Portugal is the westernmost country of mainland Europe, and may be small in size – but don’t let that size fool you. Portugal has long been considered to be one of the few countries that rose in Western influence to create the first global empire. It has influenced many countries all over the world and has left its mark on many countries arts and culture.
With a country so rich in culture, it comes as no surprise that Portugal has given rise to contemporary artists that are rising in prominence in the art world and are making ripples in the art realm. Here are a few top contemporary artists from Portugal.
- Adriana Molder: Trained as a stage designer before turning her focus to fine art and drawing, she excels in capturing the crucial moments of a narrative. Her often black and white portraits are inspired by characters in novels like Virginia Woolf’s ‘The Haunted House.’ Although primarily working in black and white, she has now started adding color into her work especially tones of sanguine red to emphasize the faces.
- Paula Rego: She is renowned in the world of art for her work which juxtaposes the use of soft colors and draws upon children’s fairy tales to create her surreal narratives. Her famous works of art are ‘War’ and ‘The Maids’ which represents an eerie story of domestic peace with sinister undertones.
- Joana Vasconcelos: She is regarded to be one of Portugal’s most high profile contemporary artists with major exhibitions of her work held in the Venice Biennale, Palace of Versailles and Manchester Art Gallery. She takes the objects of everyday reality and places feminine objects in its context to create playful and fun results. Her famous works include the ‘Lilicoptère’ and ‘Brittania.’
- Catarina Botelho: Trained as a painter before turning her sights on photography, Catarina manages to bring out the hidden beauty in mundane subjects, using baskets, brooms, washing up liquids and other everyday objects as the focus of her work. Her works include ‘time and Manner’ and ‘Between the Words and Us.’
- Pedro Cabrita Reis: He is one of Portugal’s most famous contemporary artists and has represented the country with exhibitions in the 2013 Venice Biennale and in many galleries all over the world. He is known for taking industrial materials like electrical wires, neon lighting, paint etc to create a piece of art that takes over the exhibition space itself. His works could fool the viewer into thinking they were on a construction site. His works include ‘The Moscow Piece’ and ‘a remote whisper.’
- Vasco Araújo: Working with a multitude of materials and mediums, Vasco conveys a message of the subject of questioning power and identity across history and culture in his work. His works which use mediums like sculpture, painting and video includes ‘Botany’ and ‘My Servant.’
- Francisco Vidal: His identity comes into play into much of his work. Born to an Angolan father and a Cape Verdean mother, his African heritage plays a dominant role in a large body of his work. His art includes ‘Black Pietá’ and ‘Black Panthers.’
- Jorge Santos: his work can sometimes be mistaken for a photograph as it strives for hyperrealism, but it is clear that nothing is exactly as it seems. His work carries strong undertones of sexuality and the work is set in almost claustrophobic settings that acts like a contradiction to the care and attention to detail of his paintbrush. His work definitely leaves the viewers with much to think about.