"A picture is worth more than a thousand words'', says Flor Mizrahi Tueti, a Venezuelan painter of the Jewish Community of Oporto. "We in the Jewish community wish to show our story as it has been since the beginning, when the Jews in Portugal were free to practise their religion and trade, then when they were expelled by the King and the Inquisition and up to the present day", she added.
In cultural terms, the Jewish community of Oporto already produced films depicting and reconstructing historical facts about the life of the Jews in Oporto, inaugurated two museums, a Jewish Museum and a Holocaust Museum, and also produced music and literature. "Now, we are creating an art gallery that will show sixteen pictures by artists on the different experiences of the Jewish people in Portugal", says Tueti.
The paintings will be displayed in chronological order, as follows:
1 – Old time market, where the Jews were preeminent merchants.
2 – Religious Jews rule the community spiritually.
3 – Jews praying by the walls of Oporto, turned to face Jerusalem.
4 – A Beit Midrash.
5 – A ship filled with people leaves Portugal in the 15th century.
6 – The forced baptism of an adult Jew.
7 – An auto-da-fé of the Inquisition in Oporto.
8 – A map showing the destinations of the Portuguese Jewish Diaspora.
9 - Ashkenazi wedding was held in a private house in Oporto in the early 20th century.
10 - Exterior image of the Kadoorie Mekor Haim synagogue, inaugurated in 1938.
11 – The Oporto community welcomes Holocaust refugees in 1940.
12 – A nun says Kaddish for a deceased Jew in 1982.
13 – A present day Sephardic wedding.
14 – Jews praying in Oporto synagogue.
15 - The President of the Portuguese Republic visits Oporto’s great synagogue.
16 – A greeting between the Bishop of Oporto and the President of the Jewish Community of this city.
The artists were free to choose what techniques they wish to use in their paintings: oil, acrylic, photography and illustrations and each one should express a historic legacy.
The different forms of art correspond to the characteristic that human beings have to express themselves, communicate, convey emotions, messages and reflections; it is therefore an educational tool in societies.
In the Middle Ages, for example, the use of images in the form of animals or dog-heads served to depict Jews as heretics. We can see, even in Portugal, Jews being shown with conical hats, one with long hair and a beard, the other with a dog-head, the stereotype of all infidels (sculpture of an apostle on a pedestal in the portico of Évora Cathedral), ideas that entered the town’s imagination and are still remembered today, all through images.
The new gallery in Oporto hopes to open to the public in April 2022.