While—contrary to my expectations—I did not get to see any of Lygia Clark's pieces in Rio, I've noticed a strong connection between art and psychotherapy in contemporary art that she had helped to champion. I wonder whether, in fact, this connection is due to the influence of her work or if there is a uniquely Brazilian emphasis on exploring and expressing intangible spiritual dimensions. (While I did not have a chance to see her work here, on the other hand, the recent MoMA exhibit of Lygia Clark's work has an excellent online resource of videos and catalogued artworks.) Clark's later work emphasized sensory perception that is taken out of the exclusive realm of the visual and focused on the psychologically charged interaction between artwork and participant. She has referred to her interactive pieces as ones to create a "ritual without myth."
While Clark has eluded me the whole time (her work is too fragile to be on permanent view and, as I've heard, has also been a subject of disputes between her estate and collections,) I got to learn more details about Helio Oiticica's oeuvre. During his short life Oiticica produced works both experimental and wide-ranging so that his brands of artworks (e.g. Tropicalias, Penetrables, and Parangoles) created a permanent touchtone for contemporary Brazilian art theory, which in turn spurred on a younger generation of artists. His artistic persona and his work has been successfully mythologized under the stewardship of his brothers and the artworld. In the fall of 2015, a documentary made by brother Cesar, on the life of Helio Oitica will be released in New York.
|Helio Oiticica: Parangole|
|Eduardo Kac in a gallery talk at Laura Marsiaj Gallery.|
If there was one artist I really had wanted to meet in Rio, that would have to be Ernesto Neto, whose room size installation at the Henry Art Gallery, entitled the Flying Gloup Nave, was a formative experience during my gradschool years. His work had opened up an entire world of possibilities about sculpture that is both object-like/bodily and spatial/architectural; both sensual as well as completely trivial (I should have used the words accessible or domestic here). I liked the fact that his work was made on a scale of a building but with materials and processes that are assigned to the feminine: thousands of little stitches, threads and connections, elastic surfaces that could be pulled, stretched and expanded.
In early May, the wonderful Casa Daros held a "bate-papo" (chat) with Neto, which gave me the first chance to meet him. After sitting through two hours of meandering stories in his animated Portuguese that ranged from his becoming an artist (through astronomy) to his ideas about education (movement and dance instead of book-learning); from Brancusi's Kiss to criticizing FIFA—in much of this I only understood what the story was about but not the actual details of how it went—I had a chance to introduce myself and have a brief chat. I learned that his 2006 exhibition in the 'le Panthéon', Paris was made in the space that is my studio in Largo das Artes.
|A fan-picture with Ernesto after his lecture.|
|Embraced by a Neto sculpture in Casa Daros.|
|The entry to the second floor is shaped like the characteristic orifices.|
|Ground floor was turned into a dye studio just a few weeks before, in order to complete a project.|
|We were lucky enough to have a chance to try out the large hammock-like piece before it was crated and shipped to Austria for a show.|
|The hammock is going into the crate.|
Finally, in the "new generation of Brazilian artist" it's worth mentioning more about the one everyone talks about–also a Carioca—Laura Lima. I did not get to meet her but saw her much discussed piece in the group show "Encruzilhada" (Crossroads) at Parque Lage. The piece is a naked man—tethered to ropes and cords that are anchored to the trees outside and run through the open windows—who, like Sisyphus, painfully struggles about with the dead weight. Lima's performances are a little too didactic too my taste and while they never feature the artist herself, too reminiscent of early performances by Marina Abramovic. But there is one that has just came to my attention this week, as it is about to open in the National Gallery of Denmark. The work, entitled The Naked Magician, is an installation with a performer. It is theatrical and laden with metaphors. I see lots of common threads between her brand and the way I tend to work. Even her slightly didactic but disjoint and layered narratives resonate with me. Lima has a degree in philosophy.
|Laura Lima: The Naked Magician|
|Laura Lima with her two "disinterested observer" performers in the hammock.|