Helena Almeida (B. 1934)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Helena Almeida (B. 1934)

Pintura Habitada (Inhabited Painting)

Details
Helena Almeida (B. 1934)
Pintura Habitada (Inhabited Painting)
signed and dated 'Helena Almeida 76' (lower right); titled and dated (on the reverse); titled and dated '"Pintura habitada" 1976' (on the reverse)
acrylic on gelatin silver print
16½in x 20½in. (42 x 52cm.)
Executed in 1976, this work is unique
Provenance
Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

Lot Essay

Imbued with a vivid sense of motion and spatial depth, Pintura Habitada (Inhabited Painting) exemplifies Helena Almeida's unique formal and conceptual explorations of pictorial space and the presence of the artist within an artwork. Belonging to a celebrated series that has been included in major international exhibitions, most recently A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance at the Tate Modern earlier this year, Pintura Habitada is a black and white photograph of the artist herself, blurred with sudden movement, partially obscured behind a streak of vivid blue paint. Arm raised and face lifted, it is as if Almeida has just swiped the acrylic paint across the surface of the photograph from within. In this carefully constructed, complex composition, Almeida liberates colour from the canvas, conjuring depth from flatness and sparking stillness into action. Resisting the traditional logic of the medium, the paint exists as an act, and not just as a tool of representation.

Executed in 1976 during the height of the feminist movement, Pintura Habitada was conceived to test existing social and cultural boundaries as well as artistic ones. The dominant theme throughout Ameida's career has been her own body appearing in meticulously planned situations. In this respect it is in concert with the work of her contemporaries, such as Valie Export and Martha Rosler, who challenged the representation of the self in art using their own bodies. Although Almeida saw herself as a painter and all her work as paintings, the Portuguese artist found photography the perfect medium with which to question such social and artistic conventions. This work is characteristically transdisciplinary, combining performance, photography and painting, in the unique formal language that Almeida found best documented her investigations into physical and psychological emancipation.

Meticulously choreographed to create a complex visual experience, Almeida's work is as much about formal concerns - space, line, composition - as it is about the relationship between the artist and the creation of an image. Drawing attention to the presence of the artist in every artwork, Almeida's presence in this work shows her occupying the work itself, and yet simultaneously being subsumed by it. As she has said, 'I was my work. There was no distinction between the canvas, the dimension of the canvas, and me. There was no distinction between the inside or the outside. My inner self was my outer self and the my outer self was my inner self.'(H. Almeida, quoted in A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance, exh. cat., London, Tate, 2013.)

More from Post-War and Contemporary Art

View All
View All