Rusted steel and soil. The curator, a world which we only partially underTadayasu Sakai proposed as the basis of stand. By means of metaphors, both tering different flavors over them Of the Akiro Kamiyama sought an answer in an individual works presented on the same imaginary world where ludic elements — floor, mention must be made of those in particular toys — offer a possible solu- sent by Alejandro Montoya Mexico , tion.
Is There a Moon Tonight? Thirty six drawings ink on AII had the same subject: bodies in the morgue. The artist takes us into these terrifying places with their accumulation of bodies of nobody, without identification papers, the anonymous victims of urban violence. With energetic lines, which Katsura Funakoshi. Installation with four sculptures. Polychrome wood. Height of each piece: 72 in. The theme of death, a commonplace in Mexican art, appears in these works without any mythical, religious, exemplary or histrionic value: it is a hypnotic register, both intimate and totally depersonalized.
AII this seemed very distant from the Brazilian culture evident at the Biennial, a culture which considers death as a necessary accident, without any transcendental importance. The objects appearing along the circuit were figurative and had a heavy rhetorical content, accentuated by the title-texts of each piece. For example, a box placed like a relief against a wall had a small slit in it through which a head — just the eyes could be seen — along with the text: Solitude is the worst torment.
This tautology was apparent at other points in the work: the photograph of an old man with a huge patch covering one eye was part of a triptych entitled Remedies for eye ache. The popular aspect, the ironic use of religious images — Catholic or animist — the conceptual collages suggested by the forms joined together in impossible objects and an almost unlimited range of possible interpretations made the Labyrinth one of the most suggestive works of the show. The irregular formats, the beautiful coloring, the forms themselves at once suggested an association with the painting decoration of Nazca ceramics, although this in no way restricted the interpretation of the works.
The veteran Uruguayan. The metallic assemblages — the expressionist part — were only half contained by regular structures in unpainted wood. The suggestion of dialogue was irresistible. Of the two Argentinians, Kuitca brought nine works from his recent production: paintings with a heavy conceptual content and objects. In this case, ridiculously small beds with the mattresses worked like maps of regions of Eastern Europe. The closed, isolated spaces, the impossibility of communication the maps are of regions which could not, until very recently, be visited are ideas which the artist handles in an obsessive manner, using apparently neutral language: little color, gray tones, fragmentary transcription of texts, maps, a floor plan.
Kuitca, the youngest of the Latin American artists at the Biennial, is also one of the most talented. Canada was represented by Betty Goodwin Montreal, , who was trained in print-making. However, the curator France Morin chose for the Biennial some of her large format drawings, done in a wide variety of techniques oil, pastel, graphite, charcoal, gouache , two free standing and several wall sculptures. The language of this Canadian artist combines abstract elements with figurative lines, almost always of the human body.
The result retains the freshness of a sketch and the expressive nature of direct lines which appear to be corrected over and over again, in a profound and mysterious space. The three magnificent pieces by the Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman suffered from a lack of space. The earth planes, inclined against the horizontal base of the three sculptures, enriched their contents by providing a surprising poetic note. It was impossible, however, to overlook the fact that during the exhibition the metallic surfaces of the three pieces were savagely scratched with graffiti — a.
The Biennial authorities had the works restored very quickly, but the moral damage had been done. For obvious reasons, the works which represented Brazil were much more numerous than those of the other countries. The curator decided to present her selection in a framework of individual exhibitions, barely related the one with the other by their common geographical origin. There is not enough space available here to examine all these exhibits one by one; I shall thus confine myself to mentioning four, all of which were really outstanding — those of Sergio de Camargo, Carmela Gross, Katie van Scherpenberg and Marcos Coelho Benjamin.
His work impresses the spectator effortlessly, with the serenity. Perhaps this explains the great beauty of his work. She presented a poetic space created with enormous abstract blotches based on reiterative lines. The subtlety of the surroundings of the installation came from its conceptual character as well as the very refined working of nontraditional materials: a fine covering of plastic foam placed on the wall drawn in charcoal, two enormous sheets of banana craft paper stuck to the wall as a support for a silver background and.
