Architect, photographer, painter and graphic designer
Victor Manuel Palla e Carmo was born in Lisbon in 1922. He was the son of a theatre make-up artist and amateur photographer.
In Lisbon, he studied Architecture (1939), which he concluded in Porto, in 1948. While in Porto, he ran the "Galeria Portugália" (1944) and exhibited his work in the Independent Exhibitions (1943-1950) with Fernando Lanhas and Júlio Pomar, among others.
On his return to Lisbon, he joined the General Exhibitions on Plastic Arts, between 1947 and 1955, and the renovation of national Architecture, by espousing the International Style, more precisely the Brazilian architecture.
He published theoretical articles in magazines such as "Arquitectura", which he directed in 1952, and designed innovative architectural projects in partnership with Joaquim Bento d' Almeida, an architect with whom he shared a studio for 25 years.
Some of the projects designed in this architecture studio consisted of commercial spaces, coffee-shops, in particular, but also the first snack-bars in Portugal (Terminus, Pic-Nic, "Noite e Dia" and Galeto, in Lisbon, and "Cunha", in Porto).
Palla designed many other projects of great dynamics in terms of space and materials used, receptive to the innovations in the areas of furniture and lighting, and adapted to modern life. Some examples of these works are: factories, the Vale Escuro School (1953) and School No. 175 -Lisbon, in Olivais Norte, and the small village of Açoteias, in Albufeira, a private project which he developed in the 60's.
This talented and multifaceted professional was also dedicated to other artistic and cultural areas, such as Painting (he participated in exhibitions since the 40s, joined galleries in Porto and in Lisbon, and promoted the General Exhibition on Plastic Arts, organized between 1946 and 1956), Ceramics, Graphic Design (he was responsible for the graphic work in several publications and hundreds of book covers, especially for editors Arcádia and Atlântida) and Translation. He was also actively and enthusiastically engaged in working as a gallery owner, animator, editor (he organized anthologies of short stories, joined the magazine "Vampiro Magazine" between 1950 and 1952, and was part of the team that produced "O Gato Preto – Antologia de Mistério e Fantasia", in 1952 – an anthology of mystery and fantasy stories), as a writer (he received a prize in the annual short stories contests organized by "Ellery Queen's Mystery magazine") and, in particular, as a photographer.
Together with Costa Martins (1922-1996), he published "Lisboa, Cidade Triste e Alegre", in 1959, a modern book in a humanist sense, close to the neo-Realism style due to its graphic design and print, a work in which the photographic work of the two artists are compiled, presented at the Diário de Notícias Gallery, in Lisbon, and at the Divulgação Gallery, in Porto.
This photography project was re-edited in 1982 by the Ether Gallery, which, in that same year, re-edited the book and promoted the exhibition "Lisboa e Tejo e Tudo (1956/1959)", and edited the respective catalogue.
The book was, at last, acknowledged as an important work of art in both Portugal and abroad. Philippe Arbaizar (2002) referred to it in the magazine of the Georges Pompidou Centre, and Martin Parr and Gerry Badger mentioned it in "The Photobook: A History" (2004). In 2001, it was chosen as one of the 100 best books of the 20th century.
In 1992, the Modern Art Centre of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon, dedicated a retrospective photography exhibition on the artist and, in 1999, the Portuguese Photography Centre, in Porto, awarded him the National Photography Prize.
Victor Palla died in Lisbon on 28 April 2006, at the age of 84, of pneumonia. His work continues to interest art lovers from all over the world, and numerous researchers, namely his grandson João Palla.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2010)