LEALVEILEBLY, "Grotesque January"

LEALVEILEBLY, “Grotesque January”

EN (download pdf)


grotesque january


Somehow it seemed only appropriate, as an artist duo, to name this show after the month of its inauguration, as the first month of the year in its own turn is named after Janus, the double-faced Roman god presiding over beginnings, ends, gates, duality and transitions – whether abstract or concrete, sacred or profane. The themes and motifs of doubleness and transformation have had a presence in our works for many years, and biographical references and symbolic representation have been recurrent tools for the exploration of spaces where the real is as magical as the magical is real.

For Galeria Graça Brandão we have put together a constellation of works to create a mise-en-scène, invoking the accidental discovery of the buried ruins of emperor Nero’s palace complex, the Domus Aurea. It happened when a young shepherd, while tending his flock on the slope of the Esquiline hill on the outskirts of Rome in the late-fifteenth-century, fell through the foliage covering a deep hole in the ground. Once back on his feet he found himself in a large vaulted hall, filled with bizarre and monstrous paintings covering the walls. Here one thing became many, a goat morphed into a man, that was a leaf, that was a fish, that was a pillar. And so artists, scholars and the curious from all over soon hurried to be lowered into the hole, traversing the fall of the shepherd, to observe for themselves that rediscovered style of Roman painting. As the place resembled a grotto, these paintings came to be called grotteschi ”grotesque”.


Though the word grotesque has come to mean many things (from the strange, mysterious, magnificent, fantastic, hideous, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, right down to the disgusting), the fundamental traits in all its instances is that of doubleness, hybridity and metamorphosis. To apply the grotesque as a method is to position all things on the same level of existence: humans, animals, plants, objects, the non-material and the phantasmic.


When entering Galeria Graça Brandão the first thing to greet you is a longstanding collaboration with António’s father, Ismael Leal (1933). Having always been interested in woodwork, he embraced it as an active pastime while recovering from cancer treatment, engaging in a ”vernacular” artform, making goats, sheeps, bulls, cows and horses from memory. All the animals he was familiar with from his rural upbringing. Over the years we have commissioned him to make several two-headed and double-ended animals in a variety of expressive paint-jobs. Past these initial encounters, and located furthest in on the top floor, you will find a video-audio piece, a pictura somnium (dream painting)1 in three chapters.


As a central piece to the exhibition a robe made for two hangs suspended at the lower floor, borrowing from historical, religious and medical models, and adorned with coins acquired through the years by the lived experience of our respective families. Surrounding it are four vertical video-carousels, part of an exploratory series of works constructed from scenes and observations of daily life captured through mobile devices.


– António Leal and Jesper Veileby, January 2023


1 Pictura somnium was the moniker given in 1556 by architect Daniele Barbaro to, in his eyes, belittle those newly rediscovered Roman ”grotesque” paintings – quoted in A. Chastel. La Groteska, translated by S. Lega, Milan, Se, 2010, p. 22.






António Leal (Lisbon, 1976) holds a MFA from Malmö Art Academy, a degree in Pharmaceutical sciences from the University of Lisbon, and studied at Maumaus in Lisbon. Jesper Veileby (Karlstad, Sweden, 1985) holds a MFA and BFA from Malmö Art Academy. They are married and live and work in Malmö, Sweden.


They began collaborating in 2011 while studying at Malmö Art Academy, and as LealVeileby they have developed projects that incorporate biographical elements and interweave storytelling with everyday life. Their multidisciplinary practice investigates human perception and reality systems through the lens of scientific speculation, esotericism and language.


Noteworthy mentions, from their CV, are their participation in the group show ”In the City grows a Field” at Malmö Konsthall (2022), showing at the digital exhibition space of Bonniers Konsthall (2021) and videobrasil.online (2022), major solo exhibitions at Skånes konstförening in Malmö (2021, 2018) and Espaço Campanhã in Oporto (2018, 2013), receiving working grants from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee (2021, 2020), awarded the Aase & Richard Björklunds Fond from Malmö Art Museum (2019) and the Acquisition Award EDP Foundation/MAAT/Fuso (2017), and selected for the book Portuguese Emerging Art 2020 published by Emerge and PLMJ Foundation (2020). Their work is included in the collection of the EDP Foundation.


20.01.2023 - 25.03.2023


Artists, Past Exhibitions, Past Exhibitions