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Joana Vasconcelos

Le Château des Valkyries

01.05. - 03.11.2024

Exhibitions at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Palace of Versailles, the Uffizi in Florence, and, last but not least, her spectacular contributions to the 2005 and 2013 Venice Biennales have made her a globally sought-after artist whose sensual, theatrical works fascinate and enchant her audiences. Joana Vasconcelos, born in Paris in 1971, creates works that blend art, fashion, and design with ease and in unique, compelling ways.

The Schleswig-Holstein State Museums are dedicating the most extensive exhibition in Germany to the Portuguese artist to date. Ten room-filling installations can be seen on the Museum Island in Schleswig, including the Valkyries Marina Rinaldi, Martha and Thyra. Another monumental work - Ostfriesland - is on display at the Ornamental Cast Iron Museum in Büdelsdorf. The exhibition shows the many facets of Vasconcelos's artistic oeuvre.

An exhibition at two locations - in Schleswig and in Büdelsdorf

This became evident once again in the spring of 2023, when Vasconcelos caused a sensation at Paris Fashion Week with her monumental installation Valkyrie Miss Dior. Serving as the backdrop for the presentation of Dior’s Autumn/Winter 2023‒2024 Collection, this expansive floral, tentacle-like installation, a masterful homage to Catherine Dior, the designer’s sister, delighted the assembled fashion world.

At the subsequent Milan Furniture Fair, the renowned French furniture company Roche Bobois presented the Bombom Collection of colourful sofas and other home accessories based on designs by Vasconcelos.

And finally, social media as well as art and design magazines brimmed with accounts of the gigantic Wedding Cake which the Portuguese artist had created for the gardens of Lord Jacob Rothschild’s Waddesdon Manor in southern England: a twelve metre high, three-storey, walk-in wedding cake, a cross between confectionery and architecture made of 25,000 Portuguese tiles that, assembled, presented a playfully ironic monument to love.

What to expect in Büdelsdorf... 

Joana Vasconcelos, whose parents returned to Portugal from exile in France after the Carnation Revolution of 1974, sees herself as an artistic ambassador for her country. Her work is informed by an appreciation of traditional Portuguese crafts and handicraft techniques, which she puts into new contexts, reinterprets, and presents to the world. In doing so, she questions stereotypical notions of what is perceived as women’s art and embarks on digressions into Portuguese architectural, stylistic, and colonial history. As a result, her work frequently features painted and glazed ceramic tiles, so-called azulejos, which refer to the cultural legacy of the Moorish period on the Iberian Peninsula. Much of her work is also characterised by the use of traditional handicrafts such as sewing, knitting, embroidery, crochet, and lacemaking, as well as a keen sense of exuberant ornamentation.

What to expect in Schleswig...

The term ‘Baroque’ is of crucial importance to the artist. Derived from the Portuguese word barroco, the word originally referred to irregular or asymmetrically shaped pearls. In the sixteenth century, Jewish jewellers  spread the word around the world, and in Europe it gradually came to describe anything special, eccentric, strange, or bizarre. 

Baroque art is characterised by opulent, splendid imagery, dynamic compositions, movement, and drama as well as expansive touches, richness of detail, emotionality, and illusionistic effects ‒ features that also eminently apply to the work of Joana Vasconcelos. Her Valkyries in particular, pneumatic textile installations that may occupy a wide variety of architectural settings, combine Baroque opulence and sensuality with self-confident statements of femininity, emancipation, and feminism.

Under the patronage of the Portuguese Ambassador

 S.E. Francisco Ribeiro de Menezes

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Schleswig-Holstein State Museums
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