Jaime Fernandes

Portugal, 1899 – 1969

Jaime Fernandes is undoubtedly the best-known Portuguese artist in the field of art brut/outsider art, but is primarily known outside Portugal. This can be explained by the fact that a significant part of his work has been lost and most of the remainder is dispersed in foreign collections. This lack of recognition in his native land is partly related to a life spent in isolation, the way that he developed his work and the manner in which his works subsequently circulated. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1938 and was hospitalised for over three decades in the Miguel Bombarda Hospital, in Lisbon, where he died in 1969. Jaime Fernandes unexpectedly began drawing at the age of 66, four years before his death, according to personal testimonies and references to the drawings kept in the hospital’s clinical records and to the letters he wrote to his wife. His entire known oeuvre consists of drawings, undated, primarily made with coloured pens on different types of paper, where a limited number of figures above all imaginary animals, human or anthropomorphic figures appear and reappear in innumerable variations, always superimposed over a dense mesh of lines. His letters, other writings and drawings were posthumously filmed by António Reis and Margarida Cordeiro, for the film Jaime (1974), which was the first public moment for dissemination of the artist’s work. In the words of António Reis, Jaime Fernandes “had a perfect sense of the space to be occupied by a drawing or painting. Given that he was constrained by the small dimensions of the paper, many of his human figures have lowered or raised arms, while the animals have drooping tails. The attitudes depicted in the drawings are therefore always based on the constraints of the paper, for which he always found a brilliant plastic solution. It is possible that they are also linked to an emotional, obsessive stereotype and archetypes …»

Source: Centro de Arte Oliva