• 1976
  • Photographic paper
  • Photography, Drawing and Collage
  • Inv. 94FP378

Helena Almeida

Desenho Habitado [Inhabited drawing]

For whoever assumes, as does Helena Almeida, that painting is foundational in all her work, the question of the hand is of utmost importance. In several of her works, it receives, in terms of the construction of the image, an emphasis superior to other parts of the body. It’s painted and colored, or occupies the foreground, as in this series of twelve photograph in which a thread is used to construct a sequential narrative in which a trace is initially attached to the paper, then rises or jumps out of it, forming  little arches or turns, to finally return to the same surface.


The drawing can be said to have a platonic presence. The line materializes itself through the horsehair, born out of the tip of the pen, running over the mute surface of the sheet of paper, gaining a corporeal presence, as though the artist pours her body out or prepares it to “appear”.


Almeida has said that “…photography is the support. Or am I the support! When you use photography, you photograph the support itself which is me. It is a kind of double of myself (…) I became the support.”* This identification between body and work is fundamental in Helena Almeida’s artistic vocabulary, as is the use of photography, which allows her to work at the frontier of different languages, from drawing to video and from painting to performance, always maintaining a regime of self-representation.


The artist works successively upon her body and the images inherent to it – from the hand to the mouth, from the face to the whole body. Nonetheless, this body never appears as a self-portrait, nor as the staging and dramatizing of other characters and figures, but always as a reiterated presence of herself. It is never explored through description or essentialist demonstration; faced with the photographs of the artist’s body, one learns nothing about her character, personality, tastes, thoughts or conceptions of the world. But neither do we learn much of her concrete body: this hand could be any hand, a “universal” hand that draws a thread that then gains a physical, three-dimensional presence.



Isabel Carlos

May 2010


* Interview by Óscar Faria in Público, 02.12.1995.

A indisciplina do desenho
Lisboa, Instituto de Arte Contemporânea - Ministério da Cultura, 1999
Catálogo de exposição
Desenhos e esculturas do CAMJAP
Câmara Municipal de Porto de Mós
8 de Julho de 2005 a 28 de Julho de 2005
Castelo de Porto de Mós
Esta exposição enquadra-se nas comemorações dos 700 anos do Foral da Vila de Porto de Mós - 8 a 28 JUL 2005
Pés no Chão, Cabeça no Céu
Centro Cultural de Belém
Curator: Centro Cultural de Belém
19 de Março de 2004 a 6 de Maio de 2004
Galeria 1 do Centro Cultural de Belém
Exposição sobre a obra de Helena Helmeida.
A indisciplina do desenho
Instituto de Arte Contemporânea
Curator: Miguel Wandschneider
24 de Março de 2000 a 31 de Abril de 2000
Museu de Aveiro
20 de Novembro de 1999 a 26 de Dezembro de 1999
Fundação Cupertino de Miranda, Vila Nova de Famalicão
8 de Janeiro de 2000 a 13 de Fevereiro de 2000
Museu José Malhoa, Caldas da Rainha
Exposição Comissariada por Miguel Wandschneider e Paula Leitão.