Clara Menéres

Learn about the artist's universe through a text accompanied by a selection of works from the exhibition “All I want – Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020”

By Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes

Lapis Cognicionis (1987) by Clara MenéresCalouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Within the genealogy of pop art, the provocative initial works of Clara Menéres gave rise to some controversy in the artistic scene of a country still deeply mired in dictatorship. In spectacular figurations of hyper-realistic detail, scale and intense chromaticism, these works explicitly referred to the concealment of child prostitution, to the constant arrival of dead young soldiers from the trenches of the Colonial War, and to the subordination of the sexuality and living conditions of women in a country ruled under a dominant machismo culture. 

Lapis Cognicionis (1987) by Clara MenéresCalouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Lapis Cognicionis, 1987
Limestone from Pero Pinheiro and fluorescent tube light
180 x 53 x 30 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 88E906

Rose II (1987) by Clara MenéresOriginal Source: Collection Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto

Her feminist struggle against the patriarchy would continue in the Portuguese post-revolutionary period, culminating with the organisation in 1977 of an important exhibition of works either by women artists or which paid homage to the female body, invoking the latter’s mythical-religious treatment in ancient cults related to fecundity and life cycles.

Rose II (1987) by Clara MenéresOriginal Source: Collection Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto

Her approach of ritualisation of the sacred intensified in 1980 when a revelation of a mystical nature led the artist to embark on a less provocative body of work focused on formal and material essentialism. In 1987 she produced a series of works in stone and light. Deeply sensory in nature, these works explore ideas of transcendence and ecstasy, bringing together the crude and unpolished nature of marble stone with the luminous and tubular phosphorescence of neon lighting.

Rose II (1987) by Clara MenéresOriginal Source: Collection Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto

Rose II, 1987
Rose marble from Estremoz, neon light
112 x 170,5 x 52 cm
Collection Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, inv. SC 0107 

Credits: Story

Selection of works presented at the exhibition All I want: Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020, in its first moment at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, within the scope of the cultural program that takes place in parallel to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021.

Exhibition organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in co-production with the Center of Contemporary Creation Olivier Debré, Tours, and with the collaboration of the Plano Nacional das Artes (Portugal).

Curators:
Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand


Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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