Joana Vasconcelos

Born in Paris in 1971, Joana Vasconcelos lives and works in Lisbon. Having been presented in major solo and group exhibitions in Portugal and abroad, her work is at first most striking for its inventiveness, combined with chromatic exuberance and playfulness. Many of her sculptures and installations are created through an accumulation of everyday objects, including such notable examples as the imposing chandelier entitled A Noiva (The Bride) entirely made up of sanitary tampons, which caused a sensation when presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale, and the installation Marilyn, a gigantic pair of high-heeled shoes made up of hundreds of stainless steel saucepans and lids, presented at Versailles during her major exhibition at the Palace in 2012. Both these works exemplify how Joana Vasconcelos sets up a dialogue between the domestic and public spheres to question the status of women and the development of our consumer societies. In 2018, she became the first Portuguese artist to have a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

For her first collaboration with the MiniMasterpiece gallery, through the necklace entitled Extravaganza, Joana Vasconcelos revisits one of the most recurrent forms in jewellery, the sphere – which in the earliest times was a pearl – to obtain through a play on neo-baroque accumulation one of the most sophisticated contemporary necklaces.

Here in solid silver and in 7 different sizes (ranging from 3 mm to 52 mm in diameter), a total of 285 hollow and solid pearls form this quite extraordinary composition. The complete collection will consist of 10 unique necklaces. For each of the necklaces, the artist has chosen a colour which is to be applied to 7 of the silver spheres. Carmine red, white and black will inaugurate the collection, soon to be supplemented by 7 other colours. The artist has chosen to use a thick rubber cord matching the colour of the necklace to hang around the back of the neck. This additional touch of comfort contributes to the singular identity of this sculpture-to-wear, in which the mastery of jewellery is combined with the simplicity of plastic.

This project was made possible thanks to the support of Frédéric Hubin, specialist in art and luxury relations, a friend of both the artist and the gallery. I wish to associate him as co-editor of this extraordinary production. My thanks also go to Hui Young-Jover, fantastic goldsmith in Paris who made our dreams possible.

Download the text written by Lucia Pesapane, art historian and exhibition curator, on Joana Vasconcelos, the Extravaganza project and the artist’s experience of jewellery (2022).

Necklace in Sterling silver,
red ceramics laquer and rubber