FOCUS: Portugal

Claire de Santa Coloma, Untitled, 2017
French oak, 150 x 20 x 20 cm. Photo: Bruno Lopes
Courtesy of the artist and 3+1 Arte Contemporânea

Rita Ferreira, Queria morrer anonimamente no deserto, 2017
Oil on paper and brass structure, poliptych(7x) 54 x 40 x 15 cm. Photo: Francisco Ferreira
Courtesy of the artist and 3+1 Arte Contemporânea


Vasco Barata, AnaMary Bilbao, Mauro Cerqueira, Claire de Santa Coloma, Rita Ferreira, Henrique Pavao, Silvestre Pestana, Hernani Reis Baptista, Sandra Rocha, Jonathan Uliel Saldanha, Ana Santos Flavia Vieira

Curated by João Ribas

Special support by Art Toronto Institutional Partner, The Ministry of Culture of Portugal

FOCUS: Portugal presents a selection of works by artists from the participating Portuguese galleries of Art Toronto 2019, representing some of the most significant artists and galleries in the current vibrant Portuguese arts scene. The exhibition features practices that reflect the variety of approaches and media within contemporary art in Portugal, including painting, sculpture, drawing, and moving image. The works on view propose different forms of engagement with urgent and critical issues in contemporary art and culture, from tourism and gentrification, to identity and technology. With a resurgence of a number of institutions and galleries in Portugal converging with a generation of artists with a global perspective, contemporary Portuguese artists are beginning to receive more visibility internationally. The selection of works presented, drawn from some of the most significant galleries in the country, reflect the vitality and relevance of these practices at a local and international level. 

As a form of social and material archeology, the politicized work of Mauro Cerqueira affirms the value and integrity of the precarious, marginal, disinvested or abandoned--socially, architecturally, and economically--through sculptures, video, drawings, and installation. Adriano Costa shapes a variety of materials, including bronze, wood, and found objects, to engage questions of value and processes of how materials are transformed into art. Claire de Santa Coloma's sculptures address the possibilities of sculpture itself, exploring traditional sculptural concerns of torsion, weight, and balance, and the relation between objects and space. The paintings of Rita Ferreira hold a tension between representation, figuration, abstraction, and expression, in the use of detail, scale, and unconventional supports. Time, media, and memory underscore the work of Henrique Pavão in video and photography. In Flavia Vieira’s work, concept and craft converge in the use of natural materials and pigments drawn from Brazil. The work of Vasco Barata utilises a variety of media including photography, drawing and sculpture, as an investigation into the construction and perception of images and visual meaning. The work of Hernani Reis Baptista displaces, re-constructs, and abstracts the relation between the body and materials in different mediums. Jonathan Uliel Saldanha works with the visceral and numinous dimensions of sound and image through music, movement, video, and installation. Material and historical memory, in its circulatory and repetitive form, are the centre of AnaMary Bilbao’s work in drawing and photography. Sandra Rocha’s photography-based work reflects on the relation between humans and elements of nature. One of the most pioneering artists in Portugal, Silvestre Pestana is a poet, artist, and performer who has created a singular body of work in a variety of media since the late 1960s, using video, computing, and other technologies during his decades-long engagement with the political and technological systems that permeate contemporary life.


Hernâni Reis Baptista, Rampa de salto | Jumping ramp, 2017
Iron, cement, rope and fabric strip, 205 x 214 x 42 cm
Courtesy of the artist and KUBIKGALLERY.

Offsite Programming

Janela, LIS > YYZ
Curated by Luiza Teixeira de Freitas

Nadia Belerique, Tomas Cunha Ferreira, Fernanda Fragateiro, Jorge Queiroz and Luis Lázaro Matos

As an extensionof Focus: Portugal at Art Toronto, Independent Lisbon-based curator, Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, will stage a Toronto based version of her curatorial project, Janela ( "Window" in Portuguese). In Portugal, the project consists of inviting artists to intervene in a plant shop window in the Madragoa neighbourhood of Lisbon, offering a moment of pause or interruption for the daily passerby. Past participants include: Igor Jesus, Luis Lazaro Matos, Jorge Queiroz, Gabriel Abrantes, Mauro Cerqueira, Maria Klabin and Celine Condorelli. Currently, the curator is working on upcoming projects with artists Sara Bichão, Fernanda Fragateiro, Tomas Cunha Ferreira and Julião Sarmento. 

For Toronto,Teixeira de Freitas has invited Portuguese and Canadian-Portuguese artists to engage the windows of Little Portugal. Participating local businesses include: 

The Citizen Room (Tomas Cunha Ferreira), Saudade (Jorge Queiroz), The Unboxed Market (Nadia Belerique), The World's Smallest Hat Shop (Luis Lázaro Matos) and Miss Pippa's (Fernanda Fragateiro). 


João Ribas, FOCUS: Portugal Curator

About the Curator

João Ribas is a writer and curator based in Porto. He was previously Director of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, where he also held the position of Deputy Director and Senior Curator (2014-2018). He was previously curator of the MIT List Visual Arts Center (2009-13) and of the Drawing Center, New York (2007-09). Ribas won four consecutive AICA awards for Best Exhibition (2008-2011) and the Emily Hall Tremaine Exhibition Award (2010). His writing on art and culture has been published in numerous publications, monographs, and magazines such as Artforum, Afterall, Artnews, Art in America, Frieze, Mousse, The Exhibitionist, Spike, and The Guardian, and his edited volume In the Holocene, on art and science, was published by Sternberg Press (2014). Ribas has taught at Yale University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts in New York, and is a lecturer in the Master’s Program in Cinema at the School of the Arts, Catholic University, Porto, and in Media Art at Lusófona University, Porto. Ribas was the curator of the 4th Ural Biennial, 2007, and of the Portuguese Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, 2019.