Joana Rosa

Lisboa, 1959

The artist bases her work on doodles or scribbles, as she describes them, alluding to the impetuous nature of universal actions such as “breaking a match between your teeth, fiddling with an empty sugar sachet in a café or sucking and biting a pen”.

Joana Rosa draws in an automatic fashion, favouring form over content. Some drawings end up drenched in detail, fantastical and replete with colour; others, rendered in lead and graphite on tracing paper, are colossal, monumental creations. The latter, in macerated black, stem from the practice of overlapping, concealing and uncovering layers. When we delve deep into them, we uncover mechanical forms, intimate writings and appropriated drawings.

Such fragments are crumpled, overlaid, stapled and stuck to the wall at the point of installation, based on a sweeping and highly performative conception of space that is informed by the artist’s past experience as a dancer.

Rosa couples her interdisciplinary approach with a penchant for collecting, classifying and cataloguing appropriated objects and texts, creating a veritable archive of actions and notes that map visceral human behaviour.

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