Portrait of Joana Vasconcelos, image via swatch.com

Joana Vasconcelos

Portugal 1971

Installation, Sculpture, Performance Art, Photography, Video Art


Joana Vasconcelos
Joana Vasconcelos
August 26, 2013
Bojan is an author for Widewalls. He is particularly interested in English linguistics and culture. Bojan is also interested in Photography and Digital Art.

The occupation with ephemeral and theatrical effect in the work of Joana Vasconcelos is a strategy conceived to provoke and question social and political implications of everyday life. The way she conducts her large-scale projects based on working with delicate materials makes her practice aimed at examining the notion and heritage of female crafts. By devoting oeuvre of hers to the signification of problematic places of gender or class seclusion, Vasconcelos has derived herself from just being a commercial artist, rather the effort of careful thinking and cunning processing make her practice relevant and progressive in terms of the global art scene.

The exhibition of objects titled Valkyrie are also made by the use of crochet technique
Joana Vasconcelos – Marilyn (AP), 2011

Becoming Referential Artist

Joana Vasconcelos was born in Paris, in 1971. Her parents fled from Portugal due to the dictatorship of infamous Salazar which was present at the time. While growing up she was inclined in passion for both karate and art. Some years later, since the family returned to Lisbon after the changes Vasconcelos studied at Centre of Art and Visual Communication from 1989 – 96. The startling focus and dedication led her to exhibit rapidly from 1994 onward around the Europe and over the years established recognizable aesthetics.[2]

The tradition of female craft transferred in modern context

Joana Vasconcelos – Independent Heart (Gold, Black, Red), 2004, 2005, 2006

Delivering The Message

Joana Vasconcelos approaches the process of work with diligence and uses methods of appropriation and deconstruction of different references in order to gain the greatest results albeit condition by the media she is engaged with. Whether it is an installation, sculpture or video, Vasconcelos operates with the displacement of meanings and relevance of what is and can be feminist work of art. There is a strong resemblance with the art of Pop art and Nouveau Realisme. By being critical about consumerist society, traditional canons of representation or colonialism, the artist inscribes coherent narratives which are dealing with contemporaneity.

Deconstructing symbols of patriarchal power

The artist was in constant contact with the press around the world regarding her exhibitions
Joana Vasconcelos – Call Center, 2014-16

Versailles and Venice Bienalle

Two major events that changed the course of Vasconcelos’s career happened year after year and provided the possibility for her work to become visible on the international scale. In 2005 the artist showed the work titled The Bride on Venice Bienalle and it was a humongous chandelier made of over thousands OB tampons. In 2012 she was summoned as the first woman and the youngest contemporary artist to exhibit in the Palace of Versailles. That was followed by the subtle attempt at censorship since some of her pieces were too indecent for the palace, which did not jeopardize her determination to manage the whole installment and was a complete success.[2]

The artist is known for the use of wool, fabrics and crochet

In 2010 and 2011 Joana has displayed fascinating sculptural collection for her exhibition and press
Joana Vasconcelos – Valkyrie Ran, 2016

Socially Active and Public Art

In the past following years, Vasconcelos realized several public art interventions mostly in Portugal and Paris, and her colorful objects became part of private and public collections, from Museum of Art in Seoul, over respectable institutions in France and Spain, to National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC. The complete success the artist achieved with her floating work, a boat installation, on 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, which represents the high range in regards to deployment of her career. Exuberant, witty and alluring objects and installations show the continuum of polished and well-thought practice which substantially embedded in contemporary social and political topics.

Joana Vasconcelos lives and works in Lisbon.


