Helena Almeida

Helena Almeida (Lisbon, 1934 - Sintra, 2018) was born in Lisbon, where she lived and worked until 2018.


She graduated in Painting from Lisbon’s Fine Art School in 1955. In 1964 she was granted a scholarship in Paris by the Gulbenkian Foundation.


Her work covers a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, performance, video, installation and photography. In her first solo show in Portugal (Buchholz, 1967), Almeida presented a group of geometric and abstract paintings that challenged the conventional canvas’ limits.


Around 1969, the artist started photographing herself, usually performing different poses in her studio, either alone, interacting with objects found in this space (chairs, benches, mirror fragments) or accompanied by architect and artist Artur Rosa, her husband. Helena Almeida’s practice is often associated with distinctive blue, black or red acrylic ink strokes painted over black and white photographs. In series like Tela Habitada [Inhabited Canvas], Estudo para um enriquecimento interior [Study for inner improvement] or Desenho Habitado [Inhabited Drawing] the artist can be seen interacting with isolated painting and drawing materials, such as a canvas, a pen, a brush or ink, exploring the plastic and disciplinary potentiality of Painting.


Her work has been shown in different galleries, museums and institutions, both in group and solo shows, such as: “WOMAN. The feminist avant-garde from the 1970s, Works from the Sammlung Verbund” (International Center of Photography, New York, USA, 2019), “Work is never finished” (The Art Institute of Chicago, USA, 2017), “My work is my body, my body is my work” (Serralves, Porto, 2015 and Jeu de Paume, Concorde, Paris, 2016), “Dubai Photo Exhibition: a Global Perspective on Photography” (The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award & World Photography Organisation, Dubai, UAE, 2016), “A Needle Walks into a Haystack” (TATE Liverpool, UK, 2014), “Bigger Splash—Painting after Performance” (TATE Modern, London, UK, 2012), “Dance—Walk—Draw” (Skidmore College: tang-The Frances Young Tang Museum and Art Gallery, Saratoga Springs, USA, 2012), “Inside Me” (Kettle's Yard, University of Cambridge, UK, 2009), “Pink fabric for clothing” (Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Spain, 2008), “Intus” (Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, 2005), “Wack! Art and Feminist Revolution” (MOCA-The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA, 2005), “Helena Almeida” (Europália, Musée de Charleroi, Charleroi, Belgium, 1991) and Biennale di Venezia (Venice, Italy, 1982).


Her work is included in great national and international collections, such as: Art Institute (Chicago, USA), Art Pradier (France), Banco de España (Madrid, Spain), Banco Privado (Portugal), BES arte - Colecção Banco Espírito Santo (Portugal), Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris (France), Caixa Geral de Depósitos (Portugal), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (Santiago de Compostela, Spain), Centro de Arte Contemporânea Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis (Portugal), Centro de Fotografia Ordoñez Falcon (San Sebastian, Spain), Colecção Berardo (Lisbon, Portugal), Col. D’és Balluard (Spain), Col. FRAC (Lorraine, France), Col. Fundação Leal Rios (Portugal), Col. Inglada (Barcelona, Spain), Col. Leigh Matthews (San Francisco, USA), Col. Podesta (Washington, USA), Col. Sammlung Verbund di Viena (Austria), Contemporary Art Museum of Chicago (USA), Fundación ARCO (Madrid, Spain), Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Portugal), Fundação Coca-Cola (Spain), Fundação Luso-Americana para o Desenvolvimento (Portugal), Fundação PLMJ (Portugal), Serralves Foundation (Portugal), Fundación Aena (Madrid, Spain), Spain Fundación Telefonica (Madrid, Spain), Galerie Bama (France), Galerie Drehscheibe (Basel, Switzerland), Hara Museum of Contemporary Art (Tokyo, Japan), MoMA (NY, USA), Musée d'Art Moderne Grand Duc Jean (Luxembourg), Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Barcelona - MACBA (Barcelona, Spain), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (Castilla y León, Leon, Spain), Tate Gallery (London, UK), The National Museum of Western Art (Tokyo, Japan), Colección la Fábrica – Premio PhotoEspaña 2003 (Madrid, Spain), Buhl Collection (NY, USA) and Crédit Suisse (NY, USA).