ABOUT PLÁCIDO ‘POCHO’ GUIMARAES
Plácido “Pocho” Guimaraes (Malabo – Equatorial Guinea, 1951) carries on the tradition of Equatorial Guinean textile craft practice that has been passed down from generation to generation in his family. A disciple of Grau-Garriga, the materials he incorporates into his work are fabrics of African origin; old newspapers and waste materials, as well as objects found in the cities and natural environments around Malabo and Madrid. These elements are loaded with personal or family meanings, and each of the works he produces refers to a specific theme and reality of his immediate environment: his political dissidence, family customs and rituals and the place where the women of his tribe met to speak together by the river.
Equatorial Guinea achieved independence from Spain in 1968, when Plácido “Pocho” Guimaraes was 17 years old. His grandfather, Francisco Malabo, a descendant of the last Bubi king, was in charge of his education until he was 10, when he was admitted to the La Salle school in Malabo. There, he was tutored by his uncle Teodoro Obiang Nguema (now president of Equatorial Guinea). The events and the political figures involved in the independence and the immediate dictatorship of Macías Nguema, marked Pocho’s life politically. The political persecution of Macías also affected his Father, who was imprisoned, tortured and killed by the regime in 1971.
The work of Pocho Guimaraes is developed through the high heddle technique. Historically, tapestries are worked on vertical warp looms and whose weft is usually made with cotton, thread, wool, silk or linen. Pocho however, uses unusual materials: fishermen’s nets found on the beach, plastic bags, old newspaper, wires… found and residual objects that could well be interpreted in a political key referring to the reality in which they live. Pocho sees his country submerged under the current dictatorship of his uncle Teodoro Obiang, whose rule is considered one of the most repressive in the world. Wanting to escape from these inequalities encountered in his home country, he has been largely self-exiled in Spain since he was 19 years old. His political and cultural concerns led him to Kiev in 1975, where he studied Urban Planning. Upon returning to Spain, he studied Fine Arts in Valencia thereafter exploring a multitude of visual languages and collaborations in the world of dance, theatre and cinema.
From 2005 – 2019 Pocho returned to Equatorial Guinea and lived on the island of Bioko undergoing the traditional ceremonies that he was unable to perform due to his early departure from the country at the age of 17. These rituals, dances, symbols and experiences enrich his current works, reconnecting his cultural and family roots. The various objects that we find in his work, such as shells, pieces of wood, found plastics or soda cans give volume and expressiveness to the tapestry. They become symbols and help narrate the personal stories of the Bubi culture so relevant to his family’s history.
Pocho Guimaraes has been participating in exhibitions since 1984 and currently lives and works in Madrid, Spain
2022 Investec Cape Town Art Fair, EBONY/CURATED, Main Booth B3, South Africa
2020 ‘Tejidos Disidentes’, Galería Nueva Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain
Installation Episcopio Art Gallery, Collective Exhibition, Ávila, Spain
2019 ‘Sea Stories’ African Museum Exhibition, installation and Performance, Madrid, Spain
“Akooó”, Exhibition, Performance and Workshop, Mamah África Art Gallery Madrid, Spain
2018 ‘In Search of Light’ UNED (50th Anniversary of Independence Seminar, Exhibition and Talk, Madrid, Spain
2015 Albuniasi Art Gallery, Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
2014 ‘Mixing Actions and Reflections’ CCEM (Spanish Cultural Centre), Bata, Equatorial Guinea
2012 Momart EG, FNB Joburg Art Fair, Johannesburg, South Africa
2011 ‘Variatios’ (Tapestries Installation and Performance) CCEM (Spanish Cultural Centre), Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
2009 ‘Writings in the City of Malabo’ (Tapestries Installation and Performance) CCEM (Spanish Cultural Centre), Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
2003 Sala de Armas Art Gallery, Ciudadela, Pamplona, Spain
2002 Esperanza Cabaret Art Gallery, Madrid, Spain
2000 ‘Africa más Cerca’ African Art Exhibition Book Fair, Bilbao, Spain
1987 SEN Gallery Collective exhibition, Madrid, Spain
1984 Collective exhibition of Equatorial Guinean artists, Parla Savings Bank, Madrid, Spain