02 JUN - 10 OUT 2021


Gonçalo Pena’s exhibition Barber Shop follows the meta-metaphorical fictitious forays of a citizen who is a barber by trade in the land of the barbarian Lusitanian. Like other beauticians, this amanuensis of the scissors and comb has the highest regard for the fine arts and common decency, ever mindful not to deface or mistreat a customer. Regrettably, this is not always so. It is common knowledge that some are just perpetually ugly, some require the smallest of helping hands and others are somewhere in between. Not everyone, of course, is a picture of beauty. A man of the beard must whisk, but an omelette needs eggs. The show brings together a digest of the artist’s recent years as a draughtsman. He draws the good and bad looks, both internal and external, of our humble Lusitanian parish and neighbourhood. Some drawings are in crayon, some in charcoal, and there are even others in Indian ink. If the visitor can be bothered to look closer, there are some containing reading material ― the artist likes to self-comment and does so with skill and wit. In other drawings it is barely possible to make out what they might represent, pervaded as they are by an abstract aesthetics. A summery visit will surly yield this summary: black pigs and sausages; a pregnant gentleman; the devil’s Persian beard; seals with goggles that do not seal; the Moon’s rough tongue; a cigarette genie instead of a lamp genie; the meteoric wind of the Indians of the Indies; the fertile crescent; the venereal tip of Cupid’s arrow; the white queen and the ice king; a cowboy thug and an old hag; a sleeping tiger, a frightening tiger and a tiger who loves chicken soup; a vitamin called aspirin; one sick person two sick persons three sick persons and a nurse; several styles of alopecia and wigs and fearsome moustaches; a mouse-cheese; a grumpy ice cream; and now yes a genie out of the lamp; nipple-shaped hats; a list of Germanic geniuses and wise French sages; one god two gods many gods; a cheeky ceramic basket; a reflection from a shattered mirror; Chip ‘n’ Dale; a mouse in his hole; two lemons; an island of melons cantaloupes and watermelons; signor Fallopius; Pippi Longstocking; the abominable snow moose; the Trojan zebra; Celeste, the reactionary young lady; the differences between Portuguese dads and foreign dads; a prismatic space-penis, etc. …all in all, 10,000 years of vandalism, barbarity!

It’s a libertarian exhibition. What else could it be?

Come visit, God willing, if you can.


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Gonçalo Pena

Gonçalo Pena (Lisbon, 1967) lives and works between Lisbon and Guimarães. Trained as a painter, Pena holds a PhD in Communication Sciences and has done extensive research on design theory and meta-design. He teaches painting, drawing and theory at a range of university institutions in Portugal and is considered an influential art professor for a younger generation of Portuguese artists.

After a distinguished career in editorial illustration for major Portuguese newspapers and magazines during the 1990s (namely Independente, Público, Ler, Egoísta and others), started showing his work more regularly as a visual artist from the mid-2000s. Presented major solo shows at ZDB, curated by Natxo Checa, and at Graça Brandão Gallery, in Lisbon, Galleria Zero, Milan. Realized several projects at Kunstverein München in 2016. Recently presented A Pele do Fantasma & A Sueca, Maria João and Armando Cabral Colletion and Gaita!, Graça Brandão Gallery, both in Lisbon, 2019. In 2020 presented Metafísica, curated by Jomão Maria Gusnão and Natxo Checa, in ZDB, Lisbon and Fábrica Falida, F2 Galería, Madrid. Since 2014, Mousse Publishing has published Pena's graphic work in monographic volumes edited by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva.