Silvestre Pestana (1949, Funchal, Madeira) is one of the most radical figures in Portuguese contemporary art. A poet, artist, and performer, Pestana has created a singular body of work in a variety of media since the late 1960s. The first major presentation of his work took place in 2016 at the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art. Featuring a selection of works acquired for the Serralves Collection together with works belonging to the artist’s Collection, this exhibition highlights the intersections between poetry and visual arts that mark his practice, underlining the artist’s pioneering use of video, performance, and installation in the confrontation between society, art, and technology.
Emerging from a group of experimental poets in the 1960s, Pestana combined the visual arts with poetry as a form of resistance against censorship. Returning to Portugal in 1974 after several years in exile in Sweden, Pestana developed a unique visual grammar using light, language, and visual forms that conceive the human body as a social, ideological, and technological circuit. Using the moving image as a tool for performative and poetic action, Pestana became one of the pioneering figures of video art in Portugal. Always an early adopter of novel technologies, in recent decades Pestana has utilized computing, gaming software, drones, GIFs, and avatars to develop new expressions of artistic resistance.
‘Silvestre Pestana: A countercyclical artist’ is part of the Touring Exhibitions Programme of the Serralves Collection, which aims to make the Foundation’s collection accessible to different audiences across the country.
Production: Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto
Image: Silvestre Pestana, Sculpture-poems (detail), 1969. Col. Fundação de Serralves – Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Porto. Artist’s donation in 2018. Photo: Filipe Braga, Fundação de Serralves, Porto