Despite an interest in the predominant European movements at the time — Vorticism in Britain, Italian Futurism, Ultraism in Spain — Pessoa was never a mimetic follower of the innovations stemming from the cultural, economic and political centres of his time. Instead, he preferred to plot his own route, incorporating Portuguese idiosyncrasies through a series of “isms”: Paulism, Intersectionism and Sensationism
The first, Paulism, identified turn-of-the-century languages in Portugal, giving a name to the textualities and visualities of Decadentism which were linked to Saudosismo, a form of regeneration of symbolism in Portugal. More tightly bound to avant-garde languages, Intersectionism counterposed the multiplicity of Cubist representation with an intersection of planes and references devoid of a figure or unifying principles. Sensationism was the predominant project of the theoretical body of Pessoan aesthetics and philosophy, in particular when its central role in the Portuguese avant-garde is focused upon. Based on the axiom of “feeling everything in every way”, uttered by the heteronym Álvaro de Campos, this ism described the convergence of all feelings, no matter how contradictory.
Coined and embarked upon in different theoretical and poetic texts, these isms fastened, in a programmatic framework, Pessoa’s textual output and the output of other avant-garde poets together, as well as other visual and performance works in the Portuguese avant-garde. Therefore, they are pivotal for gaining awareness and formulating an account of modernity which is at once plural and diverse.
Fernando Cabral Martins is a professor of Portuguese literature at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He coordinated Dicionário de Fernando Pessoa e do Modernismo Português in 2008 and has published Introdução ao Estudo de Fernando Pessoa (2014).
João Fernandes is deputy director of the Museo Reina Sofía and co-curator of the exhibition Pessoa: All Art Is a Form of Literature.
Marta Soares is an art historian and a specialist in Portuguese modern art. Alongside Raquel Henriques da Silva, she co-curated the exhibition Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso / Porto Lisboa / 2016 – 1916 (Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, Porto, and the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu de Chiado, Lisbon, 2016).