The space had two visual axes. Let us suppose that east and west are the drawn walls, with north and south being those with sculptural elements. Using subtle tones of ocher, pink and gray, the artist contrasted her open, nebulous configurations with the solidity of the elements used on the north and south walls. The layers of mica formed a conical kind of object, screwed to the wall at its base. Opposite, the centripetal arrangement of the rod-lines encompassed an indeterminate space, which tended to slip away.
The installation required the spectator to adopt a kinetic vision and proposed a totalizing experience of space generated by the treatment of the four walls Fourteen paintings on wood, worked with thick pigments extracted from natural earths and added together with elements incrusted in the chromatic mass. Howin half-light, in a room ever, it was applied to the works of the painted ocher-pink. The sculptor Marcos Coelho Benjamin Minas paintings were isolated Gerais, , who also won one of the from their surroundings prizes reserved for the Brazilians.
The objects created by this way of seeing. They may, in fact, not geometric kind. Curiously, Carmela Gross. Vase Cone, Painted without there wood. Holland was represented by the conceptual sculptor Marinus Boezem , with eleven works. The surprising and poetic installations of this Dutch artist are made with objects such as drinking glasses, ventilators, coffee tables with their table cloths, plans of a gothic cathedral, photographs, wooden birds, lights and air.
The last element mentioned was made clear by the working ventilators, aerial photographs or the presence of the birds. Gabriel Barros, the Chilean curator, chose four artists interested in the language of the graphic arts and in matters dealing with ecology. Bernadita Vettier , the most interesting of the four, created a multi-media installation with polyester material, dyes, light and sound; a space which alluded to the deterioration of the quality of life in our large urban centers and in which the figure of the cow served as a metaphor for the stupidity and passivity of the urban masses.
The presence of the sculptor Martin Puryear restored the prestige which his country had lost with its poor showings at the last three Biennials. A native of Washington , Puryear has had vast training, which includes two years of voluntary teaching in Sierra Leone, another two as a student invited by the Royal Academy of Art of Stockholm, a good dozen scholarships and national prizes, including a post-graduate scholarship in sculpture at Yale Universtiy and another from the Guggenheim Foundation — which permitted him to study the architecture of traditional Japanese temples and gardens.
He has shown his work regularly since The selection of works which were presented at the XXth Biennial was organized by the curator Kellie Jones,. In the presentation text the curator emphasized some of the main aspects of his work: firstly, its very clear place in the field itself of sculpture, in the strict sense of the term. Puryear uses artisanal procedures and techniques commonly associated with the work of. The manual process of making the pieces is perfectly visible. There is an extraordinary harmony between the materials selected and the forms of the sculptures, as if the latter were the obvious result of some organic alchemy and not the product of intellectual work and the hands of the artist.
Curator: Gabriel Borcha. Abstraction, The Biennial Effect Curator: Casimiro Xavier de Mendoca. Brecheret and Brennand. Mixed media on magnesium and aluminum. Very few people have come to their defense, and even less have recognized the enormous effort which is required to devise, organize and mount a biennial.
Of the local critics and press, only one voice that of Aracy Amaral defended the event during a meeting of artistic personalities organized by the Latin American Memorial Foundation. All the others were critical, a situation which by any standards is both unjust and nonobjective. It is true that the presentation of this edition of the Biennial was almost a miracle and held in the worst circumstances imaginable:. Two weeks before the event opened, its feasibility was still being debated within the Municipal Council.
Even so, the show managed to open on schedule. All these obstacles were circumstantial. Others, which were more serious and really damaged the institution, arose as a result of the criteria governing the preparation of the regulations. A biennial cannot just sit back and wait for artists to participate.
If there are no clear concepts concerning the objectives being sought, then the curators will inevitably be faced with an avalanche of heterogeneous works which make it impossible to establish any unified and coherent reading. The task would be. On the other hand, it is obvious that the local jury which selected participants on the basis of slides would not be accepted by artists of international stature whether Brazilian or foreign.
This was the case with the Colombian, Argentinean and Chilean artists as well as the anthology of work by Alejandro Otero. Art criticism is an activity which is necessarily dependent on very specific factor of time and place. De-contextualized, it can result in gross errors. A selection jury exercises a critical activity.
A specific example was the inexplicable acceptance of the Venezuelan artist Mariana Bunimov — whose professional activity extends over. Such languages are of course valid, but clearly different: they include video art, design, and scenography. But if this is not the case, the so called parallel events will end up by smothering the original nucleus of the Biennial.
