A free one-room show which draws on Birmingham’s collection of modern and contemporary art to explore how artists have used a wide range of styles and imagery to interpret complex human emotion and experiences. The display is centred around the sculpted polychrome group Man and His Sheep (1989) by the Brazilian-born artist Ana Maria Pacheco, which has not been on show for over five years. The striking installation consists of eight lifelike carved wooden figures arranged in a procession. Each imposing figure is carved from a single piece of limewood then painted and waxed to give a startling lifelike appearance, enhanced by their onyx eyes and acrylic teeth, which add a somewhat sinister expression. Pacheco’s oil painting In Illo Tempore I (1994) is also on display. The display also includes two Picasso etchings from the Vollard Suite. Winged Bull Watched by Four Children (1934) shows a monstrous mythological beast, whilst Portrait of Vollard (1937) uses lighter and darker shades to depict different characteristics of Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer who commissioned the Suite of prints. For conservation reasons neither of these works on paper are likely to be on display again soon. Other artists whose portraits are featured in the exhibition include a self-portrait by the Birmingham-born David Bomberg and Frank Auerbach’s etching of his friend the art historian Michael Podro. Click here for more information.
The 58th Biennale of Venice opened on 11 May. Here is a
(non-comprehensive) list of Iberian and Latin American artists represented at
the exhibition, which runs until 24 November 2019, and at accompanying events.
Mexican artist Teresa Margolles was awarded a Special
Mention at the event’s opening ceremony. By shifting existing structures from
the real world into the Exhibition halls, Margolles creates sharp and poignant
works that deal with the plight of women grossly affected by the narcotics
trade in her native country. Her work Muro
Ciudad Juárez. 2010 can be found in the Biennale’s central pavilion at the
Giardini, entitled May You Live in Interesting Times and curated by Ralph
Other Latin American artists invited to participate in the Biennale’s international exhibition (split between the Giardini and Arsenale) are Jill Mulleady (born in 1980 in Uruguay), Gabriel Rico (born in 1980 in Mexico) and Tomás Saraceno (born in 1973 in Argentina).
The international exhibition is accompanied by 89 national participations. Spain’s pavilion, located at the entrance of the Giardini, showcases Perforated, a collaboration between Itziar Okariz and Sergio Prego. Through performance, video, and sound, Okariz explores the displacements between the subject, the language, and its physical presence. Prego’s sculptural works relate to architecture, calling materiality into question through the use of lightweight, flexible materials that allow the form to only exist in a specific state or as a result of a continuous action on the constituent material. Both artists reiterate the alternative functions of the body in our technified society.
Brazil’s pavilion, Swinguerra, takes its title from a combination of swingueira, a popular dance movement in the north-east of Brazil, and guerra, war. Wagner & de Burca’s work focuses on the powerful expressions of popular culture in contemporary Brazil, and their complex relationship with international and local traditions.
exhibition, La casa empática, paintings, drawings, photographs, and
mural works by Yamandú Canosa are arranged as a ‘landscape-territory’ of the
world, an inclusive and empathic ‘total landscape’. The total landscape is
completed by the intervention on the facade and by the starry sky installed in
the ceiling of the pavilion.
de las tres ventanas. Venezuela: Identidad en tiempo y espaciois the pavilion of Venezuela.
Three metaphorical windows— thresholds for light, air, and the gaze—symbolise
the long construction of collective history and an all-encompassing narrative filled
with challenges and rebellion. Venezuela aims to promote its libertarian
identity, woven over the centuries, and share it in a clear gesture of
invitation to the complicity of others.
Other national pavilions are located in the Arsenale. Argentina’s
exhibition, El nombre de un país/The Name of a Country is a punk,
Frankensteinish bestiary that flaunts a high-fashion collection attitude. Mariana
Telleria traces a highway with an infinite number of linguistic lanes,
activating confusion—mixing things together, building monsters—and sustaining
viewers’ awareness in a continual state of transit.
