In the wake of a retrospective of the Lisbon architect João Luís Carrilho da Graça at Casa da Arquitectura in Matosinhos, the catalog gathers not only the documentation of the ten key buildings presented, but also the proceedings of the debates and conferences held in line with the show. In addition, essays and statements of leading architects and critics shed light on the trajectory and thought process of this unique architect. As editor and curator Marta Sequeira notes, both book and exhibition are structured on the principle of analepsis, commonly referred to in film as ‘flashback’: how a narrative is reordered to return to an earlier point, here also paying homage to a like-titled exhibition of the artist Julião Sarmento, a lifelong friend of Carrilho da Graça.
Hence, the Lisbon Cruise Terminal of 2018 kicks off a sequence that ends with the Fonte Fria house of 1988. More than other books on his oeuvre, this one enlightens us on the wealth of Carrilho da Graça’s references, from Malevich’s Arkhitektons and El Lissitzky’s Prouns to more recent influences, including Sarmento. In doing so, it travels across the architect’s library and art collection, immersing readers in his creative process. It is perplexing that Kenneth Frampton calls Carrilho da Graça ‘postmodern.’ While definitions are subjective, the architect’s work shows little of postmodernity’s cynicism, anti-humanist critique, and frivolous exuberance. If anything, it draws from the values of the modern project, poetically reinstating and reinventing its language.