Mari Chordà is a Catalan painter, poet and feminist activist born three years after the end of the Spanish Civil War. On the fringes of the patriarchal doctrines that still prevailed under the Franco dictatorship, Chordà decided to study at the Escola de Belles Arts de Barcelona, where she began to experiment with pictorial representations of the female body. In 1964 – a few years before the feminist art revolution that took place in the United States in the early 1970s with artists such as Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro – Chordà started her Vaginas series, focusing on the visual representation of femininity from a physiological perspective. Her pictorial style changed radically after she moved to Paris in 1965, becoming richer in colour – in dialogue with the trends of New Realism and Pop Art – and covering themes such as sexuality and maternity, as a result of her experience of pregnancy. In the mid-1960s, inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle’s Nanas, she created groundbreaking depictions of the female body in a “non-figurative” style, anticipating the feminist avant-garde of the following decade.
Chordà took an active part in feminist movements from the late 1960s onwards. In 1968 she founded the cultural centre “Lo Llar” in her native city. In 1977 she co-founded the legendary Bar-Biblioteca-Feminista “laSal” in Barcelona and the first feminist publishing house in Spain: “laSal Edicions de les Dones”.
Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern (London, 2015), Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (León, 2006), Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (Barcelona, 2019), Lo Pati (Amposta, 2017). It forms part of the permanent collection of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (Barcelona). She has also published several books of poems and short stories, such as Quadern del cos i l’aigua (Notebook of the body and water) with illustrations by Montse Clavé (1978), Locomotora infidel pel passat (Locomotive unfaithful to the past) (1988) and Umbilicals (Umbilicals) (2000).