Pavilion, Altered Views, Voluspa Jarpa offers a proposal for
decolonisation through a review of European history. Altered Views
comprises three reversed cultural spaces/models: the Hegemony Museum,
the Subaltern Portrait Gallery, and the Emancipating Opera. The
project collects concepts that defined colony: race and cross-breeding,
subordinate male subjects, cannibalism, gender, civilisation and barbarism,
monarchy and republic, appealing to a critical view from a transtemporal
Mexicois represented by Actos de dios/Acts of God by Pablo
Vargas Lugo. This exhibition which speculates on the life of Christ to generate
a non-linear narrative that raises new questions. What would happen if the man
who was chosen to redeem humanity had set out to fulfil all the predictions
made by the prophets about his life without being certain that he could
“Indios antropófagos”. A butterfly
Garden in the (Urban) Jungle, the exhibition of Peru,
is a paradox: a post-conceptual exploration of the fiery sensory impact of
Amazon culture on certain (neo)Baroque horizons in Peruvian art, namely in Christian
Bendayán’s work, where it is energised by a critical reconsideration of the
Amazon as a constructed image.
Other national exhibitions are dotted around Venice. In Cannaregio, the Dominican Republic presents Naturaleza y biodiversidad en la República Dominicana. This is the country’s first independent national pavilion at the Biennale. It offers a reflection on ecological threats affecting the luxuriant local nature, the Earth and humankind.
Next to the Dominican Republic is Guatemala’s
Interesting State. The term
‘interesting state’ evokes a woman who is pregnant. Acts of violence against
women constitute the denial of existence. Guatemala is an ‘interesting State’ because
of the persistence of this devastating phenomenon. Art therefore becomes an
ethical instrument, in which the seductive aesthetic nature of the works is
there to serve an indispensable social denunciation and an essential
opportunity for redemption.
Portugal’s pavilion, a seam, a surface, a hinge or a knot, features artist Leonor Antunes reflecting on the functions of everyday objects and contemplating their potential to be materialised as abstract sculptures. The artist is interested in how craftsmanship traditions from various cultures intersected in the work of Venetians such as Carlo Scarpa, Savina Masieri and Egle Trincanato. Elements of the exhibition are fabricated with Falegnameria Augusto Capovilla, one of the still-active Venetian carpentries that worked closely with Scarpa.
The Cubanpavilion, located on the island of San Servolo and entitled A cautionary environment/Entorno aleccionador brings together installations, paintings, and interdisciplinary works on allegorical themes of the times in which we live. The invited artists, Alejandro Campins, Ariamna Contino, Alex Hernández and Eugenio Tibaldi, discuss the relationship between man and the environment.
The Biennale’s programme is accompanied by a series of collateral events. Catalonia
in Venice’s To Lose
Your Head (Idols) documents the complex life of statues, which some
artists today recreate and reflect upon. This multi-authored exhibition
explores the theory of art reception and documents the complex life of public
statues in our time. In a world of images, iconoclasm and iconodulia, it questions
the fetishism of images as living entities and encourages conversations as a
way to foster human happiness, awareness and freedom.
The latest works by the
contemporary Portuguese sculptor Joana
Vasconcelos (born 1971) are being displayed under the title What
are you hiding? May you find what you are looking for at the
Venice Biennale on the island of San Clemente across the Palazzo Kempinsky
gardens and in the church of San Clemente itself, supported by the film
production company MGM. In the church the exhibition shows her large-scale
floor sculpture Madragoa (2015–2019),
inspired by Lisbon’s buildings and façades, which explores the intersections of
sculpture, architecture and painting. This piece has new elements specially
created for it since it was first shown in Macau in 2015. In the gardens
Vasconcelos is displaying I’ll be Your
Mirror #1 (2019), a giant Venetian carnival mask made of mirrors, which the
sculptor recently showed at the Guggenheim, Bilbao in a solo show. Also on show
in the gardens is Betty Boop PA
(2019), a high-heeled shoe crafted out of saucepans, which proposes a revision
of the “feminine” in today’s world by bringing together two tropes of a woman’s
private and public image.
