João Penalva is a Portuguese artist who has been living in the UK since studying at Chelsea School of Art in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Making art is his second career – in his first he was a dancer, working with Pina Bausch and Gerhard Bohner. His work betrays this history - it is primarily about storytelling through the partnership of images and elaborate often beguiling narratives. Penalva is known for making large-scale installations in various media, as well as more intimate works with video and slide projections, sound, drawing, painting and found materials. Through these media he addresses narrative modes and the relationships between images, text, language and sound. His storytelling is often fractured, presenting juxtaposed narrative elements, allowing the viewer a latitude of freedom in their interpretation.
João Penalva was born in Lisbon in 1949 and has lived and worked in London since 1976. He was awarded the DAAD Berlin Artist's Residency in 2003/2004. He represented Portugal in the XXIII Bienal Internacional de São Paulo, 1996, and in the XLIX Biennale di Venezia, 2001. He exhibited also in the Berlin Biennale 2, 2001, and the 2002 Biennale of Sydney. Other solo exhibitions include: Camden Arts Centre, London; Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius; Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck; Tramway, Glasgow, 2000; Rooseum, Malmö, 2002; Institute of Visual Arts, Milwaukee, and The Power Plant, Toronto, 2003; Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Oporto, and Ludwig Museum Budapest, 2005; Irish Museum of Modern Art, 2006; DAAD Gallery, Berlin, and Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, England, in 2007; Lunds Konsthall, Lund, Sweden, 2010 and most recently Centro de Arte Moderna, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, in 2011.