Pop Galo is a monumental public art work inspired by one of the most relevant symbols of popular Portuguese culture: the Rooster of Barcelos. Aware of its aesthetic value and iconic power, the artist revisited the rooster of Barcelos with a contemporary look, allying the tradition of national handmade tile-making to the more modern LED technology.
Keeping the aesthetic richness of the rooster of Barcelos, the artist makes four important transformations to this symbol: enlarges it to a monumental scale – 10 metres high; covers it with around 17 thousand handmade tiles – designed at the artist's studio and manually produced and painted at the centenarian Viúva Lamego factory; and introduces a dazzling game of sound and light, through the composition by musician Jonas Runa and thousands of LED lights – approximately 15 thousand – that fill the coloured surface of the work, conferring to this technological Rooster of Barcelos different interpretations, transforming the work from day to night. The extraordinary richness of the multiple symbologies associated to the rooster in different countries and cultures confer the work a singular capacity of international outreach.
POP GALO, 2016
Viúva Lamego hand painted tiles, LED, fibreglass, iron, power supply units, controllers, sound system
Sound and light composition by Jonas Runa
900 x 372 x 682 cm
Collection of the artist
Work produced with the support of Gallo Worldwide
Pop Galo started its tour in Lisbon, on November 2016, on the occasion of one of the most international and relevant events in the Portuguese capital - the WEB SUMMIT. Beijing hosted the sculpture on March 2017 to celebrate the Year of the Fire Rooster of the Chinese calendar. In 2018, it travelled to Bilbao to be part of Joana Vasconcelos's solo exhibition I'm Your Mirror, at the Guggenheim Museum, from 29 June to 11 November. At the end of 2018, it landed on the city whose legend gave it rise, Barcelos, where it stayed until September 2019. In 2020 it was installed in Yorkshire in an open-air park, integrated in the individual exhibition of Joana Vasconcelos «Beyond», which opened on March 7, 2020 and was extended until January 9, 2022.
The rooster of Barcelos is the most important identity icon of Portugal and is related to a medieval legend.
One of the several versions of the legend has it that the inhabitants of Barcelos, a small town in the north of Portugal, were alarmed by an unpunished crime. A pilgrim, who was one day passing through Barcelos, was reported as the criminal to the judge. Despite claiming his innocence, the pilgrim was arrested and sentenced to the gallows. Before being hanged, he asked as a final wish to be taken to the judge who had condemned him. At the judge's house, who was about to carve a roast rooster, the pilgrim prayed and said: 'It is most certain that I am innocent as the rooster on the table will crow before the day ends!'. Everyone laughed, but for great astonishment, before the end of the day the rooster stood up and crowd. The judge ran to the gallows and released the poor innocent.
The rooster of Barcelos is nowadays the most popular piece of traditional Portuguese pottery. It represents honesty, integrity, trust and honour and is believed to bring luck and happiness.