Manuel Amado | An Extraordinary Ordinariness

Curated by Paula Rego and Catarina Alfaro- The Summer Was Just Like A House To Live In, Where Everything Is… Casa das Historías, Cascais Portugal

One of the best things about Art and certain artists is their ability to interprete the ordinary and make it a little less so. The more successful ones do it with light, catch light and draw it to a point of focus or to cascade an entire room so it gives a depth of field to beyond the painting. Manuel Amado is one of those artists, but even more spectacular than his use of light is his play with the shadows and what lies within and beyond. If you have a chance to see his works, do so without hesitation. I did at the Paula Rego museum in Cascais in Portugal years back and it is one that constantly stays.


There is power in simplicity and Amado’s works reinforces this. Each of these oil paintings convey a vivid simplicity that almost at once reveals a fullness of life even in the blandest of settings. Drawing light to sight of what is invisible, casting shadows to the visible but having a convergence of symmetry that elevates even the simplest of things; a hair brush on the table, a baskets in the corner, a curtain caught flowing in the wind. These are ordinary everyday moments we rarely think of but Amado captures ever so slightly.

His ability to take our eyes beyond with the landscape outside a window or making us wonder what lies outside of sight. Putting stories to lives we do not see in these paintings.


Be there for the story because it is always about the story projected in each image because a thousand lives are lived within the confines. The norm is slanted hence inviting the observer to project their own narratives onto it. A frazzled theatre director awaiting his cast for rehearsal before the doors open. What dramatics are set to unfold in an otherwise perfect setting. Between the blue curtains is a small door drawing in the light amidst the dark

Amado’s works is in tandem with a growing mystique that at first can be simply visualised but therein lies his talent for creating mystery and intrigue. The ball whilst being the main draw of the painting below is a co-star to the dresser which is even less of a star when you consider the vanity atop not unlike our everyday. But we cannot resist the urge to peer a little closer is there a mirror just outside the frame? He pulls farther and further in with his concept of colours outside the door; the sky, the sea, the veranda, patterns of the curtains so neatly drawn to the side. In its stillness there is life. Back to the ball; it feels left by a child who has abandoned it in search of other more fun things to occupy their time… did the ball just move? Who knows.

Everything that is visible in the living room is a mirror image of most of our lives but look closer the picture reflected in the mirror, the clock signifying time, even in a painting, goes by. What conversations are had here. The leaves that feel like they are rustling outside in the gentle breeze on a summer’s day. This is not a creation of something new, it is an interpretation of what is; merging of elements of the mundane and quiet to create a narrative that can be as specific as we want it to be or as vague. It give us permission to see beyond, go beyond and imagine beyond that. Or stay in the moment and let it all unfold. Art is subjective like that.