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'Happy Consumption' midst Portuguese recession

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'Happy Consumption' midst Portuguese recession

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Against a backdrop of 18% unemployment levels and widespread civil anger at the latest set of proposed public cuts, Portugal’s Berardo Museum has a new, provocative, exhibition.

Presenting over 350 works from their renown collection of advertising art, the ‘Happy Consumption’ exhibition brings together exclusive original hand-painted advertising pieces, offering a detailed examination of the phenomenon of publicity marketing and the excess it encourages.

For the director of the museum, Pedro Lapa, the exhibition is an opportunity to explore why advertising is so powerful whilst also appreciating the different styles of art it seeks to harness: “Many aspects are evoked to explain how to organize and compose a promotional image. You can see the impact of many different trends throughout the art here – constructivism, surrealist cores, or sometimes more obviously, pop-art influences.”

Most of the exhibition’s posters range from the 1930s to the 1970s, during a period of dictatorship in Portugal when people were said to be able to withstand anything, so long as they had football, fado and the Virgin of Fátima.

That belief was promptly shattered with the revolt and overthrowing of the Salazar regime in 1974 and today, outside the gallery, the mood feels equally unforgiving. And not least of the consumerist society the exhibition memorializes.

‘Happy Consumption’ runs until October 2013.

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