This is the most comprehensive exhibition dedicated to the work of Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral (1886–1973), a pioneering figure in early 20th century Latin American art and who is currently being reassessed in the context of global modernisms. After studying with Fernand Léger (1881–1955) and André Lhote (1885–1962) in Paris, Tarsila, as she is widely known in Brazil, cannibalized modern European references to create a unique style of her own, true to her origins both in form and content, through the use of caipira [Brazilian countryside] colours, found in architecture and decorative arts: “pure blue, violaceous rose, bright yellow, singing green,” in her own words; as well as representations of typical and local characters, scenes, and narratives. Much of her work was made in dialogue with two leading modernist intellectuals of her time: Mário de Andrade (1893–1945) and Oswald de Andrade (1890–1954). Tarsila’s work parallels the development of Oswald de Andrade’s antropofagia, a key concept in 20th-century Latin American thought. Antropofagia could be understood as a poetic program through which intellectuals in the tropics would ‘cannibalize’ European cultural references in order to produce something singular and hybrid of their own, bringing indigenous, Afro-Atlantic, and local elements into their work. The controversial painting A Negra [The Black Woman] has received special attention from the authors and is a central work in the exhibition. The exhibition aims at widening the perspectives from which we may access not only the artist’s work but also the larger narratives on global modernism, taking into account questions of race, class and colonialism.
Tarsila do Amaral: Cannibalizing Modernism is curated by Adriano Pedrosa and Fernando Oliva and is contextualized in a full year dedicated to women artists at MASP in 2019 under the heading Women’s Histories, Feminist Histories. The accompanying publication is the most comprehensive exhibition catalogue on Tarsila to date. With separate editions in Portuguese and in English, 360 pages each, it reproduces 113 of her works, as well as documents and photographs. The book features newly commissioned essays by Adriano Pedrosa, Amanda Carneiro, Fernando Oliva, Irene V. Small, Mari Rodríguez Binnie, Maria Bernardete Ramos Flores, Maria Castro, Michele Greet, Michele Bete Petry and Renata Bittencourt, historical texts by Paulo Herkenhoff and Sergio Miceli, and commentaries on Tarsila’s works by Artur Santoro, Carlos Eduardo Riccioppo, Guilherme Giufrida, and Matheus de Andrade.
Thea Haberfeld Landscape, 1943 Oil on canvas 35 x 52 cm Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery
‘‘The Art of Diplomacy: Brazilian Modernism Painted for War,’ on show at the at the Sala Brasil of London’s Brazilian Embassy until 22 June, recreates an exhibition of modern Brazilian painting held at the Royal Academy and seven regional galleries in 1944. The show was part of a concerted politic and cultural effort to cement Brazilian-British relations after the South American country’s entrance in the Allied coalition in 1942. Having successfully eluded German U-boats during the trans-Atlantic crossing and overcome the reservations of major museum directors, the paintings in the exhibitions introduced more than 100.000 visitors to the nuances of a country which was then largely unknown. Attended by such major intellectuals as T.S. Eliot and H.G. Wells, the show was a major success, resulting in several new acquisitions by British museums.
Click here to read an extensive review of this exhibition on Apollo, or visit the exhibition’s website.
Final venue of a tour around America for this exhibition, considered to be the first comprehensive retrospective in the USA of the Brazilian artist (1937-1980). Ranging from geometric paintings to immersive interactive environments and wearable works of art, the exhibition is also the first to explore in depth his New York years (1971-78) and his return to Rio (1978-80). It includes a restaging of his installation Eden, which was first revealed at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1969, and which included a pool of water, a sand-box in which visitors were encouraged to sit and a tent where the audience could listen to music and read magazines. Eden was an expression of Oiticica’s view that in order to encourage creativity one needed time to relax and think. The installation is reconstructed with help from the artist’s nephew César Oiticica Filho, the curator of the Project Hélio Oiticica in Brazil. A fully illustrated catalogue covering the artist’s entire career with essays by authors from the USA and Latin America accompanies the exhibition.
The first monographic exhibition in the United States devoted to Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (1927–2004). A critical figure in the development of Brazilian modern art, and a pioneer of the Neo-Concrete movement. Pape combined geometric abstraction with notions of body, time, and space in unique ways that radically transformed the nature of the art object in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Covering a prolific career that spanned five decades, this exhibition examines Pape’s rich oeuvre as manifest across varied media—from sculpture, prints, and painting to installation, photography, performance, and film.
Brings together models, drawings and archival photographs as well as new photography of key buildings, not only those by the Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer and Mexican Luis Barragán but also less well known structures by Cuban architects, such as Hugo d’Acosta.
The exhibition is accompanied by two major publications: a catalogue and an anthology of primary texts translated from Spanish and Portuguese.