PhD Program in Design


A Roadmap to Ecletica

Towards the establishment of reciprocal systems of interpretation and archival of the mental archipelago of Pancho Guedes as a template for the decipherment of art practice and reflexive archiving

José Luís Tavares

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Preservation, archival and divulgence of art work legacies are essential issues within the sphere of modern and contemporary art, particularly in its inscription as cultural heritage. Since the second half of the Twentieth Century, permanent changes and innovations are occurring in art objects, forms, techniques and approaches, and these imply an appropriate and continuous adaptation of archival models, methodologies and practices, especially when considering the always evolving digital framework in which the world is immersed nowadays.

From the late 1940s until today, the artistic practice of architect-sculptor-painter Pancho Guedes happened for the most part between Mozambique, South Africa and Portugal, in multiple fields, assuming diverse postures, constantly crossing directions. It resulted in a heterogeneous and multifaceted prolific output.

This research project intends to establish how an archival system can reflect the artistic work itself. Hence, rather than using generic orientated approaches to archival, it takes on a sample of works of the artist and will study them through filters related to art interpretation, archival science and the artist’s own view on his work and on the development of the research – aiming for a reflexive process. Simultaneously it will look into a set of different perspectives on the artist’s work and life.

The results aim to translate into a set of principles and strategies capable of tracing routes to the fictional archipelago of Eclectica. This mental work of art has been being designed by the artist through many decades as home to all his creations. Therefore it could be taken as the most comprehensive type of archive for his work. To address it within these premises might allow to bring it out of the artist’s mind and make it a tangible place, open and universally accessible.

African art, archival design, artistic practice, Eclectica, modern art, Pancho Guedes, systems design


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