Lídia Lisboa

1970 | Guaíra, Brazil

Brazilian artist working in installation, performance, ceramic, textile and sculpture.

Lídia Lisboa is one of many Black artists that have emerged in the highly racially prejudiced South Region of Brazil, resulting from the “population whitening” agenda of the Brazilian government in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in the wake of the massive enslavement of people of African descent for hundreds of years. In 1986, at the age of 16, Lídia Lisboa moved to São Paulo where she dabbled in multiple creative activities, from modelling to practising in sewing ateliers and fashion studios. The crochet she learned in her childhood became a constant presence in her life as a creator. It greatly impacted her work, in which she explores all the plastic possibilities of weaving and sewing to create objects and installations articulating the realities of a Black Brazilian woman artist’s life experience.
L. Lisboa studied metal engraving at the Museu Lasar Segall in 1993, contemporary sculpture at the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (MuBE), ceramics at the São Paulo School of Arts and Crafts and Art History at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP). In 1997 she held her first solo exhibition at Goethe-Institut São Paulo, beginning a career that has now become a reference in the debate on what can be defined as “Afro-Brazilian / Afro-diasporic art”.

Ceramic is a constant medium in L. Lisboa’s work, as shown in the series titled Cupinzeiros [Termite mounds] (2013), in which terracotta forms evoke the small constructions termites build on grasslands and rural environments. L. Lisboa narrates and retells her own life history through these clusters of insects living in colonies, stating that this image was recurring in her childhood in the countryside of Brazil’s South Region. In Casulos [Cocoons] (2010-2015), L. Lisboa creates a sort of protective capsule for the feminine existence in a context of extreme violence, like that of Brazil. The series titled Tetas que Deram de Mamar ao Mundo [Breasts that suckled the world] (2020-), where L. Lisboa builds artifacts that resemble the breasts of primal mothers, serving a similar rhetoric. These huge structures of fabric hang from the ceiling in the exhibition rooms, brushing the floor. They invite the public to a singular experience with each of these pieces and with the space they shape around them.
L. Lisboa’s work has had a strong presence in exhibitions that display the contemporary production of Afro-Brazilian artists. Her work has been highlighted in important exhibitions such as PretAtitude: Emergence, Insurgency and Affirmation in Contemporary Afro-Brazilian Art (SESC São Paolo, 2018), Estratégias do Feminino (Farol Santander, São Paolo, 2019) and Carolina Maria de Jesus: Um Brasil para os Brasileiros (IMS Paulista, São Paulo, 2021-2022). Her work received the Maimeri 75 years Prize (1998) and the II National Prize for Afro-Brazilian Cultural Expressions (2012).

Igor Simões

A biography produced as part of “The Origin of Others” research programme, in partnership with the Clark Art Institute.

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