Painting Comics as a “Permanent Commentary on the State of the Arts”*

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Eduardo Batarda (b. 1943, Coimbra, Portugal) is a Portuguese painter, whose work has, by its particular characteristics, been questioning art history, as well as the relation between art and politics throughout the years, since 1964. I propose to focus particularly in some examples of his paintings from the 1970s when Batarda developed a watercolour technique of saturated colours and refined drawing to make an explicit cumulative figuration akin to underground comics. He used it not only to comment the changing in the art world but in the world itself, namely the political changes in Portugal and the colonial war, as well as foreign policies, mixing all up in layers of multiple readings, and intrinsically connecting art history and politics. The fact that he used comics to do it was a way of mocking the art world with a language that was considered “low”. He also used the watercolour technique consciously for its conventional relegation to a less prestigious realm, and both this technique along with the painstaking quality of execution, with highly complex drawing and painting skills, contrasted to an at times explicitly pornographic thematic. There is in these options a constant and deliberate contradiction in terms as a way to show the absurdity of conventions. The paintings from this period have been described by the painter as “permanent commentaries on the state of the arts”. This paper will analyse the way these commentaries used comics as a tool for criticism from within the medium of painting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-66
Number of pages22
JournalKonsthistorisk Tidskrift
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


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