Leonel Moura
Portugal, 1948
The work of the artist falls within the field of technological art and robotics, which is almost marginal nowadays, but was crucially relevant to the Portuguese and European art scene of the eighties and nineties. His work has always revolved around philosophical concepts and the critical questioning of the creative process, the meaning of art and the role of the artist. The fact that his work evolved from photography to artificial intelligence bespeaks an inquisitive mind and immense artistic originality. Leonel Moura’s career is defined by the constant and profound questioning of the idea of artistic creation and its adaptation to contemporary society. Throughout his entire body of work, he questions the meaning of artwork in various ways. This becomes clear in a series of photographic works created using photographs that are part of our social iconology, which he found in different places and formats. He is never the author of these photographic images, which he uses to compose artworks that combine the formal structure, use of colour and visual planes of painting with the objectual and structural nature of sculpture and, of course, photography. He develops the content of his own work on top of this image—an anonymous image or at least one that is further removed from the idea of an artwork. In the series ‘España’, he uses a symbolic painting by Velázquez as the motif: Cristo crucificado. The fact that he chose a piece by Velázquez—a key figure not only in the history of art, but also in the evolution of the artist as an idea—is no coincidence. He uses the painting as the basis for an enormous polyptych where he repeats the same motif a total of three times. The series relates to others in which he builds up the photographic image as an essential element of knowledge and its transmission: ‘Portugal’ (1987); ‘Europa’ (1987), featuring portraits of different European philosophers; ‘Ítaca’ (1988), featuring iconic images of Conceptual or Minimalist artworks; and ‘Urban Times’ (1991), centred around the subject of architecture. All of the aforementioned photographic works are large-format and encased in powerful, iron structures—an essential component in artworks that present art and cultural history as an enclosed terrain, removed from the spectator and the rest of the world.
Rosa Olivares

Artworks by the artist included in the Collection Artworks by the artist included in the Collection

  • Untitled (3 Photographs on Velázquez's Christ) / 1989