Leonilson (José Leonilson Bezerra Dias)The Penelope 1993

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Artwork details

The Penelope
O Penelope
Date 1993
Dimensionsdisplayed: 2220 x 830 mm, 0.5 kg
Acquisition Presented anonymously 2001


Born in Fortaleza, in the north-east of Brazil, Leonilson lived in São Paulo from early childhood until his death in 1993. His early works, from the period between 1983 and 1988, were primarily figurative paintings, largely influenced by the transavantguardia group of Italian painters active in the early 1980s, although he also made sculptures and produced drawings in pen and ink. He developed a strong personal narrative as his work progressed, incorporating images that alluded to the conflict between his gay sexuality and his Catholic heritage. He first incorporated sewing and embroidery into his works in 1989, influenced by the work of the untrained Brazilian artist Arthur Bispo do Rosario (1909-1989) as well as by Shaker work he had seen on a trip to America. After discovering he was HIV positive in 1991 and due to the subsequent decline in his health, Leonilson’s painting practice waned and he began working exclusively on embroidered works… (read more)

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