New Artist & New Exhibition: Leonor Almeida Pereira, The Familiar Unknown

Black Pony Gallery is getting set to open an online exhibition tomorrow [April 10] showcasing works by artist Leonor Almeida Pereira, a mixed media artist currently living in São Miguel Island, the Azores.

Curator Lisa Howie said, “Black Pony Gallery aims to represent talented contemporary artists from the Atlantic World, starting with Bermuda and extending north and south from the Azores to Trinidad. Since starting in July 2019, the gallery now represents ten artists from Bermuda and the vision of expanding out to other islands is swiftly becoming a reality.

“Black Pony is delighted to welcome artist Leonor Almeida Pereira, a mixed media artist currently living in São Miguel Island, the Azores. Pereira is featured in an exclusive online solo exhibition entitled The Familiar Unknown, April 10 – May 4, 2020. In this series of abstract paintings, Pereira explores the oceanic horizon and landscape as spaces that are at once familiar and unknown. Sculptural qualities entice us to feel the contours, to immerse into the depths, or plunge headlong into a sea with or without colour.

“Pereira, or Loope as she would prefer to be called, has a degree in Fine Arts – Painting, from the University of Évora, Portugal, and a specialization in contemporary art studies, a Masters and Doctorate in Fine Arts, from the University of Vigo, Spain.

“In São Miguel, her birthplace, she has been a coordinator at the Arquipélago Contemporary Art Center and a curator at the Museum Carlos Machado. In 2018 she opened Oficina in Ponta Delgada, an art gallery and studio, where she creates her artwork and promotes the work of other artists, local and foreign.”

Below is a short Q & A between the artist and curator Lisa Howie.

LH: Since meeting you last August I’m excited to announce that you are the first non-Bermuda based artist to join Black Pony Gallery. Thank you so much for the opportunity to work together. The Azores is a beautiful place. How does island life inform your artwork?

Loope: Thank you for having me. In my artwork, I search to express a certain mood, my mood or the island’s [maybe both], using a visual language influenced by geography, geology, volcanology, etc. For me, beauty is important; I consider it a human need, a matter of health, and nature stands out as some of its scenarios are printed in my brain as guidelines.

However, what drives me to do my work is something else that is present in me regardless of where I live, more like a mind set, a predisposition. I read somewhere that intuition was processed in a region of the brain called insula, a word that derives ‘island’. I found that curious. So, I guess the island informs my artwork in mysterious ways.

LH: Materials, especially paper, and how it can be transformed is of particular interest in your portfolio. Can you describe your art making process?

Loope: Paper is a very resourceful material for the numerous possibilities it gives you. You have quality paper being produced for art practice, amazing paper that enhances your best intentions, but that can also intimidate you or even paralyze you because it is so beautiful that the best thing you can do with it is let it be.

This paper is pleasant and polite; a dialogue with it rarely turns into an argument. On the other hand, there is so much paper waste, paper lost from its original purposes: pages of old books with time printed on their yellowish worn-out edges that can be given a different use, one that also tells a story; or rough paper used for packaging that can be transformed into a 3D bird-view landscape.

These are available and willing to participate materials, but you have to appreciate the element of surprise or, more important yet, you have to respect their unpredictable character and pay attention to what they have to say. In any case, the creative process is always a dialogue with the specific qualities of the materials and tools.

LH: I understand that you have changed gallery spaces since I was last in Ponta Delgada. How is your new location?

Loope: This new space offers better conditions to develop my artwork as well as to welcome and host the work of other artists so I’m very pleased with it. It went through a process of transformation and it was great to see it becoming what I had imagined. I’m also proud of what it represents as it houses an independent project.

LH: How is the contemporary art scene in São Miguel Island?

Loope: The Azores is now more appealing not only as a region that artists can visit and show their work, but also as a place to work in residence. But offering these opportunities is not the same as having a healthy creative local environment. We lack art-schools as well as a certain cultural dynamic that comes of a network of art professionals living here and developing their work in a regular bases, showcasing their work, talking about it, sharing concerns and points of view, joined in common projects, creating discussions and opportunities to themselves and others.

It’s a field with many gaps. But I believe things are changing. I can also say that I will try to bring my contribution by developing this project the best way I can.

LH: I couldn’t ask for anything more. I think the world is going to love your artwork. The best thing we can do for our ocean bound artistic talents is to find creative solutions for engaging with a wider audience. The Atlantic World is a fresh territory for the art market to explore albeit not a necessarily easy one to navigate in reality. Being online is liberating for everyone involved. And now they have found you.