Graduated from Villa Arson, Vilhena practices drawing and painting from a neoconceptual position. His work is and has always been, led by the interest he takes in the role of the beholder. For the artist, a work is made by the look upon it, which activates it and creates its meaning. A virtuoso of the pencil and the word, João Vilhena feints, hides, substitutes, and disguises without ever unveiling what lies beyond. To this purpose, he uses different means like optical illusions, trompe l'oeils or anamorphoses, as well as works' titles spoonerisms, anagrams, and other word games.
His recent exhibitions include Beau à la Louche, at Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris 2022; Troubles topiques, group show, Centre culturel et sportif La Tour à Plomb, Bruxelles 2021; Rincontrarsi a Venezia, group show, Spazio Berlendis, Venice 2021; At the End of the Day, group show, OMM - Odunpazarı Modern Museum in Eskisehir, Turkey 2021; Instructions pour couper les ficelles at Galerie Alberta Pane, Paris in 2020; The collection of Mr. X, The man who lived 500 years, curator: Joana P. R. Neves, at Galerie Alberta Pane in Venice in 2019. He presented a solo show for Drawing Now Art Fair, Paris 2019 ; in 2015 he presented his work on the exhibition Les fragments de l'amour, curator: Léa Bismuth, at La Traverse Contemporary Art Center, in Alfortville, France, also in Recto/Verso at the Vuitton Foundation. The same year he presented his solo show Érothéisme le dessin sacré at the Galerie Alberta Pane in Paris. In 2015 he was exposed also in Documents 1945 - 2015, URDLA, in Villeurbanne, and in Focus de Résonance in the 13th Lyon Bienniale, among others. In 2014 in Paris 23 rue de la Boétie; in Back at the River’s edge at Galeria Starter in Varsovie, Poland, in GRA-PHIC, Dessin contemporain, PHAKT at centre Colombier in Rennes, France. In 2012 in Plutôt comme un soupçon que comme une certitude at Saffir Galerie Nomade in Marseille, and in TOUT doit disparaître, at Atelier des Vertus in Paris. In 2011, he presented the solo show Deux lunes a l'autre at Galerie Alberta Pane in Paris and ICI NICE in Nice, France.
His work is featured in the 2018 Hazan Guide to Contemporary Art by Roxana Azimi. In 2015 his catalog Frictions et cri de soie was published. It presents texts by Roxana Azimi, Léa Bismuth, Anne Collongues, Charline Guibert, Frédéric Farrucci, Jérémie Scheidler, Marie Lisel and Tristan Trémeau. Among the articles that have appeared in the French press are Introducing João Vilhena by Léa Bismuth published on Artpress in 2014 and Coup de cœur by Evelyne Deret in Le Quotidien de l'art in 2015.
His work is part of the collection of the CNAP (Centre National des arts plastiques, France), the Rothschild Bank collection in Lisbon, Portugal, and the OMM - Odunpazarı Modern Museum, Eskisehir, Turkey, as well as numerous private collections.