20BB - Bordallianos from Brazil

20 Bordallianos do Brasil (20 Brazilian artists) re-interpreted the elements of Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro’s pieces, exploring the artist’s unparalleled universe and giving it their personal marks, created an unusual, numbered and limited collection of 250 pieces.

A Última Lagosta

In this work I sought a language in dialogue with my work. A fantastic context, where big animals invert their scale with the lobster and attack it. The gigantic lobster becomes a main dish for the animal kingdom to enjoy this expensive and exquisite dish. With a dramatic shade of blood, it makes us think that we are the next to attack these edible animals that are there, on a platter, ready to be placed in the oven.

As Paredes Têm Ouvidos

I arrived in Lisbon on a Saturday morning and on that same afternoon I was already taking pictures of pieces by Bordallo in both museums of Caldas da Rainha. I was quickly taken by this letter rack. The fact that the piece was more subjective (a huge wall ear), absurd and somehow flirting with surrealism, immediately appealed to me; apart from the fact that it contains a popular saying, no less surreal, which is a feature that I normally use in some of my works. I learned that the mould would have to be restored, and that was an opportunity to bring back the work of a genius, which had already stopped being produced. I chose to keep the piece as it was and insert an interference here and there, creating an effect both in the shape and the message. I’ve always thought of this proverb as a small certified paranoia; surreal, mistaking people for walls, as if all that we talk about raised the interest of others. That's when it occurred to me that it could be distracted by other things, instead of us, and so I thought of the headset, an enlarged facsimile of the one by Apple, so widespread in the contemporary world. Bringing together two objects with drawings made at such different times, 100 years apart, I was given the opportunity to pay tribute to two geniuses, Bordallo Pinheiro and Steve Jobs, besides creating a new context, a new piece, with humour, also a Bordallo’s brand.


The project to create Assombrada began with caution. It entailed studying Bordallo Pinheiro and collecting information on the artist, up to the moment of ordering small frogs to carry out prior studies. But even when the subject is affinities, how can one couple poetics - mine and his - without either dissolving? How can one enter into a close conversation with the other - another artist like this one, with a strong, critical and overwhelming work – so that this coupling in fact results in a new quality? Because of all this I chose the faithful silhouette of my hand, as an autobiographical sign, a sort of tag and shadow of myself - to join Bordallo’s frogs, the unmistakable Bordallo’s frogs, his preferred brand. With them stacked on top of the hand, piled up, precariously and yet virtually covered by another black shadow, I tried to create with the frogs and the hand a sort of visual ideogram that would re-signify that strange union on the lid of the tureen. Inseparable, hand and frogs should tell the same story. However, in Assombrada it is purposely not clear whether it is the shadow of my hand grabbing and containing those little frogs, to express domain, or if it was the frogs that erupted and grew unexpectedly - black, like a ghost - over my dark hand to immobilize it over that tureen lid.


For the "Beijo" work, I chose elements of Bordallo Pinheiro’s work that favoured the shape and its contours. The choice of vegetables – pepper, radish and asparagus - was an immediate approach, since I usually work with fruits and vegetables as a starting point. It was a challenge to choose among so many delicately carved shapes; there were also corn, pineapples, pumpkins... Then I went searching for the vases, a shape that I have been electing as essential to my work, as if all the artistic work could be discussed from the first impulses of clay work (or so I want to believe...). In this work, two vases meet and complement each other, their contours almost fitting each other: on one side the gourd vase offers its curves to contrast with its geometric pair - this one created from the spike tiles by Bordallo, remodelled in this case, forming an upright column. One of the "Beijo”’s element of remained useful (there is a surprise asparagus used as a stopper in the radish lid) while the geometric vase was already born sculpted and closed. This contradiction reflects aspects of coexistence between utilitarian objects and art objects.

Bizantino Com Fumaça

As the long-time admirer that I am of the Bordallo’s work, I wanted to take the opportunity of this project to meet more closely one of my favourite sculptures of Bordallo Pinheiro: the "Byzantine Cat". I simply started retracing with my finger the patterns of the surface, still damp, of the Cat fresh out of the mould, as a way to study the topography of the piece, and gradually added to it elements of the sculptural language that I explore in my own work. I emphasized these effects by using the wonderful drained glazes of the BP factory and - finally - I proposed the inversion of the original use of the piece, turning it from a spittoon into a censer, i.e. from a downward (liquid) movement to an upward (smoky) movement. It was a great pleasure to develop this sculpture based on a work I admire so much, and to be able to count on the support of the wonderful staff of the BP Factory in this work: thanks again, everyone!

