EDP Foundation New Artists Award at MAAT

Adriana Proganó, Andreia Santana, Bruno Zhu, Maria Trabulo, René Tavares and Rita Ferreira are the finalists of the fourteenth edition of the EDP Foundation New Artists Award, which attracted more than 700 applications. The work of the six artists is at MAAT, in a group exhibition curated by Luís Silva, Luísa Santos and Sara Antónia Matos.

Following the exhibition route, Maria Trabulo (Porto, 1989) presents Fragile Stones, an installation that recreates the exhibition spaces and devices of the Raqqa museum and the Syrian Heritage Archive, destroyed between 2013 and 2017 during the occupation of the city by the Islamic State. The fact that none of the missing pieces are represented, but rather the areas and devices where they were exhibited, metaphorises the absence of an irretrievable cultural legacy.

Adriana Proganó (Lucerne, 1992), explores the limits of painting through Little Brats. This is an installation where the characters who normally inhabit her paintings leave the two-dimensionality of the canvas and invade the space of the museum. They acquire a body, become sculptures with layers of paint, break free of the limits and the white space where they were exhibited (reminiscent of Brian O’Doherty’s white cube concept) and start to invade and destroy the museum. A reflection not only about painting as a discipline but also about the role of venues for art and the impact they have on the pieces exhibited in them.

Rita Ferreira (Óbidos, 1991) proposes an inhabitable herbarium based on the book “Plants of the Gods” about the use of hallucinogenic plants and shamanic rituals in different parts of the world. Double-Blind includes large paintings on paper of these plants, hung on a metal structure that allows us to see front and back while we walk through the space and are “swallowed” by the images Rita Ferreira chooses to show us and by the “white noise” we simultaneously perceive. An immersive installation that puts us in a kind of trance or state of mind, perhaps also achieved by the plants shown here.

Andreia Santana (Lisbon, 1991) presents works in iron, bronze and glass. Hybrid structures that remind us of shells, husks, scales, wounds, fossils, calling to mind animal survival strategies such as camouflage or changing skin. Or even feminine seduction/protection tactics, such as hiding or revealing parts of the body. The combination between iron, a resistant element, and glass, a fragile element, may raise questions related to life and death. And the proximity of both states, since both materials react to heat. Iron is permanently mutable, unlike glass. Glass, after being moulded, can never be changed.

Bruno Zhu (Porto, 1991) presents Vida, an installation where, as usual in his work, he reveals the symbolic, political, social and economic value of the objects that surround us, associating memories and times of four generations of his family, using figures of his younger sister, mother and grandmother (of Chinese origin). A decapitated model parades on a catwalk, where objects representing various generations are placed, such as four music CDs – one of traditional Chinese music, one of Chinese pop music, one by Christina Aguilera and one by Ariana Grande. Two large Patek Philippe clocks mark time clockwise and counter-clockwise, from 1 am to 12 pm and from 1 pm to 12 am. The entire installation is white, making all the subjects suggested by the objects neutral and uniform.

Finally, René Tavares (São Tomé, 1983) presents the project Estado Novo do Atlântico reflecting, as usual, his modern displacement and resettlement in a post-colonial context. The set of three works, Carruagem lusa e Piá mú, Olha para mim e Wash station, stimulate a reflection on the colonial past, the present and what may be a post-colonial future.

In this first selection of artists, the jury headed by Vera Pinto Pereira (president of the EDP Foundation) and composed of Amanda Carneiro (curator), Luísa Cunha (artist), Marcio Doctors (art critic and curator), Ana Rito (artist curator and researcher) and Miguel Coutinho (executive director and general director of the EDP Foundation) unanimously decided to award the EDP Foundation New Artists Award 2022 to Adriana Proganó, stating that “the work presented by the artist showed boldness in producing something unprecedented in her career, in dialogue with the themes and languages that she has addressed (…) the singularity of this proposal, with irony, humour and institutional criticism, provides a renewed look at painting and its extension into the field of the object”. An Honourable Mention was also awarded to Bruno Zhu.

According to the Jury, the works presented reflect many concerns of a generation, such as gender issues or post-colonialism, through various media, materials and narratives. The exhibition signals the spirit of the current moment in art.

The exhibition EDP Foundation New Artists Award may be seen until February 6 at MAAT, Lisbon.

Joana Duarte (Lisbon, 1988), architect and curator, lives and works in Lisbon. She concluded her master in architecture at Faculdade de Arquitectura of Universidade de Lisboa in 2011, she attended the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands and did her professional internship in Shanghai, China. She collaborated with several national and international architects and artists developing a practice between architecture and art. In 2018 she founds her own studio, concludes the postgraduate degree in curatorial studies at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas of Universidade Nova de Lisboa and starts collaborating with Umbigo magazine.

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