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Maria José (Zé) Ventura was born on May 10 1956, and she was named after her great-grandmother, the mother of her paternal grandfather. But it was in Monchique that she grew up and formed her perspective, between the family home located in the town (designed by the architect António Vicente de Castro) and the visits to her grandparents in Caldas de Monchique, 
with its modern architectural lines and the colours of the Mountains. From the Algarve coastline, she still preserves the light and the colours of the sea, and both these influences – from the Mountains and from the Sea – are inevitably reflected in
her work, since the artist’s interior landscape is shaped not only by her emotions and the intrinsic need to create, but also by the exterior landscape of her Algarve. 

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Zé showed an interest in, and aptitude for, drawing from a very early age, following a natural
 path that

(Jornal de Monchique, 1998).

However, she was disappointed with Fine Arts’ teaching methods and decided to continue to forge her own path, perfecting her drawing and painting. In 1987, she took up weaving, a technique that earned her the National Handicraft Award (promoted by the Portuguese Employment and Training Institute - IEFP) in 1993. 


“I didn’t really choose (...). I never thought about anything else” 

Pencil Drawing

Embroidery made by her mother


In Portimão, she continues to develop her art in the workshop she shares with her husband, the architect João Barros. Her husband passed away in 2005.
Currently has her studio in Monchique.

In 1984 she presented, in the Gallery of the Slave Market in Lagos, a collection of drawings, weaving and painted fabric. She was interviewed, and revealed:

I have always drawn. I still have the notebooks, full of drawings, from when I entered Primary School, and I remember that even before this, I drew. I included in my first solo Exhibition, a drawing from 1968 .”


Desenho a canetas de feltro

“(...) I’m outside contemplating my journey in colours 
In the textures I’ve created with the fabrics

The glues, the pastes

Covering textures with colours 
Creating spaces movement

The Me on the outside astonished by the Me on the inside Constant searching

Don’t stop don’t stop

sometimes there’s a quiver from the outside

and time’s not enough

Is it work?

Is it work seeing the colours that

Surround us, the relationship between me and Earth?” 

Zé Ventura 1988

Bordado feito pela mãe


…my drawings are part of me, a mouth through which I speak, not in words but through the drawing. Each one understands, each receives in his own way.


I began this type of work on the art of weaving out of curiosity, it is a complex apparatus, but yet works in a simple way. The weaving is made by crossing the threads - Warp and -Weft. 


All that surrounding structure impresses, yet at the same time it has the delicacy of a musical instrument. It is an apparatus, (instrument / machine), almost without age, as there are references from 3,500 a.C.

The artist has woven pieces that look like paintings and paintings that look like weaving. Painting and weaving are two almost inseparable forms of expressing herself.

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What Zé Ventura does in the cultural field, is a recycling, not of fragments of textile, but of the soul and the techniques of the old fabrics, bringing together tradition and modernity, and changing, with her own elaboration of mind, and with the help of those magical tools of her body, her hands, the old into the new.

“I am made of the words of others, which intersect within me or through me (...) Design is, for me, an infinite line which surrounds me and runs through me. ” 


She attend Escola Superior de Belas Artes in Lisbon (1976/1980) and then she moved to Portimão and Monchique where she has her studio. She has held several painting and weaving exhibitions in Portugal and Germany. Her most relevant individual exhibitions were placed in Museu Nacional do Traje in Lisbon (2002), Palácio da Galeria in Tavira (2006), Centro Cultural de Lagos (2006 and 2018), Custódio Moutinho Lda in Lisbon (2007) and Museu de Portimão (2008).





Ana Lourenço Pinto - Exhibition Curator “Uma Retrospectiva?” - Centro Cultural de Lagos (2019).

Silva Carriço - Exhibition Curator “As Cores do Tempo” - Galeria Sto Antonio, Monchique (2005).

Madalena Braz Teixeira - Director of  Museu Nacional do Traje - “Cores Tecidas”, Lisboa (2002).

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