Joao Penalva

Joao Penalva

Ludwig Museum—Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest

November 2, 2005

Joao Penalva
3 November 2005 - 15 January 2006

Ludwig Museum Museum of Contemporary Art
H-1095 Budapest, Komor Marcell u. 1.
Tel: 36 1 555 3444
Fax: 36 0 555 3458

Ludwig Museum Museum of Contemporary Art

LM44/EB61, 1995. Courtesy Collection Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto. © Photo: S. Starling.

Portuguese born (1949), London-based artist Joao Penalvas large scale exhibition at the Ludwig Museum Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, reflects the breath and variety of his artistic languages and guises.

The specificity of Penalvas work may lie in the exuberance of written and oral narratives in the most heterogeneous and surprising of contexts, leading his viewers to the awareness of their role as interpreters, translators and decoders of their fragmentary perceptions.

Having started his artistic career in the late 1970s as a dancer in dance companies such as that of Pina Bausch, the performative gesture, or the body as a site of narratives is never too far from his work. This selection of works ranges from the artists heroic feat of whistling Stravinskys complete Rite of Spring which he presents as an amusing and absurd act of stubbornness during eighteen months of hard work to the delicate, almost invisible, video imagery of pine trees in a foggy landscape as a documentary of an untold place. In between there is a whole world of story-telling, where photographic images merge with wall texts much too long to be easily browsed, much too short and visual to resemble literature as we know it. The way Penalva uses visuality and the history of representation makes the viewer aware once again of the culturally determined and coded nature of the gaze.

Well known for his one hour long films spoken in lesser known languages, such as Russian, Japanese, Esperanto or Hungarian, Penalva revels in the twist of writing in English, having his texts translated and spoken into other languages, and reintroducing his original English texts as subtitles to their translation.

When told that his work Kitsune, 2001, filmed in Madeira, truly looked Japanese, Penalva replied: If it looks like Kurosawa, it does so because you hear the language of a Kurosawa film. Were I to use the same image with Swedish actors, Bergman would be your cultural reference and you would immediately identify it as unmistakably Swedish

João Penalva has represented Portugal in the Bienal de S.Paulo in 1996, and the Venice Biennale in 2001, and exhibited in Europe, Asia and North America.

The exhibition Joao Penalva is a collaboration between Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Oporto, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, and Irish Museum of Modern Art. A 264 pp., full colour book, designed by the artist with Ines Sena is available. ISBN 972-739-154-0.

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Ludwig Museum—Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest
November 2, 2005

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