April 2, 2009 - Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian – Délégation en France - Julio Pomar and Joana Vasconcelos
April 2, 2009

Julio Pomar and Joana Vasconcelos

© Gérard Castello-Lopes | © José M. Rodrigues | © DMF, Lisbonne /Atelier Joana Vasconcelos

À la mode de chez nous

9 April – 12 June 2009

Calouste Gulbenkian Cultural Centre
51, avenue d’Iéna,
75016 Paris


The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation asked Júlio Pomar to choose an artist from the young generation in order to present together their work in Paris. Thus, this exhibition shows the works of Júlio Pomar and those of Joana Vasconcelos – two big names of the Portuguese art scene – and offers two contemporary visions of the cultural heritage of their country.


The exhibition is articulated around the work of the famous Portuguese ceramist Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro and the Fábrica de Faianças of Caldas da Rainha, one of the oldest and most renowned ceramic manufactures of Portugal, founded by the artist in 1884 and still operating. Starting from the ceramist’s old molds, Júlio Pomar and Joana Vasconcelos revisited Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro’s heritage, giving it new configurations and new uses.

Júlio Pomar used several molds from Bordalo Pinheiro’s bestiary to create his own fantastic one. He has thus created five assemblages to which he has given first names – Joana, Ezequiel, Judite, Suzy, and José – bringing them closer to the human race, as he has always done with the animals that inhabit his artistic route.

After the original drawings of Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro and following the traditional methods of fabrication, Joana Vasconcelos restores a precise selection of the ceramist’s animals. She chooses beasts seen as powerful or threatening and clothes them in crocheted cotton, of diverse colors and stitches. Through this symbolically feminine act, Joana Vasconcelos tames these mythic and mythicized beasts.

The two artists’ approaches are fundamentally different: whereas Joana Vasconcelos’ work is led by an expansive logic as to its conception and assembling, contention, on the contrary, rules Júlio Pomar’s creative act.

In order to make this opposition evident, two other Joana Vasconcelos’ recent pieces are shown. Red Independent Heart 2 is inspired by the “Viana’s heart”, a traditional Portuguese jewel that brings luck to the newly wedded brides. Joana Vasconcelos reconstructs these filigree hearts using plastic forks. Hanging from the ceiling, this gigantic heart spins slowly to the music of a fado sung by Amália Rodrigues.

Contamination is shown as an abstract sculpture, a many-armed octopus-like textile body that adapts its dimensions and shapes to the space display of the Centre culturel Calouste Gulbenkian. Invading the Centre’s main staircase, its arms take charge of the room, wind around the house handrail and spread themselves upon its steps.

Curator: Lúcia Marques


Júlio Pomar is among the major Portuguese artists of the 20th century. Many retrospectives, in Lisbon, Brussels, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and New York, have allowed a large public to discover his work, which includes paintings, drawings, collages and sculptures.

Júlio Pomar’s work is represented at the Modern Art Center collection, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. His first major retrospective exhibition was shown there in 1978 and in 1984, the exhibition One year of drawings – four poets in the Lisbon subway. In 1986-1987, the Gulbenkian Foundation promotes the anthology Pomar/Brazil, shown in Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Lisbon.

Joana Vasconcelos is one of the foremost artists in the Portuguese contemporary art scene today. Mixing nostalgia and irony, Joana Vasconcelos questions her country’s identity and popular culture. Her sculptures and installations draw their inspiration from the kitsch and traditional Portuguese imagery and force us to think about the taboos of the female sexuality, the place of women or the consumer’s society.

Joana Vasconcelos took part in the 2005 Venice Biennial. Her work has been regularly shown for the last 15 years, in solo and group exhibitions in Portugal and abroad. A la mode de chez nous is her first exhibition at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Calouste Gulbenkian Cultural Centre
51, avenue d’Iéna, 75016 Paris
Ph: +33 (0) 1 53 23 93 93
Monday to Friday 9 am to 5:30 pm

Press contact: jasmin.uhlig@gulbenkian-paris.org, 01 53 23 93 78

Calouste Gulbenkian Cultural Centre

Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian – Délégation en France
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