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Absence is the highest form of presence

Absence is the highest form of presence, 2009 - Julião Sarmento

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about this work

Absence is the Highest Form of Presence, consisting of a light box with 9 slides by Julião Sarmento, 9 by Robert Gober, and 9 by Luc Tuymans. It was published on the occasion of the eponymous group show with three internationally renowned artists, Robert Gober, Julião Sarmento & Luc Tuymans, at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Deurle in 2009. This ambitious exhibition-project unified the two passions of one of the best curators of his generation (Michael Tarantino, who died in 2003), namely film and visual arts. Old and new work of the artists was brought together in an exhibition, which combined film, painting and sculptural installations. Like the exhibition, this edition can be considered as a ‘conversation piece’, an intense dialogue between the oeuvre of the different artists. In this way, the viewer can be challenged to explore new perspectives and interpretations in the different works.

about Julião Sarmento

Julião Sarmento's works spans a wide variety of media, ranging from painting, drawing, sculpture to photography, film, and video, as well as sound and installations and, most recently, live performances. In a technique similar to that used in literature, with multiple strands of narratives separated by characters, space, and time, Sarmento often connects different individual elements with references to literature, photography, film, art history, or mass media to create mysterious, often disturbing visual worlds involving eroticism, violence, voyeurism, ambiguity and death. This particular choice of themes is due to Sarmento’s upbringing in Portugal under the fascistic dictatorship of Salazar. Everything that could stimulate a critical mind or an infringement of morality (e.g. nudity or sex) was prohibited. At a certain age, he then came into contact with the philosophy of the French existentialists, jazz and American magazines of Avant-Garde art, which influenced his artistic practice strongly.

Considered one of the most important artists of his generation, Julião Sarmento has exhibited extensively since the 1970s. Significant solo exhibitions of Julião Sarmento at international institutions include Haus der Kunst, München; GAM, Torino; Tate Modern, London; Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven; CAC, Malaga; White Nights, A Retrospective at Museu Serralves, Porto; and CAC, Cincinnati. He also participated in numerous group exhibitions including Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo (CA2M), Madrid; Super 8 at Yerba Buena centre for the Arts, San Francisco; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Centro de Arte Moderna, Lisbon. Sarmento represented Portugal at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1997 and he was also included in Documenta 7 and 8, the Venice Biennale (1980 and 2001), and the São Paulo Biennale.

His work is represented in many international collections, including Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Fundação de Serralves, Porto; Solomon R. Guggenheim, New York; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; LACMA, Los Angeles; MACBA Barcelona; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MoMA, New York; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and Tate Collection, London.

Julião Sarmento is represented by the following galleries;
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Sean Kelly Gallery, New York

Galeria Fortes Vilaça, Sao Paulo

Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, Lisbon

Pilar Corrias, London

Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica

Daniel Templon, Paris / Brussels

Galleria Alessandra Bonomo, Rome

Galeria Heinrich Ehrhardt, Madrid

You can also view more work of Julião Sarmento on his own website.

Learn more about this artist