Press Release

The exhibition presents a selection of works by Joana Vasconcelos including ceramic and textile pieces from her ac­claimed Bordalos and Boxes series, alongside two ceramic works by Ai Weiwei. By revisiting the readymade and the parameters of New Realism and Pop Art, both artists ironically question contemporary society, its socio-cultural norms and collective identities. Their nonconformist visual language, often referring to the history of art and playing with the codes of luxury and design, or with the potential of elements drawn from the domestic universe, allows artisanship and industry, tradition and modernity, popular culture and erudition to coexist.



International exhibitions

International ongoing exhibitions

Joana Vasconcelos, Ai Weiwei

Gowen Contemporary, Geneva (Switzerland)
07.09 - 05.11.2022




In the English lexicon, the expression Melting Pot is defined as a space within which “lements of very varied origin mix, where different ideas meet.”For this reason, the phrase is often used to describe diverse, multicultural societies.

In 2005, Joana Vasconcelos began to create sculptures from a limited set of faience pieces designed by Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro (1846-1905), considered to be one of the most renowned Portuguese artists of the 19th century. The appro­priation carried out by Vasconcelos, within the scope of Bordalo Pinheiro’ vast production in ceramics, only includes the naturalist representation of specific animals. Some of these animals are rendered oversize and their proximity to the viewer might generate surreal perceptions. Creatures with whom man generally has a controversial relationship, such as wasps, lizards and snakes, crabs and lobsters, frogs, or bull, donkey and horse-heads, wolves or cats are ambi­guously veiled by a second skin in crochet, thus introducing unexpected flows of meaning in the dialogue between po­pular and erudite culture. The use of crochet as a paradoxical protection of the animals, as well as the direct reference to the domestic context, opens up a vast and rich field of interpretation enhanced by the beauty and strangeness generated as a result of the gesture. The name of each piece is inspired by personalities from history or society etc., often in relation to the country or location where the work is exhibited for the first time.

Joana Vasconcelos, Jane Avril, 2016. Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro faience painted with ceramic glaze, Azores crocheted lace , 100 x 70 x 140 cm

Joana Vasconcelos, Jane Avril, 2016. Rafael Bordalo Pinheiro faience painted with ceramic glaze, Azores crocheted lace , 100 x 70 x 140 cm Ai Weiwei, Watermelon, 2006, porcelain, 45 x 45 x 47 cm

Exhibition 07 September - 05 November  2022. Gowen Contemporary, Grand-Rue 23 - 1204 Geneva (Switzerland). T. +41(0)79 330 17 54. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 - 18:30
Saturday 11:00 - 17:00
and by appointment





Joana Vasconcelos, Ai Weiwei, Gowen Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2022. All Rights Reserved

Ai Weiwei, Watermelon, 2006, porcelain, 45 x 45 x 47 cm

In 2006, the artist Ai Weiwei stayed in Jingdezhen, the center of Chinese ceramic production and studied with local craftsmen who were proficient in the medium. Crafting an ordinary watermelon in porcelain, China’ highest and most highly-respected art form, challenges the reverence for the medium. The perfectly realistic object also interrogates the issue of product authenticity in China.

Joana Vasconcelos was born in 1971 in Paris. She lives and works in Lisbon (Portugal) where she has established a unique, collaborative artist-studio working model employing some 50 people. She is a multimedia sculpture artist whose works are often complex installations on a monumental scale.

Ai Weiwei (*1957, Beijing) lives and works in multiple locations, including Beijing (China), Berlin (Germany), Cambridge (UK) and Lisbon (Portugal). As a multimedia artist, he also works in film, writing and social media.

The present exhibition is part of the International Academy of Ceramics (IAC) 2022 Congress. Marking the organisa­tion’ 70th anniversary as well as its 50th congress jubilee, this year’ event takes Melting Pot as its theme.