The exhibition “Corpus” presents an ensemble of works—painting, photography, video and drawing—produced by the artist from the 1960s to the present day.
February 9th – May 22nd 2016
Jeu de Paume in Paris
In these works, the body registers, occupies and defines the space and plays a central role. The exhibition has a retrospective dimension, spanning the different phases of the artist’s career, from her earliest pieces dating from the mid-1960s up until her more recent work.
Born in 1934 in Lisbon, where she still lives and works today, Helena Almeida studied painting at the Fine Arts Department of the University of Lisbon. From the beginning of her career, she has explored and questioned traditional forms of expression, particularly painting, in an attempt to transgress the space demarcated by the pictorial plane.
Although little-known in France, Helena Almeida is considered to be one of the greatest contemporary Portuguese artists. Her long career has allowed her to gain a reputation from the 1970s onward as one of the leading figures of performance and conceptual art, notably for her participation in large international events such as the Venice Biennales of 1982 and 2005.
Following her early three-dimensional works, the artist found in photography a means of overcoming the exteriority of painting, and of allowing “being” and “doing” to coexist in the same medium, “as if I were continuing to affirm: my painting is my body, my work is my body”. Beyond the poetic and metaphorical readings that this work can inspire, it can be seen as an attempt at attaining the limits of a medium, whether photography, performance or sculpture.
The body in Almeida’s work becomes both a sculptural form and a space, object and subject, signifier and signified. The artist’s work is a summary, an act that has been carefully staged, and one that is highly poetic. The representations of these actions also show the context in which Almeida positioned herself. Facing the camera, she refuses that her pictures become self-portraits. She represents primarily her body, but it is a universal body.