Desenho habitado (Inhabited Drawing)

Helena Almeida

Lisbon, Portugal, 1934 - Sintra, Portugal, 2018
  • Date: 
  • Material: 
    Horsehair yarn
  • Technique: 
    Gelatin silver print and ink on paper
  • Dimensions: 
    Image: 59 x 56 cm
  • Edition/serial number: 
    Unique edition
  • Category: 
  • Entry date: 
  • Register number: 

The work of Helena Almeida, a key figure in the aesthetic renovation of Portuguese art since the 1970s, is rendered unclassifiable by its particular combination of photography, painting and performance. One characteristic that runs through Almeida’s work is her use of the body as object, subject and working tool. The series entitled Desenho habitado (Inhabited Drawing) belongs to an early stage in her work. After focusing on breaking down the traditional use of supports with her late sixties canvases, Almeida developed her experimentation with the material medium through drawings done using a strand of horsehair on photographic paper. In these pieces, the artist’s body plays a central role, which re-forms and changes from a basic narrative-element presence to a more significant formal purity. The Desenhos habitados combine photography and drawing (“the drawing of a drawing”, as the artist puts it), playing with real and virtual space, questioning the viewer’s dimensional perspective. Almeida’s work falls within a hybrid area where the genre of the photographic self-portrait is confronted in order to create a far wider reflection on both the medium of photography and on other matters to do with the developing interests of contemporary artists, such as work on the body and interest in the process.

Concha Calvo Salanova