Sonia Almeida: Forward/Play/Pause

Five paintings are displayed, including 2 on the floor, 2 hung flush against the wall and 1 jutting from the wall.

Installation view, Sonia Almeida: Forward/Play/Pause, MIT List Visual Arts Center, 2014.

Hayden Gallery
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Sonia Almeida
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Sonia Almeida’s work investigates tensions, both historical and contemporary, between scientific color theories—which seek to analyze the physical properties of light—and our perceptual experience of light and color.

As part of this process, she explores the limits of chromatic and symbolic abstraction and how properties traditionally associated with other mediums and disciplines—such as duration, translation, and information—can be operative in painting.

Almeida’s paintings Stacking π and Dismantling π both consider the Greek origins of Western thought on color and abstraction through the symbol π, used to represent the ratio between a circle’s circumference and diameter, and a number which cannot be expressed as the ratio of any two integers. “What can be more abstract,” Almeida notes, “than the idea of the infinite in a mathematical constant?” Red Signal gestures towards the graphical representation of light’s electromagnetic waveforms—a 19th century discovery for which the calculation of π is central—as well as the significance of the grid in both scientific and artistic representation.

Forward/Play/Pause and Silver Screen draw on the relationship between visual translation and the loss of information, such as how there can be no general mathematical formula for converting between light-based and pigment-based color models, such as RGB and CMYK, as these color spaces activate different subsets of the visible spectrum. These works also connect archetypal forms to icons of media interactivity. In moving images and painting, for example, the phenomenon of successive contrast—perceived through the afterimage left by complementary colors—means duration is always operative in the act of looking.

About the Artist

Sonia Almeida was born in 1978 in Lisbon, Portugal. She lives and works in Boston, MA. Solo exhibitions include: Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2013, 2012); T293, Rome, Italy (2011); Chiado 8Culturegest, Lisbon Portugal (2009); Croxhapox, Gent, Belgium (2009); Art Positions (with T293), Art Basel Miami Beach, FL (2009). Group shows include:12 Contemporaries-Present States, Museu de Serralves, Porto, Portugal (2014) deCordova Biennial, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Boston, MA (2013); Plentitude, Carl Freedman Gallery, London, UK (2012); a project by Lucie Fontaine, Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York, NY; Modern Talking, Muzeul National de Arta Cluj-Napoca, Romania (2012); Painting Overall, Prague Biennial 5, Prague, Czech Republic (2011); Four Rooms, Centrum Sztuki Wspólczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski, Warsaw Poland (2011); Personal Freedom, Portugal Arte 10, Lisbon, Portugal (2010); Acts Are For Actors, Southfirst Gallery, Brooklyn, New York (2010); EDP Novos Artistas, Lisbon, Portugal (2009); The Elementary Particles (Paperback Edition), Standard (Oslo), Norway (2006).

Sonia Almeida: Forward/Play/Pause is curated by MIT List Visual Arts Center Assistant Curator Alise Upitis. The artist’s book Sonia Almeida, with an essay by the curator, will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.


Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, TOKY, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, and the Friends of the List. Special thanks to Simone Subal Gallery.