This essay of introduction to Leonilsons work as a visual artist was originally written with the intent to question the metaphorical content of his works.
() As my research progressed, I determined that arguments could be made both for and against this line of inquiry: first, we might assume that Leonilsons works do not escape a simplistic AIDS metaphor, by agreeing with Lisette Lagnados categorization, particularly of his later works, as representing the allegory of illness.
According to Lisette Lagnado, this path is based on Leonilsons culturally-grounded activism , which fittingly corresponds to what Alberto Sandoval defines within the context of AIDS as a creative stage.
() Against a mighty epidemic such as AIDS, that forces the question of survival into a divisive role (as in the antithetical opposition Us versus Them), we are led across the dividing waters, to use Leonilsons own aesthetic language [Lagnado 81].
The Portuguese words guas divididas, in black handmade stitches across the striped upper portion of the piece, summon the spectator to perform this task.