The Oriente Metro station at Parque das Nações was opened in 1998 to coincide with the Expo ’98 (Lisbon International Exposition). As part of the international aspect of the Exposition, 11 renowned artists from various countries around the world were invited to create artworks for the walls of the underground station based on the subject ‘The Oceans, a legacy for the Future’, which was the theme of Expo ’98. Here are just three of the 11 works, which like all the contributions, are very different in terms of style and content, but all manage to address the subject of the sea.
The brightly-coloured tiled cityscape entitled ‘Submersão da Atlântida’ (‘Submersion of Atlantis’, 1998) by the Austrian Expressionist painter and architect Hundertwasser (Friedrich Stowasser, 1928-2000) is a huge mural depicting the mythical island of Atlantis that was said to have been submerged into the Atlantic Ocean. Atlantis is depicted as a large modern city of bright, bold-coloured skyscrapers against a black background, all leaning off-centre, which gives it another-worldly feeling. The angular shapes of the skyscrapers are broken up at regular intervals by large oval-shaped flying objects, suggesting a futuristic city rather than one of the past.
‘No Mar da Palha’ (‘On Mar da Palha’, 1998), by the Australian artist Arthur Boyd (1920-1999), is a large tile-panel seascape painting of the Mar da Palha water basin in the Tejo Estuary near Parque das Nações. In contrast to Hundertwasser’s bold colours, Boyd’s Impressionist painting is in soft shades of blue, white, brown, yellow and green, with just a tiny splash of bright red in the centre of the painting to suggest something on the water.
António Ségui (b.1934) is an Argentinean artist, whose work for Oriente station, ‘Os Oceanos’ (‘The Oceans’, 1998) straddles the two tiled end walls either side of the track. His very unique Satirical style consists of many overlapping repeated characters and objects, which although may appear to be the same, are all unique. One recurring character is a gentleman (or different gentlemen) wearing a suit and tie and a formal hat (a fedora, trilby or homburg), and there has been much speculation as to who this character is; is he an Everyman figure or even the artist himself? In the work for the Oriente Metro station the images in the painting are all connected to the sea, including manly-featured mermaids, divers, boats, lighthouses, fish and other sea creatures, all of which make the besuited men appear completely out of place and, as a result, give a sensation of them being comical or even sinister.