Júlio de Matos Photography




The "Palacete da D. Chica" is near to my home city of Braga. I would see it from the other side of the boundary walls whenever I visited some friends who had a farm in Palmeira. Although the general opinion at the time was that it was in very dubious taste, and also had a certain stigma of being nouveau riche, I used to think it was "fantastic", and would populate it in my childhood imagination with knights and mythical characters. This was my first experience of Casas de Brasileiro. And the "Palacete da D. Chica" was also the first Casa de Brasileiro that I photographed when I started this project! About 50 years later, I returned to the places of my childhood, and to the memory in my mind’s eye. In the meantime, I had graduated in Architecture and studied Photography. 

Developing a photographic project around Casas de Brasileiro, which are architectural objects, posed some conceptual problems, as well as some unexpected personal ones. In earlier photographic projects, even those involving photographing architecture and urban environments, there was always a clear subordination to the concept of the project.

Is Architecture really photographable? Or just documentable, or appropriable by photography? Architectural photography makes the architectural object subordinate on an image. It would be like saying that a given cathedral is very interesting, but what one liked more was a specific detail or a particular angle. When a photographer imposes his vision/understanding of an architectural object, he appropriates it. But sometimes its presence is so strong that it imposes itself on the photographer who is interpreting and communicating it. There is an active dynamic between architecture and its photographic image.

Architecture is not strictly photographable. In Architecture, the emotion of the space brought about by the space-time relationship (3D+1) materialised through multiple, endless paths, does not exist outside the space. The architectural path is the way of understanding architecture. The visualisation of absence is a form of survival: we imagine what photography cannot show. 

Photography and Architecture share various purposes, plane, volumes, distances, and above all, Light. Light is matter in motion, it is time. To photograph is to segment time on the surface of the record, it is the choice of the moment, and to accept or shape light. In the impossibility of recording the spatial/relational essence of Architecture, what are we left with? Only the portrait that resources form to the expressivity that it may already have or that we give it. There is scope here for understanding, as well as feeling: above all else, photography is a look.

The choice of colour in this body of images suggests an evocation. Again the architecture still present can take on the hues of a past. There is an imaginary and fictional land, with a slight flavour of the tropics, when we feel everything that this series of pictures presents. The dilapidation of some of the houses shown, and the preserved condition of others reinforce this impression. The fiction is only the synthesis and the meaning that we give it now. The Casas de Brasileiro is, above all, a lesson of affectivity.

Júlio de Matos
September, 2008

Houses in this gallery: Vila Beatriz (Santo Emilião), Vila Idalina (Seixas), Casa do Castelo do Bom Jesus, Quinta da Regaleira (Sintra), Palacete Conde Dias Garcia (S.João da Madeira), Casa do Sol (Couto Cucujães), Vila Brandão (Couto Cucujães), Palacete de D.Chica (Palmeira), Palácio Beau-Séjour (Lisboa) and Quinta do Seixal (M. Poiares).

All Photographs and Texts by Júlio de Matos | All rights reserved | © Júlio de Matos, 2009-2019