João Penalva
Portuguese, 1949
Blue chip
Represented by internationally recognized galleries.
Selected exhibitions
Simon Lee Gallery
João Penalva,
Simon Lee Gallery
The Prize Song,
Simon Lee Gallery

João Penalva is known for his hour-long films spoken in languages like Hungarian and Esperanto. In 336 PEK (336 Rivers) (1999), a shot of a grassy park crisscrossed by walkers and joggers is accompanied by English subtitles, while a growly male voice recounts a variety of fables and tales in Russian, including the names of 277 of the 336 rivers that feed Siberia’s Lake Baikal. Penalva’s work—including performance, installation, photography, drawing, painting, and artist’s books—explores the fractured, changeable relationships among images, text, language, and sound, highlighting each element’s theatrical and narrative possibility. Recently, he has presented formal photographs of mysterious, indeterminable objects paired with captions. A former dancer who studied under Pina Bausch, Penalva is also influenced by the theories and work of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham, and …

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