Magazine article Artforum International

Helena Almeida: Centro Cultural De Belem

Magazine article Artforum International

Helena Almeida: Centro Cultural De Belem

Article excerpt

"Pes no Chao, Cabeca no Ceu" (Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds) encom-passes thirty-five years of work in which, between the studio floor and the blue sky, everything passed through the body of Helena Almeida. In the '60s the artist began questioning the material and conceptual elements that constitute the definition of painting. In the '70s she abandoned traditional modes of depiction to undertake an array of practices whose point of departure is her own body. It all begins "inside me"--"Dentro de Mim," as the title of a series of photographs from 2000-2001 says--not in the psychological sense of a subjectivity that expresses itself, but in the performative sense of material (the body) presenting itself.

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Almeida creates successive series of black-and-white photographs of herself. The photos register moments of the action of moving about, painting, or drawing in the studio--not painting or drawing by traditional means, perhaps, but through actions that transform movements into a work of art. In the series "Pintura Habitada" (Inhabited Painting), 1975-77, and "Desenho Habitado" (Inhabited Drawing), 1975, we see the artist in the act of painting or drawing, holding in her hand the brush or pencil from which flow streams of blue paint or black thread that, above or emerging from the surface of the photograph, possesses a real physical presence. The video Sente-me, Ouve-me, Vi-me (Feel Me, Hear Me, See Me), 1978-80, reveals the performance dimension of the work that precedes the photos.

Almeida's transdisciplinary dynamic leads not only to an abandonment of the traditional artistic practices but to the progressive awareness of the necessity of making the passage from oneself to others. …

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