As part of the 54th Worldwide Sketchcrawl, Portuguese Urban Sketchers met in the most international square in Lisboa to join and sketch the Chinese New Year celebrations. There is no formal Chinatown in Lisboa, as opposed to many other cities in the western world where the Sketchcrawl will take place. But the Martim Moniz square is doubtlessly where the Chinese community is most present in the country. What stops it from becoming a proper Chinatown is that many more immigrant communities share the square as a hub, and they all add to the cultural mosaic that Martim Moniz is today.
Como parte do 54º Sketchcrawl mundial, os Urban Sketchers portugueses encontraram-se na praça mais internacional de Lisboa para se juntarem e desenharem a celebração do ano novo Chinês. Não há uma Chinatown formalizada em Lisboa, ao contrário de muitas outras cidades no mundo ocidental onde o Sketchcrawl irá ter lugar. Mas o Martim Moniz é, sem dúvida, o lugar no país onde a comunidade Chinesa está mais presente. O que o impede de ser uma Chinatown é que muitas outras comunidades de imigrantes partilham a praça como um centro e todos se acrescentam ao mosaico cultural que o Martim Moniz é hoje.
The public celebrations were held a week before the actual New Year (which fell on the 28th of January) to allow some quiet family time for the Chinese community in the following weekend. In the central stage, several Chinese school classes came to showcase their dancing and musical talents. One of the girls in full costume and make-up – Yanchi – even gave me her autograph on the sketchbook, beside her portrait, while all around, a marketplace spread across half the square, selling arts and crafts and representing businesses and commerce chambers. Unfortunately, the parade had happened the day before.
As festividades públicas tiveram lugar uma semana antes do novo ano propriamente dito (que calhou a 28 de Janeiro) para deixar essa data para o convívio famimiar da comunidade Chinesa. No palco central, várias turmas de escolas Chinesas vieram mostrar os seus talentos musicais e de dança. Uma das pequenas dançarinas, ainda vestida e maquilhada a rigor – Yanchi – ainda me deu o seu autógrafo no caderno, ao lado do seu retrato, enquanto à volta espalhava-se um mercado sobre metade da praça, com venda de artesanato e peças tradicionais Chinesas e representações de negociantes e associações comerciais. Infelizmente, a parada do dragão já havia acontecido no dia anterior.
One of the sites that changed the most since Roque Gameiro illustrated it is the Largo da Saúde. A century ago, it was a small square, right in front of the Capelinha da Senhora da Saúde tucked away between rows of buildings along the Rua da Mouraria, a way out of the north of the city. Now, the cozy square is mostly lost to the wider Martim Moniz square, with its modern glass and concrete buildings of the post-modern era. The narrow Rua da Mouraria remains as a frontier between old and new.
(to be continued)
Um dos locais que mais mudou desde que o Roque Gameiro o desenhou foi o Largo da Saúde. Há um século atrás, era um pequeno largo, mesmo em frente da Capelinha da Senhora da Saúde, encaixada entre fileiras de edifícios ao longo da Rua da Mouraria, uma das saídas da cidade velha em direcção ao norte. Hoje em dia, o aconchegado largo perdeu-se para o gigante largo do Martim Moniz, com os seus edifícios de betão e vidro da era pós-moderna. A estreita Rua da Mouraria permanece uma fronteira entre o velho e o novo.
The june session of Desenho Cru didn’t have performers. Or better still, the sketchers present acted as performers, each posing for ten minutes for their counterparts. Each had to bring an object and pose with it, but only a couple of tonight’s performers had actually brought them.
The warm summery spring night favored an outdoors session, in the nice patio that the studio has just outside the usual sketching room.
Keeping the colors right was a challenge, because of the outdoor lights. The yellows and greens tended to vanish under them. The sketching itch had to be fully scratched on the subway back home. In the summer, there are people riding the subway right until it closes at 1am.
A room full of sketchers eagerly awaited the two performers of the Desenho Cru session of March. Some of them had heard that they were in for a special surprise. Warm up took some time as one of the performers couldn’t make it. A substitute had to be found.
Viktorija came to the rescue. The make-up artist from Lithuania turned into her own model and demonstrated on herself the transformation of make-up. She showed the long process women go through privately or in pairs, in bathrooms, languidly and meticulously, sipping red wine and enhancing her red lips, in front of 20-something sketchers. All the while, in the backstage, a different make-up strategy was taking place.
Suddenly, and after headlamps were distributed, the lights were out! A chilling, shrieking, spooky song started in the background. A horned silhouette approach from the outside. It came to the center of the stage, dark robes absorbed all the light. Its red eyes gleamed as the demonic figure threatened to impale all of the sketchers to their seats with a blood-stained pike. Pens and pencils were in awe of the imposing and macabre visage of Kina Karvel, demon-performer of the night.
After the music was over, suspension of disbelief was broken, as the demon started speaking in an unexpectedly high-pitched voice, and proceeded to strike a few poses during the following hour or so.
It was some impressing minutes, those of Kina Karvel’s performance. Hard to picture them in a sketchbook.
In 2012, Desenho Cru was created as a one-night monthly gathering of artists and performers, in the unusual stage of a gay bar in the heart of Lisboa. It was actually named after the bar. The drill is simple: the performers perform, and the artists sketch them. Creative spirits in both sides of the (imaginary) fence are free to deliver their own art in whatever form they feel is best.
Now, the Desenho Cru sessions are held in a small studio in Martim Moniz, another heart of Lisboa – the multi-hearted city. I attended my first Desenho cru in the beginning of february, weeks after coming back to Lisboa. It’s a fantastic group experience, where concentration levels are high, but everything feels somewhat different from a regular sketch meeting.
The intimacy of the moment is enhanced firstly by the narrowness of the space, where fifteen to twenty people elbowed each other for some arm movement space. If more were to come, they would have to sit on the floor.
Secondly by the unusual nature of the performances – and those are entirely dependent on the performers themselves – it’s an artistic lottery. You get what they bring for you. First-time performer Veronique, tense at first, on account of the thirty-something eyeballs on her, finally let herself and some garments go, and played around with postures and the mirror she had leaned up against the wall. I’d say she managed quite well.
The andalucian José Gomez brought his guitar and some electronic equipment that, for some reason, started to fail him right in the middle of his act. The gadget recorded a sample that he would play, and then it would playback on a loop, while he added some more samples to the texture of the song. A one man band, fretted unfortunately by faulty equipment.