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Think azulejos are a type of cake? Traditional wall hanging? Flesh-hungry insects? It’s time to visit Champs-Elysées Clemenceau station and get to the bottom of things.
Going to work or the museum? Sometimes, the metro’s white-tiled walls are a source of surprise to hurried commuters passing through a station. One example is Champs-Elysées Clemenceau, where a mural created by painter and ceramic artist Manuel Cargaleiro provides an excellent example of the Portuguese art of ‘azulejo’.
Azulejos appeared in the 16th century in Moorish tile making. The word ‘azulejo’ comes from the Arabic word ‘az-zulayj’ meaning ‘small polished stone’. Many different styles of azulejo – Baroque, Art Nouveau, Rococo, cubist – have appeared over the centuries.
Manuel Cargaleiro’s walls of tiles bearing geometric motifs transform the hallways of the station. Between these friezes, smaller sections of tiles in primary colors create a sense of movement.
This work is the result of a partnership between the RATP and the Lisbon Metro: in exchange for the azulejo work, a Guimard-style metro entrance was installed at Picoas station in 1995. Portugal in the heart of Paris, and Paris in the heart of Lisbon!
Manuel Cargaleiro (born in 1927) is a Portuguese painter and ceramic artist who has worked in France and Portugal during a prolific career inspired by artists like Robert Delaunay, Max Ernst, Victor Vasarely and Paul Klee.
Also skilled at engraving, watercolor painting, needlepoint and sketching, Cargaleiro has created ceramic tile work in several public locations: the municipal garden in Almada, the façade of the Franco-Portuguese Institute in Lisbon, a service station in Obidos on the A-8 motorway, and the Colégio Militar metro station in Lisbon.
An entire museum dedicated to Manuel Cargaleiro is located in Castelo Branco, Portugal.