Espaço Aberto / Espaço Fechado: Sites for sculpture in modern Brazil

5th February 2006 - 14th April 2006
Galleries 1, 2 and 3

Rogerio Canella, 'Bienal #2' 2004

Courtesy of Galeria Vermelho and the artist

Brazil has exercised a strong fascination as a site of modernity over the last half-century. This exhibition returns to the first São Paulo Bienal of 1951, and proceeds to the present day. The staggering fluctuations in political, social and economic stability in Brazil over the past fifty years have had visible consequences for sculpture. This exhibition reveals how events have helped shape ideas about sculpture as well as how sculpture represents those events.

It opens with the two award-winning sculptures from the first Bienal, which marked the beginnings of a period of optimism in Brazil, reflected in the growing interest in Modernism. International attention was drawn especially to Niemeyer’s architectural projects which seemed to embody the new confidence of the country. His influence is represented in this show with works by a current generation of artists who offer their responses to his utopian vision. The exhibition title means ‘open space/closed space’ and is taken from a photograph by Rubens Mano of the Niemeyer pavilion used for the Bienal since 1957. Unusually, Mano shows the pavilion empty and, as such, invokes the limitless potential of the unfilled site.

After the coup of 1964, which led to 21 years of military dictatorship and to strict censorship of all art forms, artists had to find new strategies in making their work. Sculptors took advantage of the fact that sculpture, by its very nature, could readily be sited beyond the confines of the official museum or gallery. Often at great personal risk, they arranged illegal ‘happenings’ and interventions in alternative venues and on the street and much of the material on show will reflect the unofficial and temporary nature of this work. Sculptors working today retain this dynamism, supported by re-invigorated commercial galleries and buoyed by a return to democracy and prosperity.

The accompanying catalogue will contain essays by Michael Asbury, Cacilda Teixeira da Costa and Felipe Chaimovich, an introduction by curator Stephen Feeke and statements by many of the artists involved. There will also be a workshop and a series of talks.

Artists featured include Artur Barrio, Max Bill, Victor Brecheret, Rogério Canella, Paulo Climachauska, Waldemar Cordeiro, Detanico Lain, Antonio Dias, Jac Leirner, Grupo Gallery Rex & Sons, Grupo 3NÓS3, Antonio Manuel, Cildo Meireles, Ducha, Luisa Lambri, Jarbas Lopes, Rubens Mano, Iran do Espirito Santo, Eduardo Srur and Franz Weissmann.