Graça Leão (°1959, Luanda, Angola) makes photos, paintings, drawings and media art. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, Graça Leão uses a visual vocabulary that addresses many different social and political issues. The work incorporates time as well as space – a fictional and experiential universe that only emerges bit by bit.
Her photos are characterised by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, she formalizes the coincidental and emphasizes the conscious process of composition that is behind the seemingly random works. The thought processes, which are supposedly private, highly subjective and unfiltered in their references to dream worlds, are frequently revealed as assemblages.
By examining the ambiguity and origination via retakes and variations, she considers making art a craft which is executed using clear formal rules and which should always refer to social reality.
Her works feature coincidental, accidental and unexpected connections that make it possible to revise art history and, even better, to complement it. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.
Her works are often classified as part of the new Romantic Movement because of the desire for the local in the unfolding globalized world. However, this reference is not intentional, as this kind of art is part of the collective memory. By merging several seemingly incompatible worlds into a new universe, she wants to amplify the astonishment of the spectator by creating compositions or settings that generate tranquil poetic images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation.
By experimenting with aleatoric processes, she tries to increase the dynamic between audience and author by objectifying emotions and investigating the duality that develops through different interpretations.
Her collected, altered and own works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. Her works establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence. By focusing on techniques and materials, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her works never shows the complete structure. This results in the fact that the artist can easily imagine an own interpretation without being hindered by the historical reality. By applying a poetic and often metaphorical language, she makes works that can be seen as self-portraits. Her works appear as dreamlike images in which fiction and reality meet, well-known tropes merge, meanings shift, past and present fuse. Time and memory always play a key role. Graça Leão currently lives and works in Almada, Portugal.
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