Contemporary Art in Portugal: Meet the Artists

Portugal is a country full of wonders, also at the cultural level: from azulejos, to architecture, or even contemporary art. Let’s meet some of the Portuguese artists who have gained international recognition in the last years, and whose works define, among other things, the artistic identity of the country.

“Botânica” — Vasco Araújo

Vasco Araújo

Vasco Araújo work reflects the codes of behavior in the individual’s relationship with the world, often based on Literature and Philosophy. With a diverse catalog, his sculptures, photographs, paintings, and videos question the status of the human condition and communication. Vasco Araújo embraces political and historical themes and gender identity issues.

“No title” — Vhils


Vhils is the stage name of Alexandre Farto. He gained recognition when one of his murals, which depicted a face carved into a wall, was displayed alongside a work by Banksy – one of the most renowned street artists – at the 2008 Cans Festival in London. Nowadays he works mostly between Lisbon and London as a street and graffiti artist. His work is characterized by the use of various tools, capable of marking or removing walls (such as hammers, drills, explosives, etc.). Vhils favors public spaces for the exhibition of his works, namely on the walls of buildings.

Women III (série) — Adriana Molder

Adriana Molder

Adriana Molder was born in 1975 in Lisbon — where she still lives and works. Although the artist developed her drawing and painting work also in Berlin. Her works are inspired by cinema, from existing images, as well as literature, short stories, and novels. In black and white pieces with a glimpse of red, dark, ghostly and cinematic features will stand out in these images.

“No title” — Santiago Ribeiro

Santiago Ribeiro

Santiago Ribeiro is a Portuguese surrealist painter from Coimbra. His works are characterized by being provocative and imaginative while using vivid and warm colors. His themes are based on current issues and society, but his surreal style is sometimes misunderstood. Santiago Ribeiro leads the international project Surrealism Now, which started in 2010, organized by the Bissaya Barreto Foundation.

Amor da Ericeira — Paula Rego

Paula Rego

Known for creating provocative, violent and magical art, Paula Rego was born in 1935 and is one of the most famous Portuguese artists. Her style evolved from abstract to representative, with themes often related to feminism. Paula Rego’s artistic world is an imaginative place of hypnosis, symbolism and secrets, based on stories only she knows.

A Noiva” — Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos

Joana Vasconcelos has great international recognition. In 2012, she became the first woman and the youngest artist to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles in Paris. Her art is based on sculpture and installation and stands out for the use of bright and eye-catching colors, as well as the large scale of her creations. Joana works with domestic and everyday objects, showing the opposition between the traditional and the modern.

Central Tejo” — Pedro Cabrita Reis

Pedro Cabrita Reis

Pedro Cabrita Reis is one of the most outstanding and awarded contemporary artists. His work ranges from sculpture, including large-scale pieces, to paintings, drawings, and photographs. The artist’s large and daring pieces are praised by critics as poetic meditations on diverse subjects, from housing, migration, and space, whether for exhibition or outdoors. He uses materials such as wood, glass, plaster, stone, plastic, or metal, as well as everyday objects and elements.

“O Tempo e o Modo” — Catarina Botelho

Catarina Botelho

Catarina Botelho’s focus is photography. The images she captures focus on simple, banal objects that evoke a certain timelessness. The absence of people leads us to focus our attention on isolated objects, taking note of their formal and chromatic characteristics. Her works are part of collections such as the EDP Foundation, Américo Santos Collection, MAAT, PLMJ Foundation, and the Azores Regional Government Collection.

“1 Nova, 2 Nem Tanto” — José Pedro Croft

José Pedro Croft

This artist from Porto is considered one of the main representatives of the revitalization of Portuguese sculpture, standing out for his geometric creations and three-dimensionality. In his first works, he approached the theme of death and the grave, through bas-relief and the organic modeling of the painting.

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