Maria José Oliveira

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 Museum

Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes

Body I (2019/2020) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Collection Maria José Oliveira

Maria José Oliveira first developed her work in ceramics before extending it to drawing, collage, jewellery, sculpture and installation, always reflecting a dual concern with nature and the body as concepts, materials, supports and models.

Body I (2019/2020) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Collection Maria José Oliveira

Body I, 2019-2020
Volcanic clay and paraffin
29 x 48 cm, 50 x 33 cm
Collection Maria José Oliveira

Body II (2019/2020) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Collection Maria José Oliveira

Body II, 2019-2020
Volcanic clay and paraffin
29 x 48 cm, 26 x 44 cm
Collection Maria José Oliveira

Muscular System and Vertebral Column (2004) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Art Collection Fundação EDP

Most of her works are composed of natural and organic materials, several of which are impermanent or degradable, such as coffee, plant residues, earth, milk, dried leaves and stems, eggs, vegetable resin, stones, bread dough, baker's oven ash, lime, raw and baked clay, paraffin, oxidised iron and handmade paper. Her palette is reduced and sober, varying from neutral colours to red and golden ochres, the latter accentuated by the occasional application of gold leaf.

Muscular System and Vertebral Column (2004) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Art Collection Fundação EDP

Each material assumes a certain symbolic and esoteric value in the whole, formalised through performative and ritualistic practices such as tearing, binding, baking, weaving, joining, opening, cutting and drying.

Muscular System and Vertebral Column (2004) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Art Collection Fundação EDP

Muscular System and Vertebral Column, 2004
Raw screen with gold leaf, clay and waxed cord string
c. 45 x 40 x 24 cm
Art Collection Fundação EDP, inv. EDP.01077

Wing – the soul isn't measured in inches (2010) by Maria José OliveiraOriginal Source: Art Collection Fundação EDP

Wing – the soul isn't measured in inches, 2010
White cotton canvas, waxed cord string and iron
92 x 74 cm
Art Collection Fundação EDP, inv. EDP.0432

Self-portrait (1980) by Maria José OliveiraCalouste Gulbenkian Museum

Modelled on, for and by the body, as prostheses or simulacra of body parts, her precious and almost mystical objects are as eccentric, irregular and imperfect as the human body itself.

Self-portrait (1980) by Maria José OliveiraCalouste Gulbenkian Museum

Self-portrait, 1980
Unbaked clay polished with pebble, enamel paint and three wooden bases used in old potteries for drying wet clay pieces
49 x 20 x 25 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 17E1845

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
Selection of online resources Maria de Brito Matias


Learn more about Maria José Oliveira's works presented in the context of this exhibition:
All I want: The Gaze and the Mirror
All I want: The House

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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