Born in Porto, Portugal, Helena de Medeiros, is one Portugal’s most sought after contemporary artists. From a young age Helena was destined to be a source of creative excellence. She exhibited a talent for the arts, and combined with the support of family, she has gone onto fulfil her promise in a number of ways.
Having graduated London Fashion School, and Escola Superior de Artes e Design, Helena’s first professional creative work was mainly in costume design. Her work quickly gained a reputation which has lead to success internationally in Contemporary Ballet, Theatre, Opera and Cinema. She has collaborated with great choreographers such as Gradimir Pankov, Iracity Cardoso, Louis Robitaille, Mauro Bigonzetti, Richard Wherlock, Vasco Wellemkamp, Xin Peng, who all noted that not only was she uniquely able to design to their high standard and that her collaborative approach was second to none.
Her ability to add to the dramatic prose told on stage, through her costume, and to combine the character traits, while maintaining physical necessities of the performance set her aside as one to watch and work with.
Parallel to her work in costume, Helena has also had a meteoric career in Fine Arts as a painter. She has exhibited consistently since 1990 in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Her paintings have been described as an important visual dialogue between the integration of the work of her costumes when performed by the dancers, actors and singers.
Her primary subject is that of ballet. It is without doubt where you see her greatest passions and skill. Her ability to capture motion, heavily influenced by Chagall, is breathtaking and seductive. Her figures twirl and spin either alone or with partners - there is alway a sense of movement - whether by the subjects or the world stage surrounding them. Visually she gives us insight into the energy created by dancers from the ground up. Her ability to convey the near flight like movement of dancers who’s feet hardly touch the ground is at once wistful and expressive.
One of Helena’s most important recognitions came during an exhibition to honour the world of Ballet based on the work “Degas. Danse. Dessin” from the writer Paul Valéry. This is a work that shows a poetic and fragmented side of the Degas’ art. Paul Valery, nominated for 12 Nobel Prizes in literature was noted primarily for his interests in aphorisms on art, history, letters, music, and current events. The exhibition composed of 26 original engravings by the painter Edgar Degas, the recreations in photography of five works from Degas by the dancer Carlota Rodrigues, four works by the painter Paula Rego, six costumes and one painting by Helena de Medeiros. This exhibition allowed the world to see Helena as a ‘bridge’ between dancer, artist, costume designer and choreographer. It also cemented her position in subject of ballet as an artist. Since then Helena’s become collected globally by institutions, private individuals and public collections.
I was born in Porto, Portugal, and studied at the London Fashion School and at the Superior School of Arts and Design of Porto (ESAD). Since 1990 I have held individual painting exhibitions and many of my works are in private and municipal public collections.
It is important to note that my paintings have an important dialogue with my costume designer work. My history within the world of Ballet is something that I am particularly proud of. I have been inspired, challenged and have seen my work adorned by some of the most influential Ballet groups in the world, including Ballett Basel (Switzerland), Ballett Dortmund (Germany), Ballet Gulbenkian (Portugal), Ballett Hannover (Germany), Companhia Nacional de Bailado (Portugal), Fondazione de la Danza Aterballetto (Italy), Gauthier Dance / Dance Company Theaterhaus Stuttgart (Germany), Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal (Canada), Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal (Canada), National Ballet of China (China), Teatro di San Carlo (Italy), Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile (Chile).
When I consider my Balletic costume and artwork, I feel responsible to maintain the high level of precision, beauty and story telling that has been in existence since the first ballets of the 1600s onwards. Ballet was in many ways the theatrical peak of the Baroque era, a time that was an essential period between the Renaissance and the Classical period that came after.
This was a period of extreme change, grandeur, opulence, entertainment and grace were the themes of the day and the arts reflected throughout Europe during time. The baroque period gave us such creative minds such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. Music, fashion, art, food. This is an era rich in masters of their field. I don’t count myself amongst them, but I carry the responsibility of maintaining alive and relevant to new generations the ideas begun then.
The dialogue with my Costume Designer activity is very evident. I have produced several bodies of work and each is both a study in another facet of life, and the evolution of it which initiates the transition between the previous phase and my current phase. But certainly, one thing is important to say: my creation process is instigated by the continuous change of air ... Travel is a constant part of my life and is fundamental to the way I search for new things in the world, me and the my restless spirit ... I create a kind of "non-place", in an artistic and constructive sense: I make each passage a fixed moment of memory, which spreads, even dissipates, in my works. What matters to me is that in the nature of each of my works, regardless of what artistic scope it is, there is spontaneity ... Spontaneous action does not simply mean starting from impulses, impulses ... No, it takes a lot of study , starting with the investigation of the properties of each material used to compose a work of art. That is why the studio is important, because it allows this intimate space to investigate, study, allow discovery. Spontaneity is the way we shape the freedom to create, you know? It is this freedom that allows me to contrast sweetness and ferocity, in a symbiosis that I call dance between lights and shadows. My world is like this, an eternal core that sometimes knows the intense brightness of the erupting magma and, at one time, the random darkness of when that crust runs out on itself.
I trace so many paths, it is difficult to establish definitions ... But, looking at my work, one thing seems right: making art today requires a lot of amalgamation of different artistic expressions in one work. It is the breaking of the definitions, the limits of what is painting, what is sculpture, what is design ... Everything added to experiences of intensity in a globalized world, another factor that seems to be quite in vogue. This makes me think ... We never know how much of the world is in us and how much of us we leave in the world; I ponder this often and perhaps it is this question which really drives me. Making art is confused with my own ability to build who I am.
