Helena Almeida in WIELS

I am glad that I have enrolled in the practical side of the arts again. School encourages me to visit exhibitions which is why I found the time to go to WIELS and admire the exhibition of Helena Almeida, ‘Corpus‘. Inside the walls of the museum they thought out a structure to show the grand fases in Almeida her work. From the redefining way of the art of painting, to photography and video. 

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Helena Almeida (°1934), a Portugese artist who is mostly mentioned as an artist very crucial to the Portugese, performance art world. Her name wasn’t present in my head, but after this exhibition it will stay there for a while. WIELS shows a retrospective of her work and piece after piece my fascination became bigger. 

In her early work she explores the tradtional forms of expressions, more specifically painting. There was a fascination for the limitation of the canvas. She tries to break out of this tradition by redefining the structure. As seen in the piece above, it shows Almeida walking around a canvas, as soon as she walks in front of the wooden structure of the canvas she starts to wear the linen. The three pieces below also belong to this category and speak for themselves. The canvas expands beyond the frame on the left one, the middle shows a canvas that’s rolled up as a curtain and the right one isn’t really clear to see in this photo, but it opens up like a book. I really like these pieces, not only because of the inventfullness, but the esthetical side plays parts aswell. 

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A reappearing aspect in her work is her own body. She experimented with photography and later on with video. When I saw her work for the first time I was fascinated by the way she combines photography and painting, as seen in these black and white photos merged with blue strokes. As the catalogue of WIELS describes this process “Through photography, she creates a powerful relationship between representation (the act of painting or drawing) and presentation (of her own body as the ‘support’ of her gesture)” 

These pieces aren’t supposed to be seen as selfportraits, rather as  “My work is my body, my body is my work.”

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The following series Almeida started incorporating horsehair in her photography. By introducing horsehair in her work she creates sculptural drawings. 

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At the end of the 70s her interest shifted from experimenting with form, line and colour to perfomative pieces. “Almeida started to use painting materials as an extension of her body, and to have herself photographed in the process.

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There’s so much more to say about this exhibition, but i’ll leave it at this. I am glad that I found the time to visit this exhibition. The WIELS really didn’t disappoint in their presentation.

The exhibition runs until the 11th of December 2016.

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