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Ana Vieira

Coimbra, 1940 – Lisboa, 2016

Contemplation of the body and space and the deconstruction of the mechanisms by which art is sanctified and received are concerns that run through the entirety of Ana Vieira’s work. Her career has been marked by disciplinary complexity and a feel for the poetic that spans theatre, painting, sculpture, photography, sound, environment and installation.

The titles of her exhibitions from 1968 onwards denote the nature of the work on display. Imagens Ausentes [Absent Images] and Ambiente [Milieu] explore dichotomies such as public/private, presence/absence, interior/exterior and transparency/opacity. In a dining room, plates, cutlery and glasses are laid out neatly on a table, which is surrounded by chairs. The public hears but cannot see a familiar setting; it is off-limits to them. They find themselves expecting a scene that never happens. A mesh prevents viewers from accessing the work, thus making the constraints associated with the customary public experience of art part of the work itself.

Variously using cut-out silhouettes, projected outlines, hidden objects, revealed rooms, a corridor once walked down, a longed-for house and a volcano crossed by lights, Ana Vieira’s scenography moves from the gallery to public spaces, and even out into the natural landscape of the Azores, where she grew up. Her works are gradually scaled up so that our bodies become inscribed onto them as we are urged to traverse and inhabit them.

Lígia Afonso
[Plano Nacional das Artes and Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian]
Curator, teacher and researcher born in Lisbon in 1981
Text originally written for Google Arts & Culture apropos the exhibition “All I Want, Portuguese Women Artists from 1900 to 2020”, curated by Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand
Courtesy Ana Vieira Estate © Alberto Plácido