Students in our C1: Advanced course recently wrote articles based on a well known representative of their country. To kick start our series of articles about Portuguese icons, here’s what one student had to say about the artist Joana Vasconcelos…
Joana Vasconcelos, Portugal’s Rising Artist
Joana Vasconcelos is an acclaimed contemporary artist who has achieved global recognition for her innovative and peculiar work. She was born in Paris, in 1971, where her parents took refuge after coming from Mozambique. After the 25th of April Revolution, they moved to Lisbon, where they started living and working.
Her work is widely known for its eccentricity and unconventionality as she uses ordinary objects from everyone’s daily life and gives them a brand new meaning. Amongst her catalogue of work are remarkable sculptures such as shoe made of pots. Colour and texture are also paramount in her art.
Her work has been shown in numerous places such as Japan, São Paulo, Moscow and Versailles, where she was the first and youngest female artist to present an exhibition. What is more, her exhibition in Palácio Nacional da Ajuda was also the most ever visited show in her native country. Recognition of her art has also led to her having been awarded several prizes.
However, Joana Vasconcelos’ work tends to divide opinion because of how singular it is. No more so than in here in Portugal. Portugal’s preference for what’s traditional and conventional explains why it took some time for Portuguese people to appreciate her work and why she first became famous in other countries.
Something that I admire about Vasconcelos is how she is able to share aspects of Portugal’s traditions with the world, but at the same time depict new elements in our society. She does this due to the ease with which she is able to mix popular culture with what is, in a way, slightly more erudite. For example, the odd animals she creates out of crochet (the animals being what’s modern and the crochet what’s traditional). Even though it is sometimes hard for me to understand what she is trying to convey with her work I still find myself astonished at her vivid imagination.
Because of this, I believe she is not only one of the most influential artists in Portugal but also one of the most influential people in the country.
Want to know more about Joana Vasconcelos? Here are a few links to videos that might be of interest. The first includes an interview with the artist in English.