What was once Portugal’s biggest munitions factory is now the studio of Angolan-Portuguese artist Francisco Vidal (somewhat ironically, given Portugal’s explosive relations with its former colony, and one not lost on Vidal). Vidal, who bounces between Lisbon and Luanda, is a key figure in the Angolan vibrant visual arts scene and is part of the official selection of the Angolan Pavilion at next year’s Venice Biennale.
'Workshop,' on show at London’s Tiwani Gallery, is his first exhibition in the city, though he made an appearance at the gallery earlier this year as part of e-studio Luanda, an artists’ collective and studio complex of which he is a founder.
As the new show’s title suggests, Vidal is interested, after the Bauhaus, in the idea of art as quasi-industrial output. All of the paintings at the show were produced using what Vidal calls the U.topia Machine: a portable, all-in-one screen printing kit housed in a 60x60cm plywood box and the perfect mobile studio for the modern itinerant artist. The result: mixing vibrant colours, bold calligraphy and spray-paint slogans, have the loose punch of good graffiti and graphic novels and confident wood-cuts.