The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents the first exhibition in Spain to be devoted to Joana Vasconcelos, without doubt the most internationally reputed Portuguese artist (although born in Paris in 1971) of her generation especially after her participation in the 2005 Venice Biennale and her major exhibition at the Palace of Versailles in 2010. Joana Vasconcelos. I’m Your Mirror, whose title is a tribute to Nico, the celebrated German vocalist who sang I’ll Be Your Mirror with the New York band The Velvet Underground, is a retrospective featuring some thirty pieces produced between 1997 and the present day. Some of the selected worksaare among the best known of her career, such as Burka (2002) and The Bride (2001–05), while others are more recent or have been created specially for this occasion, like the monumental Egeria (2018), installed in the Atrium. Two giant sculptures, Pop Rooster (2016) and Solitaire (2018), have also been set up outside the Museum.
Vasconcelos’s production contains references both to the popular culture of her country (appropriating the rooster of Barcelos, the heart of Viana do Castelo, and the ceramics of Bordalo Pinheiro) and to the most recent theoretical debates in contemporary art, especially those concerned with fostering viewer participation in the interpretation of artworks. The artist uses many materials from everyday life, such as household appliances, wall tiles, fabrics, medicines, urinals, pans, and plastic cutlery, exploiting the narrative and emotional charge they hold or release. Her sculptures, usually large-format works that sometimes have movement, sound, or lights are characterized by their chromatic richness and their exuberance. With an attractive sense of humor that shuns dogmatism, her work also explores issues of identity ranging from very intimate questions to universal sociopolitical themes linked to globalized postcolonial societies, such as migration or the exploitation of women.
(Photo: Joana Vasconcelos, I'll Be Your Mirror, 2018, Bronze and mirrors, 356 x 682 x 537 cm, Edition of 7 + 1 AP, Collection of the artist © Joana Vasconcelos, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018)