Julião Sarmento, one of Portugal’s leading contemporary artists, is exhibiting at Galerie Templon in Brussels for the first time. His works are subtle and enigmatic, exploring the mechanisms of desire and of representation.

Sarmento will be showing Fourth Easy Piece, an original in-situ installation that reinterprets Degas’ famous Petite danseuse de quatorze ans. The dancer has become a woman, her naked body, sculpted and smooth, a 3-D print. She turns her back on the works hanging behind her from a rail, a ‘small panorama of what we might term a plastic autobiography’ (Jacinto Lageira). The entire show places us, once again, face-to-face with Julião Sarmento’s obsessions: fragmentation; the gap between fiction and reality; references to Degas and Marcel Duchamps; latent eroticism.

As suggested by the exhibition title Easy Pairings Fractals Stars, Sarmento is a big fan of mysterious combinations. His paintings and works on paper feature juxtapositions of recurrent themes: a faceless female archetype, lines that are plant-like or geometrical, and references to literature and architecture. A window opened onto narratives and relationships, Julião Sarmento’s work invites the viewer to give free reign to her or his imagination and the voyeuristic pleasures of the fragmented glimpse.

Born in Lisbon in 1948, Julião Sarmento studied painting and architecture at the Lisbon School of Fine Arts. In the 1970s, he began to develop a method combining painting, video and sound and modelled installations. He has taken part in over a hundred exhibitions throughout the world. Julião Sarmento represented Portugal at the Venice Biennial in 1997. More recently, his work has featured at London's Tate Modern, with a dedicated Artist Room, the Malaga Centro de Arte Contemporaneo in Spain (2010), the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati (2011), and the Fundaçao Serralves in Porto, which held a major retrospective of his work in 2012. In 2014, the Nice MAMAC will be showing the first French retrospective of his works.

Julião Sarmento's work is included in numerous major public collections, including at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre Pompidou in Paris and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.