Jaime Fernandes, one of the most outstanding names in Portuguese Art Brut/Outsider Art

29 de August, 2023

Started in the 1980s, the Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, on deposit at the Centro de Arte Oliva, includes a large collection of works of Art Brut, one of the most important and extensive private collections in the world, with a large number of recognized authors.


Inspired by the journey started by Jean Dubuffet, a pioneer in collecting these artistic productions, the two collectors have put together a set of works that become accounts of the unconscious and unintentionally take on subversive aspects in the face of the discourse of the norm and the established order.

The exhibition Portreto de la Animo Art Brut Etc., on display at the Soares dos Reis National Museum, is a part of this magnificent collection that brings together a core of works focused on portraits and self-portraits, in confrontation or exhibition dialogue with other pieces from the Museum’s collections.


The portraits painted by these artists reveal an inner figure, a particularly lively creativity and invention, as can be seen, for example, in the works of Aloïse Corbaz, Ted Gordon, James Deed, Edemund Monsiel, Aleksander Lobanov, Alessandra Michelangelo or Jaime Fernandes, one of the most outstanding names in Portuguese Art Brut.


Jaime Fernandes (Portugal, 1899 – 1969)

“Jaime Fernandes is unequivocally the most recognized Portuguese Art Brut/Outsider artist. However, this recognition takes place mainly outside the country, a fact that is explained either by the loss of a large part of his work, or because the remaining majority is scattered in collections abroad.


This obscurity has to do with facts that are not foreign to the circumstances of his isolated life, the way in which he developed his work and how it subsequently circulated: diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1938, Jaime was interned for more than three decades at Miguel Bombarda Hospital (Lisbon), where he would die in 1969.


According to testimonies and references made to the drawings in the hospital’s clinical records, and the letters he wrote to his wife, Jaime Fernandes unexpectedly started drawing at the age of 66, four years before his death.


All of his known work is made up of undated drawings, made with colored ballpoint pens on different types of paper. In them, a reduced form of figures, among which imaginary animals, human or anthropomorphic figures appear and reappear in countless variations, always drawn in a dense web of lines.


The letters, other writings and his drawings were filmed, after his death, by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro, giving rise to the film Jaime (1974), which marked the first public moment of dissemination of the artist’s work.


Recalling the words of António Reis, Jaime Fernandes «had a perfect notion of the space to be occupied by drawing or painting. As he was limited by the small dimensions of the paper, many of his male figures have their arms hanging down or raised, while the animal figures have their tails hanging down. Therefore, the attitudes of the drawing are always a function of the delimitation of the paper, for which he always found a brilliant plastic solution. It is possible that they are also linked to an emotional, obsessive stereotype and to archetypes…»”.


Source: Centro de Arte Oliva