Caldos da Rainha

The tureen, which had been forgotten for four centuries, now exuding only the generosity to the one whereby the city was named after, is used to shelter different types of creatures, still searching for that initial warm gesture.

Campino Sobreposto

The Campino Sobreposto piece is part of a series of works that use the composition by overlapping two similar images. The aim is to question the levels of representation of the shapes. As if by overlapping two images we get a more realistic picture rather than one single image. Another goal is to build forms with more complexity and difficulty; in the case of the Campino, creating it demanded great skill by the artists of Bordallo Pinheiro, mainly in putting the moulds and pieces together.


Delicatesse was asleep in a prototype since the college days of Caetano de Almeida (1986); it was Bordallo Pinheiro who woke it up with an invitation by the Bordallo Pinheiro Factory for the artist to participate in the project Bordallianos do Brasil. The beautiful and enchanted animals by Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro seduced the artist, who motivated by the challenge of three-dimensionality, travelled to Caldas da Rainha and, researching Rafael’s moulds, gave life to his Delicatesse. Caetano de Almeida adapted it with wings of a fighting cock and, selecting delicate flowers carefully crafted by the artisans of the factory, he decorated the world of this redheaded chicken. Delicatesse has now become a provocative, dramatic and contemporary chicken, updated to today's world, full of contradictions and setbacks. A very special chicken which lives in her colourful and flowery world, where her delicacy and balance games cause a constant tension on her fragile egg.


When I got to the Bordallo factory I went crazy with all those wonders... Everything was fantastic to curse someone, or to offer as a gift! I then decided to bring together what is most common when you think about this subject: I got the pig, which impressed me a lot, the fruits and the vegetables, and put everything on leaves thus turning all these elements into a single thing. Although they are separate pieces I wanted to give the impression that this was found in a rain forest along with lizards, flies and bees. I wanted it to be a real still-life!


“Enxame” is simultaneously a utilitarian and decorative piece of great delicacy that can be used with or without the lace overlay. A large plate, the flower known in Brazil as “glass of milk” (i.e. the calla lily) and the bees are models of the artistic and creative universe of Bordallo Pinheiro. The piece was developed from the moto that Martha Medeiros likes to defend: Believing that there is always a queen inside every woman and, as the bees work to serve the queen mother, so should every woman serves the Queen inside of her. This is also the goal of the designer - that every woman dressed by Martha Medeiros feels like a queen.

Floreiro Archeiro

The "Floreiro Archeiro" piece, whose starting point is the "Archeiro" vase, is the result of a collage of elements from several other pieces which together make up a new piece. All the details of the "Floreiro Archeiro" are original creations of Bordallo Pinheiro, or from those who followed him. However, the painting colours were changed, turning the Portuguese goldfinch into a canary from Brazil. The archer’s uniform lost the original colours, and received the uniform colours of Empire Brazil. This is a piece that, although perfectly inserted in my work poetics, where I usually counter stereotypical elements of strength and masculinity with elements traditionally seen as feminine, I believe it is still a piece that is very faithful to Bordallo Pinheiro. This is a distinctly decorative piece, but at the same time utilitarian; it has a use, a function. Moreover, the piece will only be ready when its owner completes it by using it as a flower box. So, each copy of the piece will be different from the others, depending on the flowers and use that the owner prefers to give it.

Furnarius Rufus

Furnarius Rufus is the scientific name of a bird popularly known as Ovenbird. This bird builds its nest using straw and dung with moist clay. The shape of the nest resembles an oven, hence the relationship between the bird and the oven. This project manufactured in the Bordallo Pinheiro ceramic factory uses a shape similar to the common icon of a house, which may be used as a bird house or not. The sculpture has ornaments that were drawn from a panel by the master Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro, containing drawings of birds in the region and cut fragments of blue tiles in relief. By adding the icon-shape of the house, the work brings together the nest, the house, the art of Bordallo, and the sculpture’s walls in the same colour tones of the original panel, however de-characterizing the original tile. The sculpture is suspended by cables and can be placed indoors or outdoors.

