Oliva Art Centre is a place to meet, know and interpret the visual arts of the 20th and 21st centuries. It is the only institution in Portugal working regularly with contemporary art and art brut/outsider art. Our mission is based on the understanding that art is a complex, challenging field subject to constant revision and expansion, which translates into a programming whose exhibitions and projects generate new interpretations of the various unfolding histories of art. Our exhibition projects, educational programme and collaborative initiatives seek to develop a vital, accessible and participative relationship with the arts.
Since its foundation Oliva Art Centre hosts two private collections on long term loan. The Norlinda and José Lima Modern and Contemporary Art Collection includes approximately one thousand two hundred artworks by two hundred and fifty Portuguese artists and an equal number of international artists. + about the collection The Treger Saint Silvestre Art Brut Collection includes approximately one thousand five hundred works by three hundred and fifty authors from Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia. + about the collection They are the result of forty years of uninterrupted collecting. Despite their markedly different orientation, the two collections share a unique significance in the Portuguese panorama. The collections have been shown in the context of a temporary exhibitions programme that is the only one in Portugal to regularly and continually feature contemporary and art brut/outsider art.
Aside from the exhibitions featuring artworks from the resident collections, Oliva Art Centre hosts a temporary exhibitions programme with three main guidelines: to allow for the discovery and knowledge with artworks by artists whose value is unquestionable, but whose work is not well-known or has never been shown in Portugal; to foster the intersection of the visual arts and other fields of creation (such as film, dance, design and architecture) and to promote projects featuring new narratives, interpretations and contributions to art history; to privilege projects that contribute to widen the range of visual art programming in Portugal.
Edíficios Gerais, Cortesia Museu da Chapelaria, SJM
Fundição, Cortesia Museu da Chapelaria, SJM
Oliva Art Centre was created by the São João da Madeira Municipal Council within the scope of a wide rehabilitation plan for the buildings of former metallurgic plant Oliva, which were reconverted into a cultural project. Initially called Núcleo de Arte da Oliva [Oliva Art Nucleus], it opened in 2013; it was renamed Centro de Arte Oliva [Oliva art Centre] in 2019, which coincided with the creation of its new visual identity.
Oliva began in 1925 with the creation of the company A. J. Oliveira, Filhos & Cª, Lda, which produced equipment for São João da Madeira’s thriving hat-making industry. In their first year, they began manufacturing agricultural equipment and quickly moved on the produce cast-iron, enamelled bathtubs, thereby becoming a unique facility in the Portuguese industrial landscape. In the 1940s, the company started to produce its emblematic Oliva sowing-machines, launching precision mass-production in Portugal.
In 1944, Porto’s studio ARS Arquitectos were commissioned to design two pavilions to install assembly lines, sowing machine production and a foundry. The company became publicly known as Oliva and its image continues to endure today thanks to an advertising strategy that included posters conceived by modernist designer Alberto Cardoso, the participation in Portuguese films and advertising campaigns across the country and in the then colonies of Angola and Mozambique.
During the 1950s Oliva began heavy iron smelting, which entailed the construction of new buildings (also designed by ARS studio). Centro de Arte Oliva is installed in one of the latest buildings from the early 1960s, the foundry’s warehouses and ‘general-purpose buildings’, designed by architect Fernando Manuel Vieira de Campos and engineer Manuel Eduardo Coimbra de Sousa. At its height, Oliva employed three thousand workers. In the 1970s, it was sold to American group ITT – International Telephone and Telegraph, entering into a protracted period of decline in the 1980s that would lead to complete shutdown in 2010. The city has meanwhile acquired some of the buildings, which were rehabilitated according to the renovation model of turning former industrial installations into arts and culture centres.
Collections and exhibitions
Maria Manuel (coord.)
Management services coordination
Daniel Costa (coord.)