Helena Almeida was born in Lisbon in 1934, where she lived and worked. She died in 2018 in Sintra, at the house designed by her husband, architect Artur Rosa, partner in life and art.
She has participated in exhibitions regularly since the late 60's of the last century. In the late 1970s, her work becomes international, with individual exhibitions in Bern (Galerie and + the Friedrich), where, in 1978, she conceived her only sound work: Vê-me. ” In 1982 and 2005, she was the Portuguese representative to the Venice Biennial, her first time with curatorship by Ernesto de Sousa. This artist, filmmaker, critic, who marked the Portuguese context of the time, was one of the interlocutors elected by Helena Almeida in these years of affirmation and development of a career, today nationally and internationally recognized.
However, because her work was mainly based on self-representation by the use of photography as a medium, the 1980s, marked by the return to painting and sculpture, were years of scarce visibility for the artist.
This cycle is interrupted in 1998, with the anthological exhibition Entrada Azul, at the Casa de América, in Madrid, integrated into the Miradas Atlânticas cycle, organized by the extinct Institute of Contemporary Art, which allowed direct contact with her work, a revelation for many critics and international curators. Thus, following this exhibition, Helena Almeida became present in successive international exhibitions, from which one of the most representative was the retrospective organized by the Galician Center for Contemporary Art (Santiago de Compostela, 2000) and the individual in 2003 at the Galerie im Taxispalais, Innsbruck. In 2004, she participated in the Sydney Biennial and exhibited individually Inhabited Drawings at the Drawing Center, New York, and was present at the Belém Cultural Center, Lisbon with the retrospective Pés no chão, cabeça no céu.
Between 2015 and 2017, the itinerant anthological exhibition Corpus, first presented at the Foundation of Serralves in Porto, then went to Jeu de Paume, Paris, to Wiels, Brussels, and ended in Ivam, Valencia. Still in 2017, the solo exhibition Work is Never Finished was shown at the Art Institute in Chicago, and, in 2018 in Lisbon, at the Arpad Szenes Museum - Vieira da Silva, O outro casal, an exhibition centered on the works in which she was represented with Artur Rosa .
Also noteworthy are other individual exhibitions: Tela rosa para vestir, Fundación Telefónica, Madrid (2008); Inside Me, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge (2009), and John Hansard Gallery, University of Southampton (2010), as well as the exhibitions in the following galleries: Presença, Porto; Filomena Soares, Lisboa; Filles du Calvaire, Paris; Helga de Alvear, Madrid, where her last works were presented, in 2018.
Among the collective exhibitions, it is worth highlighting the presentations at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2005), or A Bigger Splash, at Tate Modern, in London (2013).
She received various awards, namely the prize of the 11th Tokyo Biennal (1979), the PHotoEspaña (2003), BES Photo and AICA (2004) and the Extremadura a La Creación award (2008).
Her work is present in important collections, among which stand out: the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Luso-American Foundation and the Chiado Museum, in Lisbon; the Serralves Foundation, in Porto; Fundación Helga de Alvear, Centro de Artes Visuales, in Cáceres; Fundación ARCO e Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, in Madrid; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; MEIAC - Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporáneo, Badajoz; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona; Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxemburgo; Sammlung Verbund Collection, Viena; Tate Modern, Londres; Art Institute, Chicago.
In Brazil, the work of Helena Almeida participated in the Portuguese representation at the 15th Bienal de São Paulo, in 1977, alongside Lourdes Castro. Her works also participated in collective exhibitions of Portuguese artists, such as Photographer Artists in Portugal, at MAC USP, in 1984, 70-80 Portuguese Art, at MAM-SP and MAM-RJ, in 1987, Portugal Novo – Artists of Today and Tomorrow, at Estação Pinacoteca de São Paulo, in 2005. The artist was present at the 28th Bienal de São Paulo, in 2008, where she participated in a conversation with Isabel Carlos, at the invitation of the curator Ivo Mesquita.