When it comes to aesthetics - everything crosses has to do with what I was talking about in the previous question, about the fact that everything is interconnected. And I don't think that in art we have to be in control of the whole process, not least because the objective to be achieved is based more on the way to go - and what we learn from it - than on the ends or in an idea of a final finish. Art, at least the one I make, is a sober attempt at what goes in a sober line, you know? That is why in the exercise of materializing feelings, sensations, emotions with so much detachment. It is necessary to try to see in a different way a work that could have ended up plastered in a first crystallised look, for example.
From the beginning, I work with Chinese ink and gold paper, which allow me to give vent to the need to work the movement. Faces, hands, bodies ... The fragment that makes the spectator imagine the whole scene ... I have always been interested in putting on screen a capture of a moment, which at the same time that it seems to be frozen in time, also gives us the feeling of that everything flows, that nothing is stagnant. It is a constant feature in my works.
Birds and flight are symbols that I am very interested in studying and experimenting in my imagery. My work is all based on this attempt to bring the dimensions of the movement to the spaces of creation. It has to do with freedom, too. Freedom to create, to live, to build. The birds, with their flights and their musicality… Maybe that's how I want each of my works, as constructions in fragments that become, in the end, one flight, one song… This dream world is very present in my work: figures full of shadows that reveal themselves full of delicacy, tenderness. There is of course a huge crossover into Ballet, where the history of concept of appearing to defy laws of physics and biology to see something exceptionally portrayed (in this case the dancers) and always unique in every performance and viewing.
When it comes to size, is not the size of the painting itself, but the technique used. My paintings are often large because that is how I see my characters: they are protagonists and, at the same time, scenarios of a world that I deeply explored.
I love to work with Chinese ink and gold paper they allow me to give vent to the need to work the movement. Faces, hands, bodies ... The fragment that makes the spectator imagine the whole scene ... I have always been interested in putting on screen a capture of a moment, which at the same time that it seems to be frozen in time, also gives us the feeling of that everything flows, that nothing is stagnant. I have noticed an immense desire in me to make pictures that mix painting and sketching techniques. And, the experience of digital creation has been extremely rewarding. I’m glad I didn’t dismiss digital mediums for art creation. Creating digitally has allowed me to challenge myself as well as my philosophies, while remaining true to my
Although, I feel like I am moving into a new phase of my art curiously this has come with more focus and intrigue for dance.
I suppose, I feel proud that my work is the influence of many facets of ‘potential’. My work is all based on this attempt to bring the dimensions of the movement to the spaces of creation. It has to do with freedom, too. Freedom to create, to live, to build. The birds, with their flights and their musicality, the Dancers with their grace and strength… Maybe that's how I want each of my works, as constructions in fragments that become, in the end, one perfect flight, song and dance full of delicacy, tenderness.
2020 June - July , Lady in red, LiR Gallery - solo exhibition by Helena de Medeiros
2019 March-May | 3 Dancers (How many times did you lose your crown) | Galeria Municipal De Arte, Barcelos, Portugal
2018 Exhibition 2 Alices – Dortmund Theatre Opera House, Germany
2017 Random Birds da artista Helena de Medeiros no Centro Cultural Marcos Valcárcel, Portugal
2016 June, (In)Color, Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal
2016 Insustentável leveza (Paços do Concelho de Barcelos, Barcelos, 2015/16)
2015 Insustentável Leveza | Salão Nobre dos Paços do Concelho e Sala Gótica, Câmara Municipal de Barcelos;
2015 Suspended Feature (Casa-Museu Medeiros & Almeida, Lisboa, Portugal
2014 Galeria Artes Solar Sto. António, Porto, Portugal
2014 Breaking Reality | Galeria Cálem Porto, Gaia
2014 - Suspended Feature - Casa-Museu Medeiros e Almeida. Lisboa, Portugal
2014 - Breaking Reality - Galeria Cálem Porto. Porto, Portugal
2013 Cross | Casa-Museu Bissaya Barreto, Coimbra, Portugal
2014 - Breaking Reality - Galeria Cálem Porto. Porto, Portugal
2013 Cross | Casa-Museu Bissaya Barreto, Coimbra, Portugal
2013 Outro Retrato | Casa-Museu Abel Salazar, Porto, Portugal
2013 - Nella Lente del’Onorico - Galleria d’Arte Collezione. Roma, Italy
2013 - Linee Artistiche a Confronto - Galleria la Pigna/UCAI. Vaticano
2013 - Emotions of the World - Castelo Douglas Scotti Di Fombio. Milão, Italy
2013 - Dialongado con la Biennale - Centro d’Arte San Vidal. Veneza, Italy
2013 - Ghosts in Amour - itenerante. Espanha, País de Gales, Belgium
2013 - Cross - Casa-Museu Bissaya Barreto. Coimbra, Portugal
2013 - Outro Retrato - Casa-Museu Abel Salazar. Porto, Portugal
2013 - Golden Dust - Galeria Franchini’s. Porto, Portugal
2012 Golden Dust (Galeria Franchini’s, Porto, Portugal)
2012 - Arte Padova - Pádova, Italy
SINCE 2009 Ghosts in Armour (road show by Spain, Wales, Belgium, United States).
2019 11 April/Abr – 30 May/Mai, NorteShopping. Matosinhos, Portugal. Exhibition “Edgar Degas. No Mundo do Ballet” with special participation of Paula Rego and Helena de Medeiros
2016 Exposición Colectiva de Primavera | Galeria Gaudi, Madrid;
2015 Exposição Coletiva | Galeria Artes Solar, Porto;
2013 Emotions of the World | Castelo Douglas Scotti di Fombio, Milão;
2013 Nella lente dell’Onorico | Galleria d’Arte Collezione, Roma;
2013 Dialogando con la Biennale | Centro d’Arte San Vidal, Veneza;
2013 Linee Artistiche a Confronto | Galleria La Pigna/UCAI, Vaticano/Roma;