This was particularly the case in this last edition. Ballet and theater were more significant than the show in the pavilion in the Ibirapuera park. But the fact remains that the specificity of each language is still undeniable. In my view, the dispersion of efforts simply leads to an overall weakening, because the resources available are inadequate. Because the audience is much closer to illiteracy than polyglottism, and because the felicitous age of homo ludens pre- or post- historic does not matter, it is no longer a reality.
The Biennial ended on the 10th of December On that day the names of the prize-winners were published. The least that I can say is that the prize list, since there was one, seemed to be totally incomprehensible. Let us try, however, to discuss the matter.
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Horst Antes is a painter who has been known in German-speaking circles for at least twenty years. In his earlier work he used figurative and anthropomorphic themes; his figures with their heads. The works presented in the Biennial were closer to geometry, with a systematic use of a strange kind of blue very close to the blue of Klein and an obvious reference to certain objects of aboriginal cultures — such as that of Australia — objects which the artist has been collecting for a long time. One of the works consisted of a showcase with small cut-out humanoid figures embossed with a sheet of gold metal.
The works as a whole were quite. The other prizes were even more difficult to understand. With the obvious exceptions of Alejandro Otero and that of the theatre director Andrei Serban, who was represented by a set of photographic documents and the now famous Ancient Trilogy — originally mounted by the New York La Mama group in A further consecration of already consecrated artists?
Would it not have been better to reserve these distinctions for younger artists? It is even more difficult to speak of the Brazilians who were awarded prizes. A kind of notebook or journal, it is a weltered path in which only the most exceptional artists distinguish themselves. And Cerveny is not one of these.
Thus although it may well be debatable that prizes should be awarded at an event of this kind, such an unusual list of prizewinners as this one is more than disquieting. At least ten works, which were not even mentioned, could have been granted the prizes and mentions. The first was the installation by the North American artist Ann Hamilton. Born in Lima Ohio in , she has presented, or rather carried out her projects, for a little less than ten years. Her language is an attempt to establish a visual, tactile, sensory, and auditive atmosphere in which she. Ann Hamilton has always worked from personal and direct experience.
As a result of her experiences, her installation at the Biennial referred to death. This formed a sharp contrast with the stereotyped images of Brazil as a vital and virgin country, symbol of the future, etc. Her interpretation was much more lucid: under the guise of vitality, exuberance, and tropicalism, she saw the unequivocal signs of decadence and the transformation of matter, highlighting a phenomenon which the average Brazilian rarely sees: death.
The installation consisted of two chambers, one larger than the other, at the back. In the former, a huge fluted support, a kind of symbolic boat, with a cargo of wax tapers arranged horizontally and with the wicks pointing to the smaller chamber. The walls of the main chamber were veiled with vertical outlines, with the wax tapers serving as the central element. In the back room, a double horizontal showcase, which was sealed, contained the rotting corpses of two buzzards.
Such a description does not do full justice to the emotive and evocative power of the installation, which was extremely expressive and beautiful, despite its dramatic message. Before referring briefly to other interesting works presented at the Biennial, I would like to mention the overwhelming presence of installations, direct or veiled references to ecological concerns and the use of languages inspired by primitive motifs. This was the case with the Colombian artists, whose extreme seriousness and integrity, coupled with a sober montage on the third floor of the Biennial, meant that they passed unnoticed in the overall scandal and exhibitionism which marked the event.
The quality of the triptychs by Carlos Rojas was undeniable.
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I do not have the same respect for the set of work sent by Edgar Negret. Although his two Eclipses confirmed the best qualities of his work, the fabrics contained gratuitous elements, an unjustified transposition from three to two dimensions and a rather trite use of color. On the same floor as the Colombians, on the other side of the entrance ramp, there was an exhibition in homage to Alejandro Otero, who died recently.
This was a firstclass museological project, which enabled the visitor to follow the career of the artist, from his early landscapes to the final computer graphics. Another well-known name or pseudonym on the third floor was that of the German A. Penck , represented by five enormous canvases from the Michel Werner gallery in New York. Once an apologist for aggressive individualism in Eastern Germany, his painting is now looser and appears more playful than critical; his wire men have gained weight and the anguish of twenty years ago has lost some of its pain.
