MULTICULTURE AND TIME
Luís Luciano Demée is the most important visual artist born
This statement is not an eulogy because
that would be redundant. It merely issues from the simple
acknowledgement of an undeniable fact.
Luís Demée is, also, one of the most important Portuguese
painters of his generation, a man who chose the way of reservation,
and discretion to express himself, avoiding the all too
easy limelight, which he always regarded
I had the opportunity of knowing Luís Demée and living
closely and intensely with him, in the
1970s, when the artist spent a period of two years in his hometown.
That period, now more than three decades ago, was the foundation of
a friendship and respect for the illustrious figure of the Man and
of the Artist that were rekindled with natural ease following an
homage exhibition organised by the then Luís de Camões Museum in
By the end of the 1960s, at his father’s house, I had seen
extraordinary water colours painted by Luís Demée, which already
challenged those of master
in quality, at the time when this young man was not older than 16.
To analyze the work of Luís Demée is, for those who may be
acquainted with his first steps, to understand the true essence of
Macau: the multicultural dimension that is inherent to the city and
remains ever at its core, and that its artists know how to interpret
from the standpoint of their own individuality.
Since the 19th century, Macau has had a lineage of artists that
portrayed it, and its different aspects, in terms of graphic
narrative: Auguste Borget, George Chinnery, Thomas Boswall Watson
and Marciano Baptista in the 19th century; and George Smirnoff, Luís
Demée, Herculano Estorninho, Kam Cheong Leng, Tam Chi Sang, Kwok Si,
Lio Man Cheong, Lai Ieng, Chan Kai Chon, and Guilherme Ung Vai Meng
from the 20th century to the present.
Within this narrative context, it is entirely possible to identify
the overwhelming preference shown by Luís Demée for the
marine themes of Macau. The choice of this exhibition’s title may,
therefore, be inferred from that very preference.
The perfectly preserved collection, now being displayed for the
first time, is over fifty years old.
Made by an adolescent, the 91 works in the exhibition prove beyond
any doubt the enormous talent exuding from the young Luís Demée.
However, this exhibition is obviously not concerned solely with
By working mainly on the marine landscape of Macau, the artist
reveals, on the one hand, complete independence of his master and
friend, George Smirnoff, and, on the other hand, he shows a
skill that exists exceptionally in precocious and overly gifted
The precocious evolution in capacity of an author who worked in a
quiet city in the South of China, and whose later works irrefutably
announce a permanent artistic research in a confined geographical
space where, at the time, information was a scarce commodity, is a
detail that should be brought to light here, in the global reading
of this remarkable collection.
Looking at the works in this collection, it is not hard to
understand that we are standing before a painter, someone who paints
because such is his calling, because such is his intuition and vital
need for expressing himself. In the specific case of Luís Demée’s
work, this points towards an essential pictorial quality, in the
sense of the essentiality of the language that belongs to the noble
art of painting.
For the full comprehension of Luís Demée’s work, it is also
important to stress that the artist is still producing works of the
highest quality imbued with such craftsmanship – now even more
refined than ever – that I feel I should emphasize this essential
characteristic of the artist, and his full commitment to the
laborious craft of painting.
In historical and documental terms, this is an exhibition of an
enormous heritage value for Macau, being, at the same time, the
point of departure for the understanding of the whole opus of
Luís Luciano Demée’s, who has settled in the city of Oporto
for several decades now.
In fact, the sea of Macau and a certain ambiance in the current
paintings of Luís Demée revisit the multicultural dimension
at the heart of Macau, denoting that time, even when diluted in the
distance of decades, remains in the consciousness and intrinsic
memories of authors whose artistic conception cannot be separated
from his identity as shaped by an existence that was led in plural
geographical spaces and that expresses itself beyond fashion or the
increasingly volatile artistic trends, the contemporariness of which
issues from the ephemeral status as dictated by the laws of the art
For all these reasons – the works now exhibited before the public of
Macau, in their first presentation to the world – and for its
intrinsic artistic and documental value, this exhibition arises from
the hazy altar of time to testify about a period of Macau, and about
an artist whose qualities are unquestionable.
António Conceição Júnior