Almeida Bernardo; Butler Cornelia (ed.), Helena Almeida, exh. cat., Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto; Jeu de Paume, Paris; WIELS, Bruxelles, (16 October 2015 – 10 January 2016; 9 February – 22 May 2016; 8 September – 10 January 2016), Paris, Jeu de Paume; Porto, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves; Bruxelles, WEILS, 2000→
Carlos Isabel (ed.), Helena Almeida : tela rosa para vestir, exh. cat., Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, (19 November 2008 – 18 January 2009), Madrid, Fundación Telefónica, 2008→
de Corral Maria, Helena Almeida, exh. cat., Centro Galego de arte contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, (14 January – 19 March 2000), Santiago de Compostela, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, 2000
Helena Almeida, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Serralves, Porto; Jeu de Paume, Paris; WIELS, Bruxelles, 16 October 2015 – 10 January 2016; 9 February – 22 May 2016; 8 September – 10 January 2016→
Helena Almeida : tela rosa para vestir, Fundación Telefónica (Madrid), 19 November 2008 – 18 January 2009→
Helena Almeida, Centro Galego de arte contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela, 14 January – 19 March 2000
Portuguese photographer and visual artist.
Helena Almeida studied painting at the School of Fine Arts in Lisbon, where her first solo exhibition took place in 1967. As she says, “My work is my body, my body is my work.” While her work is sometimes described as body art, she uses a variety of mediums, photographs, performances, drawings, and videos, to question the nature of creation itself, its infinitesimal character. Her ambiguous attitudes, simple scenery, and poor accessories—metal wire, hemp, mirrors, powdered pigments, primitive clothing—contribute to austere and poetic displays of creation and the space in between. Mostly photographed without a face and often clad in clearly symbolic feminine clothing, like a dress, black skirt, and black high heels (Voar [Fly], 2001), she gives the self-portrait genre an additional layer. The intensity of the black and white images she creates, enhanced in certain strategic spots—inside her mouth, the soles of her feet, the palm of her hands—with blue or red paint, gives these studies a classical quality borrowed from another era (Estudo para um enriquecimento interior [Study for Inner Improvement], 1977).
How do we occupy space? What do our gestures say? What are we made of? Where are our physical limits? Through her minimalist performances, she explores the mysterious passage between the private and public spheres, between form and content, between the presence and absence of the body, between dream and reality, sensuality and spirituality, violence and seduction. While her work began to gain recognition from the art community in the late 1970s, she did not associate her approach to feminism, and freely admitted to the seductive quality of some of her images. Swallowing, secreting, hiding, and living the act of painting were her artistic ambitions. Since her exhibition at the Gulbenkian Foundation Modern Art Center (1987), she has exhibited her work in Porto (1995), Madrid (1997), New York (2004), Belém (2004). She also participated in several biennales, in São Paulo (1979), Venice—where she was officially representing her country—(1982), and Sydney (2004).
Helena Almeida, Pintura habitada [Inhabited painting], 1975, acrylic on photograph, 46 × 50 cm, Coll. Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, Desenho habitado [Inhabited drawing], 1975, black and white photograph, indian ink, horsehair, 60 × 55 cm, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, Tela Habitada [Inhabited canvas], 1976, 16 black and white photographies, 126.5 x 167.5 cm, 30 x 40 each, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, Dentro de mim [Inside of me], 2001, black and white photograph, 232 x 120 cm, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, Seduzir [To Seduce], 2002, black and white photograph, acrylic, 199 x 129.5 cm, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, O abraço [The Embraces], 2007, black and white photograph, 100 x 180 cm, © Arthur Rosa
Helena Almeida, Sem título [Untitled], 2003, black and white photograph, 134.5 x 129.5 cm, © Arthur Rosa