To return to the installations, I should like to mention the works. Water was the nucleus of at least five or six installations in addition to those which have been mentioned. In the main hall of the ramp, the Japanese artist Ichi Ikeda. Every three or four minutes, the mirror of water moved, thanks to an electrical-mechanical system hidden at the bottom, and seemed to boil, bubble and ripple gently.
The work of many of the Japanese artists was a high point, although the collective project entitled. I Art Nexus, No. With the impressive sum of nearly five million American dollars, the Bozzano Simonsen Bank had hoped to legitimize its presence among the participants of the World Conference on the Environment, Rio de Janeiro , as a financial institution on the international scene, as an art collector, and as a company concerned with its participation in society.
There was no overall curatorship for the project. Messer, Roberto Tejada, Carlos Silva, Rafael Squirru and Ricardo Pau-Llosa, to come up with twelve award-winners who did, in fact, present the best works in the exhibition. The mounting of the exhibition, devoid of critical criteria and with insufficient space for the number of works exhibited, made a tabula rasa of the works themselves, rendering them invisible.
The exhibition, in truth, was a little more than an effort to seek legitimization on the part of the Bozzano Simonsen Bank, by appropriating the names of artists and critics to market its image and promote its collection. Not that this is an illegitimate business, and it was all done in a financially professional manner. The problem lay in the erroneous decision to not include professionals in the organization and conception of the event, in not having clearly defined the cultural program of the sponsoring institution, in the absence of criteria for the selection of artists, and, above all, in aspiring to make a social contribution without considering the destitute reality in which it was itself inscribed.
It was a great deal, but it was not good business. It proposed that the artists should leave their own territories and experience another landscape in which they could carry out their work without allowing themselves to be seduced by it. It believed in the possibilities of art as a builder of models of thought and perception. The artists would, it was hoped, bring a subjective, artistic perspective to the problem of the tropical forest through their inquiries and research on the nature of that region.
During the first week, the artists settled into collective studios, visited the cities, the forest, museums, and research institutes, and made contact with specialists on the forest, with prospectors, natives, and local populations; during the second week they developed their projects and collected indigenous materials: wood, minerals, scrap metal and objects found in public places; during the third week they carried out and finished their works, frequently in collaboration with local artisans, caboclos who lived near the river, or shanty dwellers.
Accompanied by a catalogue rich in images, reflections and informative texts which registered the. On the other hand, many of the works either. There was a group of works, however, which, along with those already mentioned, gave interest and luster to the project. Inside, painted in a loud green, the viewer could see the dirt floor, garbage and small graffiti of scenes of sex and violence.
Very little biographical information is available on Mira SchendeI. She originally lived in Porto Alegre, where she began her artistic career as a self-taught artist. In contrast to such laconic details, the list of her individual and collective exhibitions, both in her country of adoption and abroad, is considerable. There are, in addition, the good dozen or so prizes which she has won, and the long bibliography on her work, mostly in the form of catalogues and critical articles. Even if we take account of all this material, Mira Schendel is still one of the least well-known figures of the most important generation in modern Brazilian art.
The definitive break made with earlier models at the end of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, and the opening up of Brazilian art to the most advanced post-war trends were much indebted to the generation of artists born around , and many of whom were nationalized foreigners in Brazil. The same generation also promoted Brazilian art abroad, mainly in Western Europe. Almost all the artists of this generation began their careers in figurative art.
Then, depending on their. As occurred in other countries of the Americas, there was first geometrical abstraction, followed by the various kinds of informalisms. Although the activity of Mira Schendel is to be set within this generation, a detailed study would seem to suggest that neither she nor her work can be comfortably placed within such a grouping.
Schendel was one of the most interesting voices of her time, and one of the most isolated. There were many reasons for this, in particular her personality and character. At the same time, the explicit characteristics of her work go well beyond abstraction. Few temperaments would appear to be less suited to such an informal society as that of Brazil. Very few persons established an intimate relationship with the artist; an exception was Paulo Figueiredo, who handled her work from Of her family almost nothing is known.
Why did her family move from Zurich to Milano at the end of the s? Who were the members of this family? In one of her rare interviews, Schendel recalls that she used to draw with genuine passion in the Milan tram which took her to and from schoool. Why did she settle in Brazil? She arrived at the. Many of these were artists and intellectuals. But apart from the fact that Schendel was not an artist, nothing is known about the reasons which led her to Brazil.
