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Indepth Arts News:

"Experiment Experiencia: Eighteen Contemporary Brazilian Artists"
2001-07-28 until 2001-10-21
Museum of Modern Art, Oxford
Oxford, , UK

Experiment Experiencia captures the unique spirit of experimentation and dynamism of Brazilian Art since the late 1950s, presenting the work of three generations of artists.  As well as artists who have never exhibited in Britain before, the exhibition includes artists such as Tunga and Ernesto Neto, both of whom are featured at this year’s Venice Biennale.

Taking as its starting point the early experiments of the Brazilian avant-garde led by Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, and Lygia Pape, Experiment Experiência reveals how artists sought radical alternatives to the confines of the picture plane.  Rising out of an art of geometric abstraction, more expressive ways of working were explored, leading to an art that combined the sensuous use of materials with audience participation and interaction.  Sérgio Camargo and Mira Schendel, shown at the Signals Gallery in London in the 1960s, together with their contemporaries, reached a wide international audience and began to establish Brazilian art as amongst the most radical in the world.  

This was an art of lived experience, a meeting of mind and body, as seen in performances such as Lygia Pape’s ‘Divisor’ of 1968, which involved the participation of many communities in Rio de Janeiro, including children from the favelas.  In the 1960s and 1970s the work of artists such as Antonio Dias and Antonio Manuel became increasingly politicised, produced as it was against a background of profound social and political change.   Conversely, much art of the 1980s became more poetic and site specific, whilst retaining a sense of experimentation and a fascination with bodily movement, such as the expansive flowing steel and perspex structures of Iole de Freitas.

Experiment Experiência brings the work of these three generations of artists together for the first time in the UK, and will include: Waltercio Caldas, Sergio Camargo, Lygia Clark, José Damasceno, Iole de Freitas, Antonio Dias, Carmela Gross, Jac Leirner, Antonio Manuel, Ernesto Neto, Rivane Neuenschwander, Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Pape, Nuno Ramos, Rosângela Rennó, José Resende, Mira Schendel and Tunga.  

The exhibition will also offer visitors a unique opportunity to view films made by the artists, such as rarely seen works by Lygia Pape and Antonio Manuel, as well as documentaries and filmed performances.  

Experiment Experiência culminates in the explosive and paradoxical art of Brazil today: forms which take on organic, monumental and often surreal perspectives but whose sensibilities can nevertheless be traced back to the earliest exponents of the Brazilian avant-garde.

Although many contemporary Brazilian artists such as Antonio Dias, Waltercio Caldas, Tunga, Jac Leirner and Ernesto Neto have already achieved international acclaim, the exhibition also presents the work of important Brazilian artists such as José Resende, who although less well-known here, are celebrated as seminal figures of contemporary art in their own country.

Experiment Experiência: Art in Brazil 1958-2000 is part of a broad programme of UK events organised by BrasilConnects celebrating Brazilian art and culture in 2001.The exhibition is curated by Nelson Aguilar and Astrid Bowron.  A catalogue will be available to accompany the exhibition with an essay by Paulo Venancio Filho and an introduction by the curators.

José Damasceno
The Next Presage
(Experience on the Visibility of a Dynamic Substance), 1997,
Courtesy of Galeria Camargo Vilaça, São Paulo.
Photo: Romulo Fialdini.

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