  1. Strategy, J. (2014): Animal and Insect Sculptures Wrapped in Crocheted Webbing by Joana Vasconcelos, This Is Colossal [Decembre 06 2016]
  2. Cue, E. (2015):Interview With Joana Vasconcelos, Huffington Post [Decembre 06 2016]

Featured image: Portrait of Joana Vasconcelos, photo credit Swatch
All other images courtesy of the artist

YearExhibition TitleGallery/Museum Solo/Group 
2015Material WorldPhillips, LondonSolo
2015Joana Vasconcelos MGM Macau, MacauSolo
2015 Giardino dell’Eden: Swatch Faces 201556th International Art Exhibition– la Biennale di VeneziaSolo
2015Lafite Waddesdon Manor - The Rothschild Foundation, Buckinghamshire, United KingdomSolo
2014 Valkyrie Marina RinaldiPalazzo Bocconi, Milan, ItalySolo
2014CasarãoCasa Triângulo, São PauloSolo
2014Time MachineManchester City Galleries, Manchester, UKSolo
2013Lusitana Tel Aviv Museum of Art , IsraelSolo
2013Futur Simple, Saison 1, FRAC Bourgogne, Les Bains du Nord, Dijon, FranceGroup
2011Magic Kingdom Kunsthallen Brandts, OdenseSolo
2011The World Belongs to YouPalazzo Grassi, VeniceSolo
2011Res PublicaCentenário da República, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, LisbonSolo
2011Big Brother: L´Artiste Face aux TyransPalais des Arts et du Festival, Dinard, FranceGroup
2010I Will SurviveHaunch of Venison, LondonSolo
2010Sem Rede, Museu Colecção Berardo, LisbonSoloSolo
2010Contemporary Eye: CrossoversPallant House, Chichester, EnglandGroup
2009À la Mode de Chez Nous: Júlio Pomar et Joana Vasconcelos, Centre Culturel Calouste, Gulbenkian, ParisSolo
2009Un Certain État du Monde? A Selection of Works From François Pinault Foundation CollectionGarage Centre for Contemporary Culture, MoscowGroup
2009Mi Vida – Heaven and Hell – The Musac Collection in Budapes Mücsarnok Kunsthalle, BudapestGroup
2008Contaminação Projecto Octógono de Arte Contemporânea, Pinacoteca do Estado, São PauloSolo
2008Où le Noir Est Couleur Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris; L’Argent, Le Plateau, ParisSolo
2008 No Más Héroes (Colección VIII) ARTIUM - Centro - Museo Vasco de Arte Contemporáneo, Vitoria - Gasteiz, SpainGroup
2007Joana VasconcelosThe New Art Gallery WalsallSolo
2007 Yellow Brick RoadPalazzo Nani Bernardo Lucheschi, VeniceSolo
2007A Ilha dos Amores Galeria Mario Mauroner, ViennaSolo
2007 Modern MahremSantralistanbul, Istanbul, TurkeyGroup
2006Espais ObertsCaixa Fórum, Fundación La Caixa, BarcelonaSolo
2006 Paradiso & InfernoMario Mauroner Contemporary Art, Salzburg, AustriaGroup
2006Venice – IstanbulIstanbul Modern,IstanbulGroup
2006Echigo Tsumari Triennial TokamachiGroup
2005 Joana VasconcelosInstituto Camões, Paris, FranceSolo
2005Always a Little Further La Bienalle di Venezia, Arsenale, VeniceGroup
2005 L’Idiotie - Expérience Pommery #2Pommery, ReimsGroup
2004 Joana VasconcelosGaleria Casa Triângulo, São Paulo, BrazilSolo
2004MarquiseJoana Vasconcelos, Galeria 111, Porto, PortugalSolo
200430 artists under 40The Stenersen Museum, Oslo, NorwayGroup
2003Todas las direccionesCentro Andaluz de Arte Contemporâneo, Sevilla, SpainSolo
2003Non Stop OpeningGaleria Zé dos Bois, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2002 Happy Lady Galeria Mário Sequeira, Braga, PortugalSolo
2002Connecting WorldsContemporary Sculpture from The European Union, Washington DC, USAGroup
2001Medley, Galeria Central TejoMuseu da Electricidade, Lisbon, PortugalSolo
2001Non Stop OpeningGaleria Zé dos Bois, Lisbon, PortugalGroup
2000Ponto de Encontro Museu de Serralves, Porto, PortugalSolo
2000Inside Out (cat.) Galeria Presença, Porto, PortugalSolo
2000Joana VasconcelosSilo Espaço Cultural, Norteshopping, Porto, PortugalSolo
200045ème Salon de MontrougePorte Orleans, FranceGroup