Did she come alone or with her family? How did she or they manage to survive in Porto Alegre? She once said that life was very difficult at that time, but that is all we know. Physically, she was not very attractive, short, with a short masculine hairstyle: her dress was very sober, at times also almost masculine. Although she had an easy smile, she seemed to hide behind her enormous glasses, her small inquisitive eyes almost contradicting her smile. She found it difficult to express herself in public. She spoke Portuguese, although she could never get rid of her heavy German accent.
This tiny aggressive woman was gifted with a rare intelligence. She was deeply interested in philosophy and religion —she was an expert on Oriental religions— and above all, she had one of the sharpest and most refined sensibilities of her time. Those who knew her said categorically that she was a self-taught artist. Life was very difficult; I had no money to buy good quality paints, I bought materials of any quality and began to paint with passion. Once again passion, the exercise of painting as a compulsive activity.
For someone who had survived the war in Europe, who had escaped death, these words of life and death could not be interpreted as mere literary expressions.
Perhaps because her artistic expression had this deep-seated motivation of vital activity, the content of her work —even for a relatively uninformed public— seemed to transcend its plastic form. And, this is one of the characteristics. Schendel began to show her work from , winning several prizes in , and 3. Although these works were done in ink and wash on paper, they have a strong sense of texture. They were signed M. Harges-Heimer family surname or the name of a first marriage? The artist would return to still-Iife work in , as one of the multiple facets in her production 5. This chronological approach is a useful instrument for discussing her work which defies any linear or sequential description.
Each period comprises between three to five years of intense production, like bursts Untitled, Ink and oil on Japanese paper. Thus, synchronic series appear, which are formally contradictory and, apparently, unrelated to one another. Each creative burst is followed by little or no production 6. The first period —from to — is the only one which can be analyzed in a traditional manner. There is a direction, an emphasis on composition which clearly predominates over other elements of the pictorial language. The texture is dense, the colors where they exist are somber and deadened.
Between and her work is unified: after, it was never again to be so. The same analysis highlights another aspect: Schendel might be self-taught, in the sense that she never received any formal artistic training; but, her early work shows that she was well conversant with the neo-figurative tendencies in fashion in the s. Giorgio Morandi was one of her favorite artists. We can assume that Schendel visited the First Biennial in which she was participating; perhaps she established contact there with some of the main artists, such as Max Bill —a Swiss Iike her, and who won the First Grand Prix.
She must also have met some of the major critics of the time, beginning with the director himself of the Museum of Modern Art, who was a member of the board of the Biennial. Intimately convinced of her vocation and despite the negative comments of several of her colleagues in Porto Alegre, Schendel probably decided to move to a more cosmopolitan and less conservative city that the capital of Rio Grande do Sul.
In a relatively short process, the figuration which initially characterized her work gave way to a geometrical kind of abstraction, although one which remained intensely concerned with the problems of texture. As if the two tendencies in abstract art were combined in subtle proportions, her forms. The small-format geometrical works refuse any recourse to precision instruments — there are no straight lines or 90 degree angles. A newspaper photograph, preserved in the archives of the Paulo Figueiredo gallery, illustrates the curious montage of the exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art: some of the pictures were hung on their sides, perpendicular to the wall.
It is less sure whether she went through that door and joined those circles. Between and Schendel did not produce any highly significant series and she presented no exhibitions. Between and Schendel produced her series entitled Embroidery, a title which exceptionally she herself chose. The compositions have the freer features of brush work. The actual characteristics of the support used, as well as its high degree of absorption and velvety character, seem to complement the gesture of the artist.
The earlier structures now appear like an ordered series of rounded blotches, mostly in black, gray and ochre, all more or less ferruginous. More than embroidered material, these works, for me, seem to suggest the geometrical motifs of indigenous handicrafts. During the same period, Schendel produced her series known as Textures. These are paintings in which the number of geometric elements used is considerably reduced. The forms occupy the most varied positions on uniform backgrounds, with a specific texture characteristic to each of them.
Frequently, the texture of the general surface comprising the support is thicker and more apparent than that. In the works in which a line —or several lines— are used, instead of forms, the latter feature is even more evident.
