A new site-specific sculptural installation. Vasconcelos incorporates objects and materials from daily life into large, intricate and colourful assemblages that explore issues of identity, politics of gender, religion, class and nationality.
Haunch of Venison presents a new site-specific sculptural installation by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Following her celebrated exhibition at Château de Versailles and the announcement that she will represent Portugal at the2013 Venice Biennale, Joana Vasconcelos has created a site-specific installation of large–scale sculptural works that fill the spaces of Haunch of Venison’s Mayfair gallery.
In this exhibition, and frequently in her work, Vasconcelos incorporates objects and materials from daily life into large, intricate and colourful assemblages that explore issues of identity, politics of gender, religion, class and nationality.
In the first gallery space is Full Steam Ahead (Red #1), a sculpture constructed in the shape of a water lily with a steam iron in place of each petal. The petals of the sculpture open and close, mimicking the movement of a real flower, emitting steam as the iron plates reach vertical position.
The second and third galleries are filled with giant constructivist-inspired, brightly tiled structures that resemble the block graphics from the retro computer game Tetris. Each of the tiled blocks is punctured by long textile tentacles that weave and meander around the rigid structures. This series is made up of four groups differentiated by the style of tile used to cover each surface: Tetris 17th Century use replicas of original 17th century tiles; Luso Tetris are made with smaller tiles illustrated with different figurative and rural Portuguese motifs; Tetris Waves references both Great Britain and Portugal’s special relationship with the sea with wave patterned tiles; and Tetris Keil is an homage to the late Portuguese artist Maria Keil known for the use of decorative tiles in her work.
In the upper gallery a large textile form, covered in a patchwork of traditional Portuguese fabrics, is suspended from the skylight, with huge tendrils that trail up the gallery’s staircase from the gallery below conjoining with the sculptural forms in the second and third galleries. The work, titled Valkyrie Crown, celebrates monarchy and in particular the British Monarchy and Queen Elizabeth II in her Jubilee year. The work is part of the Valkyrie series, started in 2004, that references a Norse mythological female character that decides who lives or dies in battle. This series of sculptures combine issues of nationality and womanhood, themes that are fundamental to Vasconcelos’ work.
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