Originally trained as an opera singer, Araújo pursued degrees in Sculpture and Visual Arts. Since then he has expanded his artistic practice to include painting, drawing, film and video, performance, site specific installations as well as sound. Araújo’s works are firmly grounded in European classical culture, taking cues from operas such as Guiseppe Verdi’s Aida, as well as works of literature such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Homer’s The Odyssee.
Araújo reinterprets and reinvents these historical works to comment on current social norms and values, with a keen focus on the marginalisation of minorities. The result is often a subversion of the original message, questioning issues of race, class and gender.
These subversive acts are typified in Araújo’s É nos sonhos que tudo começa (2014) (It is in dreams that all begins). Here the artist reworks extracts from the novel Yaka by the Angolan author Pepetela and the memoir Cadernos de memórias coloniais (Notebook of Colonial Memories) by Portuguese writer Isabela Figueiredo.
The artist describes his method as a ‘guerrilla tactic’, using the status of the original artworks to legitimise the message of his reinterpretations. Recurring themes in Araújo’s work are the fluidity and the performative nature of gendered identities, the reconstitution of erased voices, and the exercise of agency, power and control, often through the prism of sex and desire.
‘I want people to react with emotion. I hope that they not only get passionate, but also feel like they’ve been punched in the stomach. Discomfort, that is what I want, because discomfort provokes internal questioning.’ - Vasco Araújo