“Porque acho de extrema importância a preservação das tradições, pois são elas o garante da nossa identidade, com este trabalho tento transmitir a riqueza das máscaras, dando por vezes um cunho inovador nas suas formas.” – “Because I think it is extremely important to preserve traditions, as they are the guarantee of our identity, with this work I try to convey the richness of the [portuguese] masks, sometimes giving an innovative stamp to their forms.” (João Freire)
In the “Caretos” collection, João Freire focuses his eyes and brush on the traditions of northeastern Portugal. Depicting the masked rituals of the villages of Trás-os-Montes, it brings us a sharp and attentive look at the famous Winter cycle ceremonies that feature a strong spectacularity. Focusing here on the Boys’ Party, which are UNESCO Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Freire captures the visual expressiveness of Caretos, with their bizarre costumes colored in coarse wool fabrics, formerly quilts of homemade manufacture. His work also brings us the richness and heterogeneity of masks made of leather, wood, cork or brass leaflets, painted with bright colors, sublimely capturing its representation grotesque that imitates animals such as oxen, goats or snakes. Almost always played by guys, young girls are the target of the caretos’ follies. They are chased on the run disordered and, when grabbed, are rattled, in simulations of a sexual act.
João Freire (J. Freire) was born in 1959 in Benguela, Angola. He graduated in Visual and Technological Education at the Escola Superior de Educação of Bragança and he is professor of painting at the Senior University of Bragança since 2010. Since 1978 he has developed a career in the fine arts and exhibits regularly, having held individual and collective exhibitions in various locations: Gouveia, Manteigas, Vila do Conde, Viana do Castelo, Bragança, Torres Novas, Torre de Moncorvo, Sabrosa, Porto, Vila Real, Vimioso, Figueira da Foz, Salamanca, Lisbon and Peso da Régua. Throughout his career, he received several awards: 1st painting prize at the Viseu Floral Games (1980), 1st prize for painting and a honorable mention in sculpture at the “I and VI Mascararte Biennial” (2013), 1st, 2nd and 3rd painting prizes at the competition “Norcaça, Norpesca and Norcastanha” (2011 – 2019), 3rd prize at the VI International Salon of Art in Small Format 20×20 (2016), 3rd prize at the II biodiversity nature drawing competition, in Vila Real (2015). In 2003 he participated in the literary collection “Imagem Passa a Palavra” of the Identities project, in an artistic exchange with the Cooperative Cultural Gesto and the Faculty of Fine Arts of the Porto University, a partnership with Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola. He is the author of the books “Drawing as a Mediator for the Development of Fine Motricity” (2013) and “Juntos Podemos” (2014) and, since 2013, that collaborates in the illustration of several books by the AJUDARIS association.