Joana Galego Portuguese, b. 1994

Joana Galego’s powerfully intriguing works are artfully constructed spaces, resplendent in texture, form carved out of dark and shadow and line. Galego’s oeuvre is often compared to the work of post impressionism but as well the artist notes her connection to the work of Peter Doig, sharing that in her contemporary practice she also seeks to create paintings that serve as a portal to an emotional state, evoking memory and sensibility through colours, shape and texture. As such, an element of mystery remains at the core of her vision. 


Galego begins her work with the paper or canvas stretched onto the studio wall, applying the first layers of acrylics, followed by oils, she will often add other materials including charcoal and pastel. This approach reflects the artist’s experimental process meant to express an imprinted personal experience. Within these tableaux, the artist interprets the life of emotions within relationships, particularly “the idea of power, submission, vulnerability, miscommunication, loneliness and guilt.”


Galego’s paintings are inky yet richly coloured compositions that ingeniously balance abstraction with texture parallel with a post-impressionist sense of representation. Indeed, the artist’s paintings share a mastery of line and aesthetic beauty with the painters she admires. She describes the importance of looking at the work of classical modernists as well as the work of Piero della Francesca. “From Kitaj I tried to learn about texture and composition, from Gauguin I learnt about colour, from Munch about feeling, from Degas about stillness, drawing and movement, from Modersohn-Becker about skin and how to make faces and bodies mine. In other words, these are my representations of faces and bodies rather than an attempt at copying them. From Piero della Francesca I believe I learnt about drawing, attention to detail, passion and respect towards the work itself, towards the painting.”


It is perhaps this affinity for the act of painting that makes Galego’s work stand apart from her contemporaries, a gravitas of form and pigment, paired with a stunning sense of reverie and beauty found within the depth of paint, charcoal, canvas and paper. 


Rosa JH Berland