Joana Vasconcelos: Où le noir est couleur

12 January - 1 March 2008 Cloître Saint-Merri I & II - Paris

Galerie Nathalie Obadia is very pleased to host the first exhibition in a gallery in France of the Portuguese artist, Joana Vasconcelos.
Born in 1971 in Paris to a family exiled under the Salazar dictatorship, she now lives and works in Lisbon.

The main characteristics of Joana Vasconcelos' work are the appropriation, citation and subversion of objects and elements from popular culture and mass production, most often from Portugal. It is also a critique of consumer society always in a poetic sense (fado music, sensual forms given to the diverted objects). Joana Vasconcelos incites us to a complicity with her works, towards the consciousness of a collective identity that concerns more particularly the status of women, the difference of social classes and the national identity.
For this exhibition, emblematic works of Joana Vasconcelos will be exhibited, which will allow a better understanding of her formal and conceptual vision.

"Independent Red Heart", 2008
This work highlights two symbols of Portuguese tradition, the Fado and the Heart of Viana. The sculpture is made from plastic cutlery which, reworked into fine delicate scrolls, gives rise to an original heart inspired by a local Portuguese tradition - the Heart of Viana - a small silver pendant handmade and worn by the women of Viana do Castelo.
The work turns slowly on itself, accompanied by fado music. The color red symbolizes passion, one of the themes dear to this deep song.

In this work, we see all the formal originality of Joana Vasconcelos who transcends the banal utensil to a symbolic and poetic meaning.

"Euphrosyne" "Thalie" "Aglaia", 2008
These three female sculptures are made of cement and manufactured in Portugal. Their shapes are reminiscent of the marble or bronze sculptures that used to adorn castles. They are feminine, graceful, sensual figures of women already "object". Joana Vasconcelos is going to give them another life by painting them often with bright colors, some at the limit of "good taste", making them pop like Warhol did with Botticelli's Venus. But with Joana Vasconcelos, there is also the will to oppose the status of femininity.
She chooses to imprison the whole body with old embroideries made by women from rural areas. The sculpture becomes a popular object again, an irony of the image of the free and sensual woman but caught up in her traditional role.

"www. Fatimashop " 2002
During a last visit to Paris in 2005 where she exhibited at the Passage du Désir, Joana Vasconcelos had bought an Eiffel Tower pen. "You have the Eiffel Tower, we have Fatima, these symbolic national icons that no longer have any cultural significance, except for their consumption. With the van she drives, filled with sculptures of Fatima, a very popular saint in Portugal, Joana Vasconcelos shows the symbolism of this idea that is no longer religious but only a popular and mercantile cement.

"Victoria", 2008 and "Big Booby", 2007

With her large, soft sculptures made of knitwear and multicolored fabrics, Joana Vasconcelos wants to mark the omnipresence of the popular tradition that goes beyond the borders of Portugal to those of old Europe. These knitted fabrics, as pervasive as the matriarchal culture in Portugal and in all the countries of the Mediterranean basin and Latin culture, have become sculptures, works of art. Joana Vasconcelos imposes this status in front of the very present traditional feminine handicraft which never enters the category of Fine Arts, a domain traditionally reserved to men.