A TRANQUILE STRENGHT

I do not know the way to defeat others, but the way to defeat myself.
Master Yagyü. Kendo Sensei to the Tokugawa Shogun

From where came - or better saying - how did Antonio Conceição Junior’s creativity blossomed?

From his Macanese infancy, branded by the incurable melancholy of the early loss of a beautiful and mythic Mother? And the slow learning of an inner solitude? Why do some beings are born predestined for art to such an extent that this inclination becomes as natural as breathing?

Who lovingly kept Antonio’s first drawings? Who nurtured his dreams and exorcised his fears? Who, in the dark attic where children dream drew windows of clarity?

To find a path and follow it, gathering the most various instruments and learning to handle them with mastery and rigor, reaching the discovery of beauty in its prodigious simplicity. This is how I define the coherence of the work with the personality of its author.

According to Homer, the artist learns from Hefestus and Palas Athenea the secrets of Knowing How to Do, one of the noblest sides of wisdom. Thought and action blended in an active knowledge, Techne and Ars: a prodigy that orchestrated life styles through millenniums, and created imperishable aesthetical forms.

We know that Antonio built his elaborated gardens and towers in a floating Territory, over the sacred contiguity of civilisations, taking the colour and vibrations of uncountable testimonies of human spirituality: frescoes, canvases, ceramics, silks, bronzes, writings, melodies, creeds and ways, eternal weapons and ephemeral flowers.

From the borders of the Mediterranean World to the Seas of the South of China, there, where man marvelled over the result of the Encounter of a Dream with a pair of Hands, Antonio discovered Shape, Matter and the Light that sheds the Senses. In his inner pilgrimage he has been illustrator and painter, sculptor and calligrapher, minstrel and choreographer, scenographer and fashion designer, photographer, museographer and graphic designer, Aikidoist and cybernaut. Accepting the challenge of each Art, in which unique nature he looks for what cannot be found in the others - eternal alliance of the creative with the artistic proposals of his time. And if Antonio passed continuously from one frame to another, he has walked under the sign of rigor. It is so rare that one single man can make this sensorial journey through such different matters!

How not to invoke the magic of his models of haute couture? Ancient stories told by sumptuous colours, ochre’s of sands, a bronze of ancient vessels, cinnabars and burnt sienna’s from the residues of lost worlds.

In the surprising group of sculptures called Assemblages, a manifest minimalism hides (or reveals) the seduction of Japan, in the silent identity of the “object per se”, taken away from utilitarism by a tranquil power.

In Antonio, the cultural shock was ploughed ground, seed and condiment, fire and sap of a cornfield with no boundaries.

To create the way one exists. “The human being must be an overflow of vitality,” says “Hagakure”.

November in Macau: a fresh breeze smoothes the waters of the Pearl Delta. Under the remaining fig trees intertwined in the urban tissue, there are still children at play. In the silence of his studio Antonio persists calmly in his labour, changing the piece of magnolia wood in a sheath of a sabre of pure lines and satin-like touch. I am glad Antonio. Every object you touch acquires a new dignity.

Macau, November 24, 2000

Fernanda Dias
Writer and Poetress