Leonor Antunes

the homemaker and her domain
Location: Maria Theresia Bastion

The sculptures of Leonor Antunes bring with them the practices of artists, often female, of the 20th century.

Leonor Antunes does not start her work from nothing. Inspiration, which has guided generations of white, male, Western artists "who create the living being from out of nothing" (Linda Nochlin, 1971) constitutes neither her motivation, nor her aesthetic logic. For her, sculpture is the very opposite. It is a collective practice, and a collaborative form of manufacturing. She creates interplay between a network of affinities or rather phantasmal capillaries.

Their source lies in the shaded, unexplored zones of the 20th century and the ever-deeper research that Leonor Antunes undertakes into them. The sculpture installation at the Theresia Bastion reflects the research that artist Leonor Antunes has undertaken into the periods of time (1930-1932) that Michiko Yamawaki, a Japanese designer and textile artist, spent at Bauhaus and those that French architect Charlotte Perriand spent in Japan (1940-1942 and 1953-1955). Put differently, Leonor Antunes does not work 'on' - starting off with an overall view from above – but 'with' artists characterised by their eccentric and intergenerational modernity. The path these two figures followed reflects a desire to live their lives in an autonomous way and also to find their interdependencies, notably with the local or indigenous customs, materials and modes of assembly. For Antunes, to work ‘with' also means to translate, displace, transpose and transgress, in a temporary relation to an exhibition space. This shift leads to an affirmation of both the material presence of the sculptures and also the rhythm of their positioning within the space, which takes on a role similar to a musical score.


Engaging with the histories of 20th century architecture, design and art, the work of Leonor Antunes reflects on the functions of everyday objects, contemplating the potential of Modernist forms to be materialised as sculptures. Antunes investigates the coded values and invisible flow of ideas embedded within objects, transforming them into reimagined abstract structures. Integrating materials such as rope, wood, leather and brass, Antunes silently rattles at the aesthetic traces of Modernism to foresee an altogether revived, rethought way of looking forward by looking back. Borrowing from vernacular traditions of craftsmanship from locations such as South America, Mexico and Portugal, Antunes seeks to understand the construction principles behind rational designs, as well as the process of abstracting reality through its reduction to geometry. The grid, present in most of the art works, objects and buildings she references, finds itself transformed into brass nets, interlaced and knotted strings, leather straps and bands of cotton threads hand-woven on looms. Her source of inspiration is provided mostly by the practice of female artists - not only through their radical social and political stances, but also in their practical aspiration to improve people's everyday lives through art and design.

Leonor Antunes studied Sculpture at the Fine Arts University of Lisbon, and at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Karlsruhe. Her most recent important exhibitions includes: medir, cuidar, enlaçar. Serralves Collection, Forum Arte Braga, Braga, Portugal (2022), discrepancies, La Loge, Brussels, Belgium (2022), the homemaker and her domain, Festival D'Automne, Paris, France (2021), joints, voids and gaps, MUDAM, Luxembourg (2020), sequences, inversions and permutations, The Box, Plymouth, UK (2020), a seam, a surface, a hinge, or a knot, official Portuguese representation at the 58th International art exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, Palazzo Giustinian Lolin, Venice, Italy (2019), the last days in Galliate, Hangar Bicocca, Milan, Italy (2018); discrepancies with C.P., Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico (2018); the frisson of the togetherness, Whitechapel Gallery, London, U.K. 2017); discrepancies with G. G, Tensta Konsthall, Tensta, Stockholm (2017); spiral staircase leads down the garden, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), San Francisco, United States (2016); the pliable plane, CAPC Musée d'Art Contemporain de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France (2015); / stand like s mirror before you, New Museum, New York, United States (2015); the last days in Chimalistac, Kunsthalle Basel, Basel, Switzerland (2013); villa, how to use, Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2011); discrepancies with M.G., Museo El Eco, Mexico City, Mexico (2011).

Furthermore, her work has been included in the following biennials: Aichi Triennale (2022), Gwangju Biennial (2018), 57th International Art Exhibition la Biennale di Venezia, Italy (2017); Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2015); Triennale Kleinplastik Fellbach 2013, Fellbach, Germany; 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, Berlin, Germany (2014); 3rd Singapore Biennale, Singapore (2011).

Leonor Antunes currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.