Joana Vasconcelos at MGM MACAU

Acclaimed Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos presents ‘Valkyrie Octopus’, her first solo exhibition in China, this month (Photo provided by MGM MACAU)

Acclaimed Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos has specifically created a major exhibition for theGrande Praça in MGM MACAU - centring around her work ‘Valkyrie Octopus’ (16th March to 31st October) - as part of the company’s visionary art programme reflecting on Macau’s integral role in the 500-year history of trade between China, Portugal and the rest of the world.

Presenting her first solo exhibition in China in Macau, the internationally celebrated Vasconcelos is one of the pre-eminent artists of the younger generation, who has exhibited extensively at numerous editions of the Venice Biennale. Recent solo exhibitions have been held in equally prestigious venues including Château de Versailles, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Palácio Nacional da Ajuda in Lisbon. Vasconcelos has also showcased her work at Gucci Museo with pieces from the François Pinault Collection. Her magnificent works are distinguished by their monumental scale, mixed use of appropriated materials and mastery of organic form, colour and artistic techniques.

Following in the footsteps of other world-class art exhibitions at MGM MACAU such as the Renaissance masterpiece ‘Botticelli’s Venus’ (2013) and ‘La Biennale des Lions’ (2014) which celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and France, Vasconcelos draws with the maritime in mind in a salute to the Portuguese heritage of Macau as it was here during the 16th Century that the Ming Emperor invited Portuguese merchants to settle and trade between China and the outside world.

‘Valkyrie Octopus’, the largest piece to date in her iconic ‘Valkyries’ series, has been the nucleus of the artist’s work since 2004. This amorphous organic form hangs from the skylight dome of MGM MACAU’s central atrium. The various textures and richness of detail in the piece result from Vasconcelos’s practice of appropriating textiles and ornaments of different origins. She combines artistic techniques such as crochet and Nisa embroidery from the Alto Alentejo region of Portugal with thousands of LED lights and boldly coloured, patterned materials embellished by various kind of beads in a patchwork of patterns, shapes and textures.