Collecting is a negation of art, but a needed negation.
Private collecting always runs the risk of negating the art, by placing it at the service of the collector’s interests and obsessions. It risks commoditizing the art by removing the autonomy that makes it what it is and, on the same gesture, fetishizing it under the spell of the collector’s passions. The tension between art and private collecting exists and must be acknowledged. It is up to the collector to make it productive or regressive.
Purposeful collecting is needed, first and foremost, at the service of the art. That is what art institutions do and why institutional collecting is essential. But as private collectors we reject the lack of freedom that comes with the definition of an a priori purpose for a collection or any form of institutionalization. We reject the notion that we collect to build a collection.
So, we aim to invert the terms: What if it is the art that collects the collector? Faced with an encounter with a specific artwork and a call to become the keeper of its aura, the collector accepts the responsibility as a servant, refraining from self-imposed preconceptions of taste, collecting methods or aims. The collection becomes not a and end in itself but an index to a process of mutual discovery. As contingent keepers, not collectors, we maintain direct dialogs with individual artworks looking for traces of evidence that the aura originates not from false notions of objecthood but from the work’s ongoing struggle towards advancing the culture: as a challenge to normality, an unspeakable idea, a mode of philosophy, an originator of dialogue, a political intervention, an overflow of meaning.
In exchange, we try to let it speak its own words: embrace the widest possible manifestations of art, be open and optimistic about its claim for meaning, accept the responsibility that comes with the freedom of choice, promote as much as possible opportunities for dialog, support the community not as a patron but as a servant to the art and the artist. Acknowledging that a degree of commoditization is inevitable, the least we can do is to recognize it for what it is and try that it serves the art and not the collector.
These are some of the guidelines that we attempt to apply in our effort to collect, not always successfully we confess. Collecting for us has a broad meaning. It means contributing towards the global integration of the Portuguese art scene welcoming visits from collectors, artists and curators from around the world; providing a space and conditions for artists to be free to innovate; and contributing to Lisbon’s energetic and cosmopolitan art scene through the support of non-for-profit institutions.
You are most welcome to visit us!
Maria and Armando Cabral