Natxo Checa: 53. International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

(Original: Sandra Vieira Jürgens, «Natxo Checa», Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air. 53. International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, DGArtes, Lisbon, 2009, p. lxi).

Natxo Checa is director of the Zé dos Bois Gallery (ZDB), an important independent venue located in Lisbon and dedicated to artistic creation, production and dissemination that is a landmark on the contemporary Portuguese cultural scene.

Carrying out the tasks of management, production, programming and curating from this platform, since 1994 he has led a movement in independent artistic production, with a crucial role in changing perspectives on the visual arts in Portugal. He is developing an original programming model which combines innovative proposals in the sphere of the visual and performance arts and music, and has contributed to implementing the drive to promote artistic offerings with a considerable impact in the national cultural milieu.

His curatorial activities include the presentation of projects by numerous national and international artists, with original works produced in the fields of public art, painting, design, sculpture, installation, photography, video and 16 mm film. These have grown out of a curatorial accompaniment undertaken from the initial period of research in close collaboration with the creators. Among the most recent exhibitions, the following stand out: Swim again / Nada de Novo, by Rigo (2006), co-curated with ManRay Hsu, G (2007), by João Tabarra; Transitioners (2007), by Société Réaliste; Portobello (2008), by Patrícia Almeida; and Ontem (2008), by André Cepeda.

As regards curating of visual art exhibitions held in ZBD, he has accompanied and produced, since 2001, a remarkable group of artistic projects by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva. DeParamnésia (2002), Eflúvio Magnético (2004/2006) and Abissologia (2007/2008) are the most ambitious projects in the exhibition trajectory of this pair of artists.

As a cultural agent, his activity has encompassed other initiatives, such as the direction of the Atlantic Festival in 1995, 1997 and 1999 and the facilitation of numerous interventions, collaborating with structures in the visual arts, multimedia, new music, dance and theatre. For research into curatorial studies, he was awarded the Fund for Art Research grant, in 2007-2008, by the American Center Foundation.

Currently he is organising a cycle dedicated to the North American Kenneth Anger, which will include a collective exhibition of visual arts of international scope and an anthological show of the producer, as well as a programme of lectures and performances. In respect of Zé dos Bois Gallery activities, he is preparing, for the second half of 2009, the year zero of an international centre for residencies and advanced training based in Lisbon, with the support of high-profile partner institutions.


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