“I was raised on art. That’s what started all of this,” gallerist Duarte Sequeira tells me as we walk around his eponymous gallery and backyard. “All of this” is Duarte Sequeira Gallery, a sprawling landscape of rolling green hills, palm trees, maritime pines, and cork oaks.
25 acres in the suburbs of Braga (the third-largest city in Portugal), Duarte Sequeira Gallery is a beautiful art destination and where Sequeira was raised. The family home, a 19th-century farmhouse looms off to the side of the verdant grounds. In the center are a temple-like main gallery, a white-box warehouse, a sculpture park, and a restored farmhouse. The experience is an art paraíso in every way.
For two and a half decades, Mario and Paula Sequeira delighted Braga with artists like Julian, Opie, Andy Warhol, Richard Long, Gerhard Richter, and Sigmar Polke in their restored farmhouse and Carvalho Araújo-designed main exhibition space. It was the scene for culture luminaries, and son Duarte was milk-fed on it. His bedroom was decorated with Alex Katz and Opie paintings, and his childhood friends were international artists.
In 2019, Duarte took over the gallery, renaming it Duarte Sequeira Gallery and pushing one of Portugal’s most dominant galleries in a new direction. His reboot includes changing up the artist roster to include new names and adding a second exhibition space to showcase young and emerging artists. The warehouse, as it is called, is another Araújo white box and like the main gallery, it takes up a nominal presence by respectfully hiding in the verdant hills. Only a hint of the architecture is visible above ground, and the actual exhibition areas are underground.
Duarte opened the sculpture park to the public and is constantly evolving its landscape with new installations. Currently, the tree-filled park has two site-specific installations by Long, a monumental sculpture drawing by Opie, and work by Vanessa de Silva, Rui Chafes, and more.
On the far edge of the property is another restored farmhouse restored into a luxury residence and artist’s studio space. This is where German artist André Butzer and his sons have been living for a few months as he gets ready for his retrospective.
A visit to Duarte Sequeira is an art experience.360-degree art experience from its architecture and exhibitions to how you experience the art. Every opening, his parents host epic parties in the ground-level gallery of the farmhouse where they still live. With the backdrop of another Long site-specific installation, 100 or so guests and friends nibble on ovos moles, drink the Douro, and dance to Pimba, Pimba until the wee hours.
Sequeira’s reboot of the gallery expands out of property and Portugal. In 2022, the gallerist opened his first South Korean space in the Gangnam district of Seoul, and just a few weeks ago, he inaugurated a second Seoul gallery near Deoksu Palace with a show by American artist Pieter Schoolwerth. Each space was — a historic palace and a contemporary building — was chosen by Sequeira for its architectural significance which is part of Duarte Squeria Gallery’s DNA. “ I wanted same intentionality.”
As I stand in front of one of Butzer’s monumental paintings— a wide-eyed, manga-ish girl in suspended technicolor landscapes —suspended animation and intentionality are laden. I’m caught up in an oasis of creativity on the outskirts of Braga. But that’s just the starting point of an art journey for Duarte Squeira.