For This Is Not A White Cube’s fifth anniversary, the contemporary art gallery has expanded its international presence with the opening of a new space in Chiado, one of Lisbon’s trendiest neighborhoods. To mark the occasion, the gallery is simultaneously presenting a solo exhibition by the Santomense artist René Tavares, in its two branches, in Lisbon and in Luanda (Angola).

Founded in Luanda back in 2016, the international art gallery has already presented dozens of exhibitions in Angola, South Africa, France, the UK, and in Portugal. “The historical connection between Portugal and Africa made Lisbon the most suitable location for the gallery’s natural expansion”, reads their press release. The new gallery space offers a view on contemporary Portuguese artistic production, and artists from the African and South American continents and its diaspora.

René Tavares' Art

In the new Chiado art gallery, René Tavares presents his latest project about cultural identity, migration and most importantly, our memory. “Memory is the source of all our questions”, the artist tells me, “it is our heritage, our identity”. Tavares is inspired by the different “cultural elements” around him. His work, reminding one of a Basquiat-like style, is deeply connected to the idea of heritage. “[It] is the main theme of a series of projects in which I seek through painting, photography and drawing, undefined zones of artistic, aesthetic and visual creation”, the painter says.

Migration and heritage are themes that have always been a motor of innovation and creativity over the years for the Santomense artist. “Heritage is thus increasingly becoming a strong weapon for restructuring and strengthening of a universal language of intersections of stories and sharing that has taken place over time”, he says.

“In Memory We Trust” challenges us, placing us “between the critical revision of a dystopian conception of the identity of the African continent and the need to affirm a renewed vision of the various Africas that Africa encloses with its borders and in the diaspora”, the gallery indicates. Atlantic Nation is an expression that comes up often in his paintings from this exhibition. “It is a meeting of people from the diaspora of ex colonies. Atlantic nation is a new nation, a new identity we need to create. When talking about migration, we talk about a mix”. The idea of miscegenation “is the result of that mix today”, the painter explains. And that’s what Atlantic Nation is. If the ocean could speak, “it would have a lot to say, its testimony on migrations would have plenty to teach us about our identity”, the artist says. Besides where we are from, where we have been or where we are going, René Tavares beautifully put it when he wrote “our identity is increasingly defined by the set of memories that make up our values”.

In addition to the exhibit that the art gallery is presenting in Lisbon and Luanda, the Santomense artist’s work can also be found in Braga, in the exhibition “The Silence of the Earth” at the Museu Nogueira da Silva and the Galeria do Paço; at the Gaia International Art Biennial 2021 and in “The Breath of the Ancestors” at the Congo Biennal 2021.