contemporary art, Paris, photography, Porto

Helena Almeida, Artist Incarnate

1 Helena Almeida, A casa (la

Helena Almeida, A casa [The House], 1979, 40x29cm. Coll. Mario Sequeira

Helena Almeida’s exhibition, shown in Porto at the Serralves Foundation (October 17, 2015 – January 10, 2016) under the name “My work is my body, my body is my work”, is travelling to Paris: it will be presented at the Jeu de Paume, titled “Corpus” (February 9 – May 22, 2016). Finally, the body is addressed by the contemporary Portuguese art scene, which almost never does so, focusing instead on the concept, on humor, on history, and thus neglecting embodiment, and the (very few) artists who have made the body the focal point of their work (Helena Almeida, Jorge Molder also, and the occasional young artist, including Brazilians living in Portugal, like Lizi Menezes…). And this goes beyond contemporary art: I visited the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga with a friend a few days ago, which obviously features bodies in its collections of classical paintings and sculptures –but are those bodies naked? No way! In searching dutifully every nook and cranny of the Museum, I found one and only one female breast outrageously naked (save for a few Virgins breastfeeding, a few damned souls in hell, and a tiny allegory on ivory), by a Dutch painter. No Venuses, no Graces. Granted, this beautiful museum features, on the other hand, some Bosch, and more daring temporary exhibitions, but what a strange national puritanism in visual arts, not only concerning nudes but more simply the reluctance to give prominence to bodies (but this is not true for dance or film –if anyone can clue me in…). Continue reading

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