Bringing together 25 works produced over the last twenty years, the show will feature some of her most vibrant sculptures, all dotted around the Park’s unique architecture and 18th-century landscape.
Shown in the Underground Gallery and extending into the surrounding gardens, the dynamic and playful sculptures will examine, expose and celebrate the creative lives of women everywhere.
As always, Vasconcelos takes a closer look at historical and contemporary societal structures, and frequently uses items associated with domesticity and craft, including household appliances, fabric and crochet, to comment from a feminist perspective on national and collective identity, cultural traditions and women’s roles.
The hand-crafted versus the industrial is reflected in one of Vasconcelos’ most energetic and colourful works, Pop Galo (Pop Rooster) (2016). Inspired by the image of the Portuguese rooster, the artwork brings historic and modern methods of making together, fusing handmade ceramic tiles and LED light technology, to create a contemporary pop art statement which celebrates the rooster of Barcelos – the most popular piece of traditional Portuguese pottery. At over nine-metres-high and covered by 17,000 Portuguese glazed tiles, by day the work traditionally represents the pop culture icon. Programmed alongside the lights, a composition by Portuguese musician Jonas Runa plays from the rooster.
Also in the open air is Solitário (Solitaire) (2017), a seven-metre-high ring made of golden car wheel rims topped with a huge diamond crafted from crystal whisky glasses. Representing the stereotypical ambition of our society to acquire wealth and material possessions, the work unites symbols of luxury – cars, jewellery and alcohol – which bridge social classes.
Within the Underground Gallery, the exhibition continues with works that celebrate the artist’s unbridled imagination. The monumental 23-metre-long Material Girl (2015), which hangs suspended from the ceiling, is one of a series of dramatic works that represent ‘valkyries’, female figures from Norse mythology who selected warriors on the battlefield worthy of a place in Valhalla. Made from hand-stitched pink and purple fabrics, sequins, crocheted panels and LED lights with tentacle limbs that reach across the gallery, Material Girl embodies the power of these figures through a dynamic mass of texture and colour that is intended to be both menacing and protective.
Elsewhere, you’ll be able to experience the iconic oversized silver stilettos of Marilyn (2009/2011) which comment on social conventions and highlight the division between women’s traditional domestic and contemporary public roles. Referencing Marilyn Monroe, one of the most notable American actors to symbolise female sexuality, the work pays homage to her absent figure.
These are, of course, a few highlights. To find out more about Joana Vasconcelos at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, visit ysp.org.uk. The exhibition launches on 7 March 2020 and runs through until 25 January 2021.
Joana Vasconcelos, Solitario, 2018. © Luís Vasconcelos, Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos
Joana Vasconcelos, Pop Gallo, 2016. © Luís Vasconcelos, Courtesy Unidade Infinita Projectos