More than Space

The exhibition aims tto reflect on how artists have reproduced, interpreted, imagined, denied, or deconstructed the space. Not only from a formal point of view, but also bringing into play other social, political, economic, and emotional implications attached to the systems of representation, waiting for the spectator’s sensory cognition to reactivate them.

march 15, 2021 to september 19, 2021

The sensory and intellectual experience provided by the building of the Helga de Alvear Museum allowed us to see and reflect on how a space materialises and inspired this exhibition. A project that aims to delve into the ways in which the works of art that make up the Helga de Alvear Collection propose, construct, and even lie about space and how it is experienced. It does not seek to interpret space as a place or monument; as a location or extension; nor to approach it from its identification with architecture, whether real or imagined, although it is inevitably present. The goal is to show works of art that deal with the representation of space, to reflect on how artists have reproduced, interpreted, imagined, denied, or deconstructed it. And not only from a formal point of view, addressing its possibilities, its limitations, and its transgressions -although this formal approach may become apparently dominant somewhere along the way- but also bringing into play other social, political, economic, and emotional implications attached to the systems of representation like a second skin or hidden behind them, lurking, waiting for the spectator’s sensory cognition to reactivate them.

This exhibition is the result of selecting a set of works that see space as a home and refuge, as a place where the individual body relates to the social body, as the context of new ways of life that change to its rhythm, as promises of fragile or indefinite contours, as projects with no future, with no real possibility of execution or habitability, or as abstractions that generate spaces whose only horizon seems to be the creation of new spatialities and dysfunctionalised atmospheres, which achieve total dematerialisation through the most intangible of materials: light.

We are dealing with a group of works that, focusing on the representation of space or the generation of space, transcends its conception as such and embraces other interpretations and implications that allow space to be transformed into something more than space.

María Jesús Ávila

Doctor in Art History from the University of Extremadura in 1995 with a thesis on Ortega Muñoz, which formed the basis for the book of the same title published by Caja Badajoz. She was a lecturer in the Department of Art History of the University of Extremadura (1995-1999) and of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa (2005-2006). From 1994-2007 she was Curator of the Museu do Chiado-Museo Nacional de Art Contemporânea and of the Culturgest in Lisboa. From there, she organised a number of individual exhibitions such as Rolando Sá Nogueira, Mário Eloy, Heim Semke, Ana Hatherly, and collective exhibitions such as Primeiros Modernismos em Portugal, A cor como experiência, Surrealismo em Portugal 1934-1952 and 1960-1980 Anos de normalização artística nas colecções do Museu do Chiado. She was a member of the curator team of the Art Contemporáneo fair, Foro Sur, in Cáceres.

She has done research work and has collaborated with texts in catalogues and journals about Portuguese art and artists: António Pedro, Jose de Almada Negreiros, Jorge Vieira, Ângela Ferreira, Susanne Themlitz and Augusto Alves da Silva. She has also worked on the three volumes of the catalogue of the collections of the Museu do Chiado (2011-2013).

She is a co-author of the first catalogues raisonnés produced in Portugal: Joaquim Rodrigo and Julião Sarmento. Edições numeradas. She has published research work on Spanish-Portuguese relations during the 20th century in specialist journals and in the catalogue of the exhibition De Picasso a Dalí. She has also collaborated with art journals including Arte Ibérica and Espaços, and in congresses and colloquiums.

In the field of museology she directed the course Producción de exposiciones temporales for the Portuguese Museums Network (2002-2005) and has collaborated with specialist journals and congresses such as, Revista de APHA, Studies in conservation and the minutes of the congress Modern Paints Uncovered (Getty, 2006) and ICOM-CC (2011). She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the journal MIDAS (2012-2014) and collaborates with the Universidade Nova de Lisboa in the joint direction of projects, masters and doctoral theses on documentation and conservation of contemporary art. She is currently joint director of the thesis Conservation y valorización de la Colección de fotografía y vídeo de Ângelo de Sousa and is a director member of the team for the research project Documentação da Art Contemporânea, funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia.

The catalog published for the exhibition contains a text by its curator, María Jesús Ávila, files and comments on all the works and the updated biography of each artist. With color illustrations and a selection of photographs of the assembly of the exhibition halls.

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