In 1960 the concrete poet Décio Pignatari (1927–2012) was assigned to write a review of his friend Raúl Porto’s work, which was shown at that year’s Prêmio Leirner (Leirner Prize). Pignatari wrote his review in poetic terms in an attempt to describe the conceptual dialogues he could discern in Porto’s work, using paradox to illustrate the exchange between geometric rigidity and optical effects: “Raúl Porto threw himself into a struggle for imprecise precision.” The critic thus played an important role for art itself by adding the dimension of being seen from the perspective of a different artistic discipline to the essential quality of a work.
Since he was a young man, Raúl Porto (1936−1999) showed an interest in painting and graphic design, especially in illustrations for works of poetry. He produced some of his earliest works to illustrate Alberto Amêndola Heinzl’s poems in O Messidor, the journal published by the Academia Estudantina Panamericana de Campinas, in 1952. His interest was renewed in 1957 with the graphic design for “Minarete,” the literary page in the Jornal Correio Popular de Campinas. Three years later he took over the direction of “Minarete-experiência,” the art and literature page in the same newspaper. At that time, Porto also showed his work at several exhibitions, the first and second editions of the Exposição de arte contemporânea de Campinas in 1957 and 1958, among others. At the latter event the participating artists and the journalist and poet Alberto Heinzl created the Grupo Vanguarda and published their manifesto in the Jornal do Centro de Ciências, Letras e Artes de Campinas. Cleaving to the ideas expressed in the Manifesto ruptura they viewed the art of the past as being outdated and on the brink of extinction; they nonetheless still believed that it could be “renewed.” The manifesto therefore suggests that art renewal should be a progressive process. Porto was the “spokesman” for the Grupo Vanguarda and, in 1959, organized a group exhibition titled Artistas de Campinas at the Galeria de Arte das Folhas in São Paulo.