Joao Penalva researches actual events right down to the smallest detail, in order to associate them with fictitious discourses and notions.
The references he incorporates are subtly thought through, whether they be people, places, films, texts or themes. In his work, the line between fact and fiction is often blurred as he melds aspects of documentary, cinéma vérité and personal memory.
Born in Lisbon, João Penalva studied ballet in the early 1970s at the London Contemporary Dance School, where he was particularly interested in the ideas and techniques of Merce Cunningham. In 1976 he turned from dance to painting, enrolling in the Chelsea School of Art. Since the 1990s Penalva has incorporated numerous other media approaches into his practice, many of which would not usually be associated with visual art, namely music, dance, writing and the organisation of various archives.
João Penalva has had solo exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin 2006; DAAD Galerie, Berlin, Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, United Kingdom 2007; Solar - Galeria de Arte Cinemática, Vila do Conde; Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin 2008; and Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich 2009. Group exhibitions in which João Penalva took part between 2006 and 2009 include the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; Museu da Electricidade, Lisbon; Museu Serralves, Porto; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxemburg; Frac Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier; Museu da Cidade, Lisbon; New Langton Arts, San Francisco; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Frac Ile-de-France, Le Plateau, Paris; Espace EDF/Electra, Paris.
João Penalva was recently awarded the Bryan Robertson Award, in London.
João Penalva is represented by Max Protetch, New York and Galeria Filomena Soares, Lisbon.