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Calçada Portuguesa no Mundo, by Ernesto Matos

Portuguese Cobblestone in the World

Everywhere he traveled, Ernesto Matos encountered a rich imagery of motifs in which the ethnic values and the indigenous cultures appear to have been assimilated and reinterpreted by the “calçeteiros” (cobblestone craftsmen) who, in many cases, learn to recover the patterns that had long crumbled into dust.

Year:  2016

Ernesto Matos, in his travels around the world, has captured disconnected images and has built a near exhaustive inventory of his fondness for carpeting the ground with small stones in two colors.  These stones are carved by hand and arranged in patterns of elaborate designs or in simple lines and geometric shapes authored by anonymous artists or by great masters.

This exhibit showcases a small subset of Ernesto Matos’ efforts of many years to publicize the patrimony that exists across the continents and islands of the world that the Portuguese explored and inhabited in their voyages to Europe, Africa, America, and Asia.

Everywhere he traveled, Ernesto Matos encountered a rich imagery of motifs in which the ethnic values and the indigenous cultures appear to have been assimilated and reinterpreted by the “calçeteiros” (cobblestone craftsmen) who, in many cases, learn to recover the patterns that had long crumbled into dust.

This exhibit represents a small collection of photos. Macau is the quintessential locale where the presence of Portuguese cobblestone pavement is most identifiable, embellishing both its interior and exterior urban areas with refinement and humanist expressions.

In each photograph, Ernesto Matos invites us to reflect on the formidable Portuguese Epic -- a worldwide diaspora -- composed with so much simplicity and wealth with an intent to forever leave a mark.  It is almost as if each cobblestone pavement were itself a “padrão” -- a stone monument marking a newly discovered land.

Art, Stone by Stone

By addressing the subject from several perspectives: history, design, geology, colorimetry and architecture, Ernesto Matos shows that Portuguese cobblestone pavement is more than just the simple application of natural stone. It must be perceived as a natural cultural expression of Portuguese prototype. Its foundations trace back to a historical legacy, a cultural and technological medley of Roman and Arab construction that finally took hold in Portugal in the 15th century during the reign of D. João II.

Humankind laid out its destiny by taking to the road. Step by step, hand in hand, it metamorphosed the walk and conceived the pavement. Through cobblestone pavement, peoples and civilizations were united, conquests anticipated, and routes and riches found. Today, this art, so typically Portuguese, is found in many parts of the world.

Portugal contains in its subsoil a vast collection of natural stone, from granite, limestone and marble to schist, quartz and even basalt. Each locality takes advantage of its rich natural geological resources and uses primarily the region’s prevailing stone. This is the case in the Algarve with marble and schist and in the Azores and Madeira archipelagos with black basalt. In most municipalities in recent years, Portuguese cobblestone pavement was a requirement for urban designation.

Ernesto Matos' book, "Calçada Portuguesa no Mundo" is available on Amazon.

Images  (click on image to view full size)


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