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Some curiosities about Helena Almeida. 

A key figure in the contemporary Portuguese art scene, Helena Almeida began her career at the end of the 1960's. She left us a multifaceted work, in tune with the most advanced artistic practices of the time. In 1964, she travelled to Paris with a scholarship. With Fernando Calhau, Alberto Carneiro, Ana Hatherly, Álvaro Lapa, António Palolo and many others, she participated, in 1977, in “Alternative Zero”, a plural exhibition in artists and proposals that boosted artistic creation and served as a "barometer" of Portuguese art in the context of international vanguards.

Helena Almeida was born in Lisbon, in 1934, and died in Sintra, in 2018. She finished her Painting course at the Lisbon College of Fine Arts, in 1955. She exhibited individually for the first time in 1967 at the Buchholz Gallery.

From an investigative and conceptual point of view, she centred her artistic journey on her own body, as a plastic and compositional element of her creations, "inhabiting” them and "imprisoning" her performative processes through photography.

Since 1975, photography, painting and drawing have come together in her artistic practice, in which her body is part of her so-called "inhabited canvases". From the 1980s, sculpture and performance art are the languages present in her works, with a focus on the relationship between body and space.

The retrospective of her work, entitled A minha obra é o meu corpo, o meu corpo é a minha obra ("My work is my body, my body is my work"), was exhibited at the Serralves Museum, in 2015, and in Paris and Brussels, in 2016. In 2018, she was one of the featured artists at Tate Modern in London, where she presented the photographic piece Tela Habitada ("Inhabited Canvas") and the series Desenho (com pigmento) ["Drawing (with pigment)"].

With a vast curriculum of individual exhibitions in Portugal and abroad, she represented Portugal at the São Paulo Biennial (1979), at the Venice Biennial (1982, 2005), and at the Sydney Biennial (2004). She won several awards, of which stand out: 1st Drawing Prize, Coimbra (1969); 11th Tokyo Biennial Award; Vila Nova de Cerveira Biennial Award (1984); Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Award (1984); winner of the 1st edition of the BESphoto Prize (now NOVO BANCO Photo), in 2004; International Association of Art Critics (AICA) Prize (2004). On June 9, 2003, she was awarded the Degree of Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry.

In 1967, she was present at the 2nd Modern Art Exhibition, in Funchal, with the painting composition Pintura N.º 1 (“Painting No. 1"), from 1966, one of the first works of her career and one of the first to integrate the collection of this museum. From the nucleus that integrates her representation, we highlight today a set of photographs from 1977 that she titled Desenho Habituado ("Accustomed Drawing").

Credits: MUDAS. Madeira Contemporary Art Museum

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