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Joana Vasconcelos, Azorean Crochet, Two Lobsters and Versailles?

Joana Vasconcelos is a Portuguese artist who lives and works in Lisbon, the city in which her career grew starting in the mid 90’s. Currently, she is recognized on the international art circuit and was the first women (and the youngest artist) to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles, in France.

Joana Vasconcelos, azorean crochet

In that exhibit, Joana Vasconcelos presented two pieces with influences from the Azores. ‘Gardes,’ two proud lions that symbolize patriarchal power, sculpted in Laurent Marble, and ambiguously protected by a second skin of white Azorean crochet; a traditionally feminine handcraft technique. These lions entrapped in the Azorean crochet speak to power by artfully manipulating opposites: masculine/feminine; power/subservience; strength/fragility; robustness/delicacy; imprisonment/protection; solar/lunar, ‘Gardes’ forces the collapse of gender inequality and comes across as the loyal keeper of women’s’ accomplishments.


Joana Vasconcelos, Azorean crochet
In the other piece, ‘Le Dauphin et La Dauphine,’ two huge lobsters in ceramics are covered with sensual Azorean crochet, admiring each other much like two lovers at the table. Like ‘Lobster Telephone,’ from Salvador Dali, this piece disseminates similar impulses and tensions, reflecting reciprocal sexual and culinary desires. 


The set of ceramic with Azorean crochet pieces is inspired by potter Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro (1846-1905), one of the most important Portuguese artists of the nineteenth century. Vasconcelos interpretation uses only to the naturalistic representation of the animals - some oversized – whose proximity to humans can cause discomfort or fear. 

The paradox of trapping/protection the animals through the Azorean crochet, opens a wide field of interpretation inspired by the beauty and the strangeness that the pieces produce.

Both pieces are in exhibition at Palácio Nacional da Ajuda, in Lisbon, until August 25. The exhibition features 38 works created in the last decade, mostly unpublished and other iconic as "The Bride", "Marylin" and "Red Independent Heart".


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