the displayed artworks but also creates an atmosphere conducive to contemplation and engagement. Portuguese artist Luisa Cunha produced a sound work specifically for the new building which is also the first work that museum-goers will encounter when they walk into the new wing.

“The new wing maintains a perfect relationship with the facade-less building complex” — Philippe Vergne

By providing dedicated spaces for exhibitions and archives, the Álvaro Siza Wing ensures a comprehensive presentation of the Serralves Foundation’s collections. Ana Pinho, CEO of the foundation, expresses her sentiments, saying, “This museum deserved to overcome the limitations of space… This building represents a new milestone for Serralves.”

The inaugural exhibitions within the Álvaro Siza Wing, particularly Improbable Anagrams and C.A.S.A., serve as compelling examples of the symbiotic relationship between Siza’s architecture and the exhibited artworks. Curators (Marta Almeida, Isabel Braga, Inês Grosso, Ricardo Nicolau, Joana Valsassina and Philippe Vergne) note that the show challenges conventional exhibition formats, fostering unexpected connections between artworks and inviting visitors to explore new perspectives.

Furthermore, the exhibit explores unexpected connections between artworks from different generations and countries, challenging preconceived notions about the Serralves Collection. It takes its name from the figurative anagram, reflecting the diverse possibilities for interpretation within the exhibition. Additionally, it pays homage to Portuguese artists who pioneered experimental poetry, shaping contemporary expression in Portuguese art.

Improbable Anagrams reflects on the historical significance of the Serralves Collection and its influence on artistic movements of the past. It features works by both young and established artists juxtaposing historical pieces with contemporary creations to offer fresh perspectives on common themes and concerns. Works by Martine Syms, Arthur Jafa, Lourdes Castro, Joan Jonas, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Juliana Huxtable among many notable artists are highlighted in this ongoing show.

Altogether, the exhibit aims to stimulate viewers’ minds, much like an anagram game, by presenting a diverse selection of artworks that encourage thought and interpretation. this new building offers a different experience, with smaller galleries that allow visitors to view multiple rooms at once, breaking away from traditional exhibition formats. Through these exhibitions and the innovative design of the Álvaro Siza Wing, the Serralves Museum continues to evolve as a dynamic cultural space, inviting visitors to engage with art in fresh and meaningful ways, thereby enriching the cultural landscape of Porto and beyond.

Head to the Serralves Museum’s website for more information.

Serralves Museum
R. Dom João de Castro 210
Porto 4150-417
Portugal

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