Galo Bordallo

Elsa Rebelo invited me to the Bordallianos of Brazil, and insisted on it. I, ignorant of the work of Bordallo, claimed a full calendar (which was true). Finally she sent me pictures of his work. This convinced me immediately, for the work of Bordallo Pinheiro matches my artistic mentality so much that seeing it was like finding a close relative unknown until then. I should use the factory’s moulds, but as I am not much of a "ready-made" person so I suggested that I would do something in the Bordallo style. I went to my studio in Bourgogne and, among a thousand sketches and studies I found an extravagant and autarchic rooster proudly holding a feather, ready to write something. At this point I realized that this was the portrait of Bordallo, Galo Bordallo, Borgalo! I increasingly believe in the influence of the future on the past. I'm sure my future contact with the work of Rafael Bordallo was already producing a retroactive effect, a secret inspiration so that, without knowing why, over a year before I‘d make the philosophical portrait of Rafael Bordallo. The rooster was made at the factory in Caldas da Rainha, not with a feather but with the famous Bordallo mechanical pencil, the one that is seen in his self-portraits, in caricatures that he drew.

O Colador de Cacos

Earthenware is a deeply symbolic material of the continuity of values within a family throughout generations, both for its fragility and for its heredity. I remember perfectly the sorrow my mother felt every time some old crockery would break at home. These objects carried memories of weddings, funerals, christenings, Christmas dinners and Sunday lunches, the remaining and traces of all the ancestors who had used such dinnerware, alas, it was as if an entire genetic strain had disintegrated. I still see her, sad, trying to glue the pieces back together, as if repairing the past the best way she could. O colador de cacos [the pieces’ fixer] is a kind of memory elf. Assuming all its imperfections, he carves the impossible shape of the legacy of family conventions and traditions. It is an entity that appears in the night to fix the artificial and confusing manner in which we set our memories.

Plátano Bordallo

The piece which I named Plátano Bordallo was developed when I realized that among Bordallo’s repertoire of images there are many representations of insects. Also recurring in my work are images of Butterflies and Moths. Strolling in a park in Caldas da Rainha, I picked up a small branch of Plátano [Maple], which was shaped in the modelling workshops of the Fábrica de Faianças Artísticas Bordallo Pinheiro. In the same piece, I placed side by side the moths moulded by me, with Bordallo’s fly, beetle and bees. I looked for points of contact between my work and Bordallo’s. The result is a dialogue, a negotiation and hybridization of different poetics and times, thus emphasizing the innovative and timeless character in the work of Bordallo Pinheiro.

Sermão aos Peixes

The idea of the work was to change the religious content of the original piece, making it a little more "abstract" - something like a wave sculpture that references a sea landscape, quite characteristic of Brazil and Portugal; to bring out a unique piece of the collection, or little known by the public who knows the Bordallo production, besides tracing a relationship with the works of my personal artistic production.

Terrina Noé

Under Barrão’s poetic continuity of objects’ ownership, disconnecting them from their original contexts and uses, giving them a new sense, is presented Terrina Noé. A naturalistic composition, using Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro’s ceramic universe as a starting point but, this time, Barrão did not limited himself to the reuse of the remains already produced and finished during the productive procedure, but rather intervenes in the ceramic process. The game of fitting and accumulation starts right away in the contact with the plastic materials and ceramic moulds, also using Bordallo’s colour palette.



Vai e Vem

Developed from the letterings produced by Bordallo Pinheiro to signal the streets of Caldas de Rainha, the Vai e Vem piece intends to combine the formal geometric poetics of the artist Estela Sokol with the universal ironic style of cartoons created by Bordallo alongside his naturalist search. Vai e Vem invites the viewer to transgress the common use of letterings using a game between colours and words.


The observation of the moulds’ textures of the pineapple and banana leaves inspired me to use them as a "second skin". "Xina" (from the Portuguese “abacaxi” - pineapple - and “banana”), are symbiotic plates: a contemporary interpretation of tropical fruits and leaves, a constant presence in the history of Bordallo Pinheiro.