I will never forget that day
in 1978, when a young Macanese came into my Gulbenkian Foundation
Administrator's office, called António Conceição Júnior, who asked to be
received as the curator of the Luís de Camões Museum of Macau. Apparently
it was one more of those interviews that my position as Administrator for
Fine Arts obliged me to: someone who was coming to ask for a subsidy,
But it was nothing of the kind. The young man came to present and propose
a much more demanding project; nothing more or less than the organization
in the Gulbenkian Foundation of a
Forthnight that would reveal to Portugal, not only the art
collections of the Museu (described as precious), but, more generally a
culture and a history that the country was ignorant of because it had been
For a long time I asked myself what kind of a miracle may have led me to
adhere immediately to such an idea that, in normal conditions, I would
have faced with the snobism of defensive routine. I see today that the
enthusiastic authenticity of my visitor made something inside me vibrate
the signal that it was something very ambitious, without doubt, but of
incomparable importance. And in such a way did he convinced me that,
following a very unusual procedure, I myself proposed to the President of
the Foundation, Dr. Azeredo Perdigão, that he would receive the visitor.
We both went to see him, and António Conceição Júnior thrilled the
President as much as he seduced me.
The fact is that, some months later, Dr. Perdigão and myself visited Macau
and we verified in loco the richness that was an obligation to reveal. And
the Macau Forthnight took place with great success - a success in great
part due to the exceptional organizational capacity of that young idealist
and achiever - giving birth to the support of the Foundation to the
renovation of the Luís de Camões Museum.
This is, so to speak, the narration of the start of an important and
fruitful institutional relationship - but this institutional relationship
came to be more, much more than this. Because from that interview I had
with António Conceição Júnior in an imprecise day of 1978, a friendship of
more than thirty years that was and is, for me, a motive of renewed
happiness, coupled with an admiration always added by his personal
qualities and by his incomparable and multifaceted artistic talents.
In succession, after having known him as a tireless, dynamic and
impeccable organizer of the Macau Forthnight, I started to discover
through the years his surprising artistic skills.
Little by little and also unexpectedly, the painter, the photographer, the
designer of fashion, of medallions, of graphic design, of various things;
it was revealed to me the man of imagination and of culture that he is.
And it was the cumplicity friendship blended with an ever increasing
admiration, that led me to, sometimes write about him. But I am perfectly
conscious that never - neither with the past texts or in this one that I
leave here - was fully expressed my admiration, my friendship, my