For his second exhibition at the Gallery, João Penalva presents two different series of large digital pigment prints. Although formally different, these two series share Japan and its culture as their common point.Looking up in Osaka, 2005-2006, is a series of over 300 photographs of electricity poles and cables taken in the city in 2005 and 2006. The coloring of the 16 works in this selection took as reference the spectrum of the inks of nineteenth-century Japanese woodcuts, while its content, graphic and dynamic is always shown as silhouette. In the words of Penalva, " There are at present approximately 37.300.000 den chu (electricity poles) all over Japan, each one a unique configuration from a variety of cables and junction boxes rigged to suit the precise requirements of its immediate surroundings. From them branch out the den sen (electricity cables), stretching over the roads, streets and alleyways in endless variations, twists and turns. These poles are the support of the network of energy ever present above one's head, sustaining the lives of millions of people in their homes, offices and shops. Their layout is the work of electricians following the solo principle of the shortest route, with no regard for aesthetics."
The series Kaki, 2006 - from the Japanese word kaki, which describes a vase or urn, or any container used for displaying flowers - consists of sets of images and texts alluding to the art of ikebana. Here the compositions of flowers, foliage and branches, and the containers they are displayed in are only partially revealed. Those containers, though, are described in the technical, museological language of the ‘label' that Penalva uses to create narratives of characters associated with these objects. The articulation of the various formal parts of these pieces becomes an echo of the articulation of the compositions they suggest.João Penalva was born in Lisbon in 1949. He studied and has lived in London from 1976. He represented Portugal in the Bienal de São Paulo in 1996, and the Venice Biennale in 2001. He also exhibited in the Berlin Biennale, in 2001, and the Sidney Biennale in 2002. Solo exhibitions include, amongst others, Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon, 1999; Camden Arts Centre, London, 2000; The Power Plant, Toronto, 2003; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Oporto and Ludwig Museum, Budapest, 2005. In June 2006 he will exhibit at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin.