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Urban Times

©François Lauginie

Urban Times, 1991

Leonel Moura
  • Artist (1948)
www.leonelmoura.com

Leonel Moura is the most representative Portuguese artist of his generation. To sum up his praxis as that of a “political”, “committed” artist, deeply influenced by progressive ideas, would be to underestimate the complexity of an approach which draws, in the first instance, from readings of International Situationist writings and the theses put forward by Guy Debord about the society of the spectacle. “We must abandon the contemplative position of the melancholic subject and the comfortable vision of the past in favour of a political vision of the present” (L. Moura).  Resistance (against capitalist violence, and against any mechanism of domination) and becoming social might define the bases of an approach which is inspired by a multiple cultural repertory, where there is a clash between the meanings of text and image, photography and language, and the image mechanically reproduced in the wake of Benjamin. The artist thus appropriates referential images in “a world made of references, where the reality of things already no longer has its place” (Langage, 1979). He thus draws from architecture, philosophy, and history to put these borrowings back together in an open system of thinking, helping to amplify the public dimension of art. Since 2003, Leonel Moura has been interested in Artificial Intelligence and robotics. He has produced different robot painters, each time more autonomous and sophisticated, and in particular, in 2006, the robot called RAP (Robotic Action Painter) for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Leonel Moura was born in 1948 in Lisbon. Since 1988 he has been offered a very large number of public commissions. He has had an increasing number of solo shows in Portugal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States. In 1995, the Institute of Contemporary Art at Villeurbanne held a solo exhibition of his work. In 1995 and 2001, he was director of the The Utopia Biennial at Cascais, Portugal. Leonel Moura regularly takes part in conferences as a lecturer (Rencontre mondiale des arts, Valencia, 2000; Atlantic Festival, Lisbon, 1999; Institut d’Art Contemporain, Villeurbanne, 1988). He was appointed European Ambassador for Creativity and Innovation in 2009.