It is an intriguing phenomenon: the Portuguese rise outraged, toil outraged all day long, eat, drink and enjoy themselves in an outraged fashion, but they do not go beyond that.
They lack the civic romanticism of aggression.
Socially, we are a pacific community of revolted people.
What if Sebastian had returned? I ask the Painter. What if he had returned and had disappeared again in the midst of our people, restoring us the responsibility of the chaotic and inhospitable scenario we built, the mirror of our inner scenery, and so visible in your painting?
Maybe Sebastian had returned and had disappeared once again, as if he were predetermined to lose himself in battlefields, and live up to one of his many cognomens, “The Sleeping King”, anaesthetised in a world of Disney, Mickey, Scrooge McDuck, unscrupulous and unethical villains and heroes, where we are simultaneously consumers and consumed.
Wandering through Mário Vitória’s new exhibition, we imagine Sebastian returning bewildered and rising to a new throne – one of corporate hierarchy – but now subjugated, waiting for his release. Sebastian, symbol of hope, is imprisoned, engulfing the people who have forgotten their identity and past greatness, subject to the will of foreign powers.
Sebastian, the young man, lacks self-consciousness or is not aware of the trap into which he fell, as is the case of a great part of humanity, lost in the urban networks, webs and vices.
In this scenic/cosmic space, where all intersections are possible, we wander with the Painter in an attempt to witness the miracle that does not take place in this world. The setting is full of characters/actors that act on stage with themselves, whether playing games or frolicking, or fighting to survive in saturated spaces where there is no place for a dignified life; where danger, threat or enslavement are constantly present. And fear, there is always fear.
The Painter knows that hidden in the depths of the contemporary, urban, adapted, shaped and enslaved being by the trinity of the new gods – Success, Power and Money – obedient to the laws of the market, to the mindset of the ruling political classes, within the depths of that man, there is a dream.
A concealed dream no one dares to talk about, whether for fear or for seeming too utopian and naive. However, utopia contains within it the creative force of new individual and collective worlds.
A mirage fuelled by millions of frightened and numbed men and women, awaiting the sequence of an unexpected event, a miracle.
Maybe the Holy Queen – questions the Painter – can reanimate the living dead Sebastian as well as the people, returning him the ideals immersed in the materialistic living; returning him the dream and madness that compel him to move forward without fearing death itself.
Yes, without fear, because we are imprisoned in fear and silence. A dream of liberation from his enslavement, of returning to life, to the timeless days, to his childhood bedroom where it is allowed to dream.
It may be a poetic and philosophical dream, but it is not unachievable; it is a dream where liberation only takes place when we face ourselves and our inner mission.
Sebastian, today a collar-and-tie manager, skilled in numbers and in management agreements, holds within him a young man who feels small when he realises his horizons have shortened, and a grown-up boy who is thrilled with the desire and curiosity of reaching distant worlds, when he is still far from knowing the essential, the true dimension of love.
New plea for the Holy Queen to enter the scene, so she can perform the miracle of rekindling unconditional love where fear and blindness reside. As well as restoring dignity to women, men, children, the elderly, the outcasts, the hungry and feeble. And spreading harmony and awakening lucidity where alienation, audacity as well as fear, and inert and silent indignation reside.
Sebastian is a metaphor for the human circus that hesitantly walks on a thin rope without a safety net, developed in number, in scientific, technological and economic advancement, like a human calculator born with computer programs in the blood but with a narrow awareness of oneself and the other, with a poor spiritual growth, repeating the same mistakes generation after generation as a child inattentive to his Masters.
A humanity as immature as Sebastian, seeking immediate satisfaction of desire, although still in a primitive state with regard to the evolution of an intelligence interconnected with emotions; perhaps the most obscure area that needs to be unravelled.
A humanity that is the holder of minds impregnated with concepts and prejudices, superficial visions, common sexual fantasies, relationships devoid of love.
Show yourself Holy Queen! Answer the call of the Painter and compel Sebastian to face the emptiness of his life – and ours – caught up in deserts where we no longer see invisible wells, or hats that can be elephant eating boa constrictors; where we forget to dream and create bonds, as well as “tame” friends, because, as said by Little Prince’s fox friend, when we want a friend, we have to “tame” them.
Awaken his senses, open his eyes, make him reacknowledge the smell of the trees, listen to the symphony of nature, rediscover its city full of lights.
Awaken him from his lethargy, so he can understand that without developing an inner dimension, life is not fulfilled nor completed; it is a building without foundations.
The Painter awaits, and so do we, for Sebastian to undertake, in an attempt to rediscover life, a fearless expedition to discover himself and the lifeblood that will restore his dignity. Because Sebastian and his people cannot continue to live under fear.
Fear, said O’Neill, is going to have everything
And we will all
Each by their own path
Alexandre O’Neill in Abandono vigiado.
* Holy Queen: Elizabeth the Holy Queen or Queen of Portugal, who was beatified and canonised, and mostly known for the Miracle of the Roses and for her charity to the sick and poor.
** Sebastian: Young King of Portugal who disappeared in action. After his death or disappearance, Portugal came under foreign domination, which led to the legend and belief in the return of King Sebastian to resurrect a heroic past.
(translated by Ana Andrade)
Ana Zanatti, July 2016