Joana Vasconcelos (b. 1971) is one of Portugal’s leading artists and was the country’s representative at La Biennale di Venezia 2013. She lives and works in Lisbon. She studied at Ar.Co in Lisbon and has exhibited regularly since the mid-1990s.
The nature of Joana Vasconcelos’ creative process is based on the appropriation, decontextualisation and subversion of pre-existent objects and everyday realities. Sculptures and installations, which are revealing of an acute sense of scale and mastery of colour, as well as the recourse to performances and video or photographic records, all combine in the materialisation of concepts which challenge the pre-arranged routines of the quotidian.
Starting out from ingenious operations of displacement, a reminiscence of the ready-made and the grammars of Nouveau Réalisme and pop, the artist offers us a complicit vision, but one which is at the same time critical of contemporary society and the several features which serve the enunciations of collective identity, especially those that concern the status of women, class distinction or national identity. From this process there derives a speech which is attentive to contemporary idiosyncrasies, where the dichotomies of hand-crafted/industrial, private/public, tradition/modernity and popular culture/erudite culture are imbued with affinities that are apt to renovate the usual fluxes of signification which are characteristic of contemporaneity.
The site-specific interventions in the public art domain assume special relevance in the Vasconcelos’ work. Some of Joana Vasconcelos’ most important public art interventions are: Portugal a Banhos, Doca de Santo Amaro, Lisbon (2010); La Théière, Le Royal Monceau, Paris (2010); Sr. Vinho, Mercado Municipal de Torres Vedras, Torres Vedras (2010).
Recent highlights of her career include a solo exhibition at the Manchester City Galleries UK in 2014, participation in the group exhibition “The World Belongs to You” at the Palazzo Grassi/François Pinault Foundation, Venice (2011), and her first retrospective, held at the Museu Coleção Berardo, Lisbon (2010). Vasconcelos has had solo exhibitions and projects at the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, Lisbon (2013); CENTQUATRE, Paris (2012); Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark (2011); Es Baluard, Palma de Mallorca, Spain (2009); Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (2008).