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XV International Biennial of Artistic Ceramics of Aveiro — on view until January 30

The XV International Biennial of Artistic Ceramics of Aveiro, open until January 30 in several exhibition venues of the city, aims to involve the community in the local artistic creation, stimulate experimentation and creativity, inspire the industry and the scientific community to innovate, establishing Aveiro as a cultural, national and international hub of artistic ceramics. Founded in 1989 by the City Council, with the collaboration of local artists and companies in the ceramics sector, it has consolidated this mission throughout its 31 years of history.

This edition has the largest number of artists (298) and works (477) in competition, with a total of 58 nationalities, 40 countries and 136 works selected for the competition’s second phase. At the opening ceremony, the jury, presided by Benedetta Diamanti (director of the European Route of Ceramics), awarded first prize to Big Smile I by Ellen van der Woude, second prize to ETA 24.06 by Marie-Josée Comello and third prize to Nereide by Andri Ioannou. It awarded nine honourable mentions to pieces by Anima Roos, Cheng-Chung Yu, Chin-Wang Chen, Filipe Faleiro, Lara de Sio, Olga Simonova, Rita Gonçalves, Sunbin Lim and Yukiko Kitahara. The Main Exhibition, with the works of the International Competition, can be visited at Museu de Aveiro/Santa Joana. The highlight is the variety of styles: figurative, abstract, surrealism, hyper-realism. And important current themes, such as climate change, the passage of time or neo-liberalism, enhancing ceramics as a means of artistic production. Examples are Se pronostica tormenta by Laura Rueda, Trace of the passing time by Chin-Wang Chen or even Natureza Morta. Sociedade de Consumo by Yukiko Kitahara.

At the Biennial, we have visited the exhibitions of the artists invited for this edition, such as AQUA and +32 by Carlos Enxuto at Museu da Cidade de Aveiro. As in the catalogue text written by the author, the first show is an attempt to find connections between the Ria de Aveiro and the people who live in it, reflected in the sculptures Mulher do Mar and Guardiã da Ria, as well as in the mural Aqua-Mater. In +32, the author, without ignoring the continuous and confluent line of his work, explores his journey of discovery of the ceramic object in sculptures such as Caixas/ContentoresBules, in the mural Timeline or the installation À mesa.

The guest artist Jean-François Fouilhoux, one of the most highly regarded French ceramists for the form, gesture and movement of his céladons, presents L’empreinte du geste at Galeria da Antiga Capitania. He reveals this unique writing in clay in Arabesque, Volute, Pulsion or Sarabande, among many other sculptures endowed with delicate luminosity, intimacy and spontaneous expression.

In Antiga Estação Ferroviária, the photography exhibition Metamorfose do Corpo by Aveiro-born young artist Celine Marie is based on a performative act where the naked body is immersed in clay. The intent is to explore «the growing pains of the human psyche, with its limitations and potentialities», as the leaflet piece indicates, showing fragments of that body, movement and gesture, in a series of abstract and poetically aggregated photographs.

In the curious building where Museu de Arte Nova is located, we explore Argila que nos une. Bienal em Movimento, the travelling show that brings together some of the pieces competing in previous years. We have rediscovered Inseticida by Alberto Vieira (Third Prize of the XII Biennial, 2015), Inner Approach by Eleftheria Phili (Third Prize of the XIV Biennial, 2019), Romance de cordel em 27 capítulos by Ricardo Casimiro (Third Prize of the VIII Biennial, 2007) or Uma teoria social by Vicent Roda (Third Prize of the VI Biennial, 1999), among many others. All emphasise the history and relevance of contemporary themes, in addition to the internationality of the Biennial’s collection.

In this XV Biennial, we highlight O poder das mãos: o extraordinário imaginário de Rosa Ramalho at Galeria Morgados da Pedricosa. An important show by one of the most renowned figures in Portuguese pottery, born at the end of the 19th century in the parish of Galegos (São Martinho), municipality of Barcelos. She knew how to join her knowledge and practices to later influences, in contact with artists such as the painter António Quadros, the architect Alves Costa, or the Spanish sculptor Juan Pimentel. She created her own style, exploring different themes such as bestiary and religious, mythology and the fantastic, materialised in bonecos-de-assobio, honey-coloured glazes, cabeçudos, animals, Christs on the cross, Greek gods or zodiac signs.

The relevance of the school community’s active partake in the Biennial is visible in the exhibition Quarto Escuro no ATLAS Aveiro: Edifício Fernando Távora, which gave shape to the project A Bienal vai à Escola: A Poesia da Forma. The texts of the municipalities’ schools, under the motto Os Medos, were transformed by Anabela Soares into ceramic pieces. Figures that, as the curatorial text says, «ultimately reveal a libertarian impulse. These heads are born and compete for their adoption in a single body; they are snakes and other slender beings that emerge from their interior, expelled or longing for a liberation.» The author adds to the sculptures a singular expression and an enormous passion, the consequence of a cathartic process, marked by the mental illness that has accompanied her for a long time, confronting us with our fears. This project is made in collaboration with the artist and Manicómio, the first creative spot and gallery of Outsider Art in Portugal, located in Lisbon, devoted to artists who have or have had mental illnesses.

During the artistic ceramics exhibtion in Aveiro, we can also learn more about the industrial heritage of this region through the photography exhibition A indústria cerâmica aveirense. Imagens da História at Rua Batalhão Caçadores, Avenida 5 de Outubro and Avenida de Santa Joana. Also, the exhibition projects at Museu de Aveiro/Santa Joana: Mostra de I&D by DEMaC/UA, which presents Research and Technological Development projects at the Materials and Ceramics Engineering Department (DEMaC) of the University of Aveiro (UA), as well as O escultor de materiais e tecnologia: Ross Lovegrove na Vista Alegre. Finally, we can see several conferences, technical seminars, book launchings and shows, follow Residência Artística CreArt | Barro de Mãe, curated by Helena Mendes Pereira and in partnership with Fundação Bienal de Arte de Cerveira, participate in workshops, visit art installations in public spaces and follow the educational programme.

Ana Martins (Porto, 1990) PhD student at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto, holds a master’s degree in Art Studies – Museum and Curatorial Studies at FBAUP, with the dissertation “O Cinema Exposto – Entre a Galeria e o Museu: Exposições de Realizadores Portugueses (2001-2020)” and graduated in Cinema from the ESTC of the IPL and in Heritage Management from the ESE of the IPP. She was a researcher at the Projeto CHIC – Cooperative Holistic view on Internet Content, supporting the integration of artist films into the National Cinema Plan and the creation of content for the FBAUP Online Catalog of Films and Videos by Portuguese Artists. She also received a scholarship from inED – Center for Research and Innovation in Education, providing support in the areas of production, communication and advice on cultural events. She collaborates in the field of Art Direction in cinema, television and advertising. She is one of the founders and curators of Coletivo Hera. She writes for Umbigo magazine.

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