Jorge Colaço was not always a tile painter. His vast career has spread through drawing, interior decoration, painting and caricature, areas where he left an original and even disconcerting production, unfairly little known.
Jorge Rey Colaço was born in Tangier, Marocco in 1868. Son of a writer and diplomat, he had the privilege to study art in Lisbon, Madrid and in 1886 he went to study in Paris.
At the age of 18 Colaço now in Paris, was studying under the guidance of Fernand Cormon, who in fact was in charge of other Portuguese painting students. Still in the French capital, he worked as a caricaturist for Le Figaro. A vein that would follow on his return to Portugal, where he directed the humorous section of O Século.
In 1902, he met James Gilman, a partner at Fábrica de Sacavém and, in 1905, he opened his first workshop dedicated to tile painting, at Rua D. Pedro V, in a building whose facade still has a panel signed by him.
Jorge Colaço - like others - went for inspiration to literary sources, like Os Lusíadas, obviously, to Alexandre Herculano, to Fernão Lopes.
In a short time, Jorge Colaço became a reference in Portuguese art, and it is fair to say that he owes the renovation of the national tile production, in ways that would be integrated and expanded by the ideas of the Estado Novo. He worked at the Sacavém Factory until 1923, a year in which, due to a disagreement with Ralph Gilman (son of James), he moved to Fábrica Lusitânia, where he also had an independent studio.
Until 1942, the year of his death, Colaço explored different dimensions of the tile, refining the cooking technique (to better fix the pigments), or painting even over a superficial glaze, but cultivating the drawing as the primary material of the creative process.
What inspired Colaço the most to create his works? From the historical point of view, the main iconographic source for the tile is the engraving. At this time, printmaking is replaced by photography, photographs that circulated in magazines such as Illustração Portugueza, or even single, and that served as the basis for the painters' work.
This is where we find the parallel between the work of Jorge Colaço and that of Artur Pastor. Both, at different times and on different media, have retraced a rural and traditional Portuguese life which has remained similar even with a gap of about twenty or thirty years.
SHOP OUR TERRA TEA TOWEL FOR PURE AUTHENTICITY AT HOME!
Sol: Jorge Rey Colaço, the king of tile painting
Photographs: São Bento train station, Oporto
Artur Pastor from Arquivo Municipal of Lisbon
Readings about Jorge Rey Colaço :