Inner Enrichment (1977)

“The octogenarian Portuguese artist Helena Almeida was intent on blurring lines: her playful images might be considered paintings, actions, and performative photographs…While the artist’s initial forays into photography are grouped together as canvas(es) for wearing (1969–70) or, later, Inhabited Painting(s) (1975–76), subsequent pieces would incorporate a number of key forms of expression, including the series titled Studies for Inner Enrichment (1977). In this last body of work, a rich blue paint, somewhere between ultramarine and cobalt, is layered on top of the photograph, sparking little narratives: at times the artist seems to be swallowing or regurgitating the paint, weeping blue tears, slipping it into her pocket like a talisman, or embracing it, incorporating it into herself as she gradually blurs and fades away—almost like a process of transubstantiation…Helena Almeida is now eighty-one, and, although she has been exhibiting internationally since the 1970s, the idiosyncratic character of her work and the profound originality of her approach don’t allow for any easy interpretation. Even in her native Portugal, recognition of her work has been slow…”


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