Although with intermittent visibility, the work of Maria José Aguiar has been a periodic participant in re-readings of contemporary Portuguese production in recent decades. This insertion in major thematic exhibitions has revealed the value of her work's experimentalism, freedom and irreverence, but also highlighted her importance as a precursor of the new figurations of the 1970s and of studies and discourses surrounding gender.
Camouflage (1982) by Maria José AguiarCalouste Gulbenkian Museum
Acrylic paint on hardboard
120,2 x 99,8 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 83P712
Anchored in the representation of the sexed body, manipulated, superimposed and fragmented in rigorous formal compositions, Maria José Aguiar's painting manifests a brutal erotic drive. The work also expresses a political conviction against a moralising and subjugated vision of women inherent in the representation of their bodies and desires, using the explicit representation of sex and genitalia as a critical symbolic vocabulary.
The central role given to the penis progressively hollows it out into a formal visual code, giving rise to fun caricature-like graphic and ornamental patterns that are developed and repeated in pure flat colours and dynamic compositions. Her ironic, disobedient work flies in the face of the deeply conservative, clerical and patriarchal environment in which it is developed, yet it is also critical of the history of art, repeatedly citing and erasing some of its dominant male practitioners.
Untitled (1974) by Maria José AguiarCalouste Gulbenkian Museum
Oil on canvas
130 x 159,7 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 75P713
Painting, from the series "Imprints" (1976) by Maria José AguiarOriginal Source: Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
Painting, from the series "Imprints", 1976
Oil on canvas
140 x 190 cm
Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, on loan to Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto, inv. 1322 PIN MNSR/SR0086
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).
Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand
Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes
Learn more about Maria José Aguiar's works presented in the context of this exhibition:
All I want: Feminine Plural