Ana Maria Pacheco was born in Goias, Brazil, in 1943. She studied sculpture at the University of Goias from 1963–64 and music at the Federal University of Goias, Brazil. This was followed by further studies in music at the University of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro in 1965 and Sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art, London in 1975.
Significant exhibitions include The Keep Enchanted Garden, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Castle Meadow (2016); the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery (1995); the Gas Hall, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (1994); Camden Arts Centre, London; the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford (1991); Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (1983) and the Hayward Annual (1982).
Pacheco has received several awards including: the Mário Pedrosa Award for contemporary artist by the Brazilian Assoc. of Art Critics (Associação Brasileira de Críticos de Arte (ABCA) in 2015; the Comenda do Anhanguera by the State of Goiás, Brazil (2012); the Ordem do Rio Branco from the Brazilian Government (1999). Pacheco has also received Honorary Degrees from the University of East Anglia and Anglia Polytechnic University and in 2003 was made a Fellow of University College London.
Travel is a recurrent theme in Ana Maria Pacheco's work, together with mysterious narratives, melodramatic encounters, sexuality, death, power, magic and secrets. Pacheco uses concealment to provoke curiosity and narrative around her work. She uses this device to make audiences look elsewhere in the sculpture for clues; thereby holding an audiences attention and encouraging prolonged exploration. All of Pacheco's work, which encompasses sculpture, painting, drawing and printmaking, fabricates a narrative. Her characters inhabit carefully woven tales that are often depicted making a journey with representation of travel paraphernalia, such as a mysterious bag or a box of tricks, which Pacheco uses as a device in order to intrigue and tease the viewer.