States of Art – Holding a mirror to the world

If you like your art big, bold and with a gut-punch of feeling, then Joana Vasconcelos is the artist for you. And at her first Dutch retrospective – I’m Your Mirror at Kunsthal Rotterdam – Vasconcelos presents more than 30 of her iconic sculptures.

TEXT: MATT ANTONIAK | PHOTO: FMGB GUGGENHEIM BILBAO MUSEOA, 2018 © ERIKA EDE, JOANA VASCONCELOS

A master of scale and proportion, Vasconcelos is known for her canny and exuberant use of everyday items, putting them into action as part of giant symbolic sculptures. Tiles, urinals, kitchen pans and cutlery have all had the Vasconcelos treatment, and have been used as part of her lampooning of consumer culture.

Consistent throughout all her work is a feminist ideology, and recognition of the crafts and traditions of her native Portugal. One of her most famous works from the mid-’00s, The Bride, is a six-metre-tall chandelier made entirely from tampons, and more recently she has managed a transformation of one of the most popular Portuguese symbols: the Rooster of Barcelos.

The most iconic work on show at this retrospective is her 2018 work I’ll Be Your Mirror; a huge Venetian mask made from dozens of ornate mirrors. Able to look through the mask, to pretend to be whoever they want, visitors are never fully able to escape their true reflections.

Vasconcelos is an artist who retains that magic touch – able to be funny whilst heartfelt, subversive and direct – this is a rare opportunity to see so much work all in one place and is not one to miss.

Joana Vasconcelos’ I’m Your Mirror is on show at Kunsthal Rotterdam until 17 November 2019.

Matt Antoniak is a visual artist and writer living and working in Newcastle, UK. He works mainly in painting and drawing and is a founding member of the art collective M I L K.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine Ltd.’

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