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These years coincided with the. Her work multiplied in se-. However, print-making was a predominant feature of her work during these years. The support could not take the fine, but energetic, thrust of the strokes. From one attempt to another, she finally created the same drawings through prints stamped with a matrix, worked with black oil on glass.
I do not recall any other monotypes in the history of contemporary Western print-making which have the same fine drawing characteristics of those of Mira Schendel. Three, four, five small lines structure an entire page. Or gestures which recall calligraphy, combined with a single form. Or just letters, words which do not become a text. The pregnant void of Zen philosophy, rather than the void of negation or absence in the Western sense. The characteristics of rice paper allow for the drawing to permeate the support completely. The monotypes can be viewed from both sides with the same clearness —there is neither front nor back and the support becomes almost transparent.
Almost three hundred of these works filled the three levels of the Signals Gallery in London in July According to a press report, there was not a soul in the gallery on the opening day. The works were then shown in Rio de Janeiro, where the rooms of the Mu-. They thus appeared suspended in space, rather than against the wall, and on a scale consonant with that of these exhibitions. From calligraphy, Mira moved on to the use of Letraset, as well as collage. She used letters in an unorthodox manner —as graphic signs— stripping them of their function and forcing the spectator to confront a somewhat unusual plastic situation.
She speculated on hundreds of formal possibilities with various types of alphabets, insisting on certain letters. The third period also comprises the series of the Bombas, the Droguihnas, the Toquinhos or Linear Drawings, and the Dactiloscritos. Broad strokes of black Chinese ink on damp paper are the essential features of the first of these series. In relation with the support, which is small format, the strokes become form; and, these forms emerge from the physical limits of the paper and move inward, highlighting once again the function of the void.
The imprecise edges of each form generate a kind of optical vibration. The paper is not perceived as surface but as a kind of space. The Droguinhas are objects made with twisted pieces of rice paper, stretched like pieces of string and woven in a haphazard form. They are objects that invite the spectator to touch and feel them; in this respect, Mira was one of the many artists of the late s who developed the idea of the public participating in the creative process. The Toquinhos are collages made with pieces of black Letraset and little squares or rectangles of Japanese paper soaked in strong colored Ecoline.
The support is white card measuring. The chromatic elements become color signs with a language which is both subtle and allusive. The Dactiloscritos, from , are drawings which combine printed characters and signs done with a typewriter and letters drawn along the horizontalvertical structure established by the typewriting.
Visually these false letters are a thousand and one variants of rigorously ordered reticular outlines. During the following five years , Mira Schendel worked in pizzicato on some of the elements which had already appeared in her earlier series. Paper soaked in color, calligraphy, prints based on the Dactiloscritos. The multiple experiments of these years did not result in any extensive series. The most well-known are the Japanese Papers , the Landscapes and the Triangles The sphere is more one of painting, although calligraphic elements and strokes remain. The Japanese Papers are done with supports and collages of forms which are basically geometrical, impregnated in Ecoline.
Despite the difference in tonalities, the texture serves to unify these surfaces on which very fine lines in gold and minute letters are drawn. The space, magnified by the enormous tension generated by the touches of gold on the color surfaces, suggests cosmic maps. The Landscapes are works in dark tempera on a dry cardboard-like paper. The idea of landscape is created by the zones which extend from one margin to the other of the support.
This is complemented by calligraphy which insistently traces the letter A. The manuscript sign seems to fill an enormous field, conferring sense and meaning. The surface of the support is contained by a margin finely drawn in gold pen, or marked like a cast. In the zone which is marked out, a triangle floats diagonally in relation to the support. It may be black or done with a matrix stamped without ink.
It comprises the extensive series of Temperas with. Geometry dominates these final series. Gesture, the use of calligraphic signs, textures, transparencies, all disappear. The Temperas, on canvas or wood, are planimetric paintings in which two or three fields of flat color extend over the surface, including the fine molding of the frame. A small triangle or a narrow band of gold anchors each composition. In the final works of the series there is a barely perceptible element of relief, like a virtual line cutting the support. The Japanese Papers in black and white consist of only 12 works.
On a collage of two unpainted, untreated Japanese papers, which generate almost invisible geometries, Schendel traced a thick, dry line, like a single obvious gesture. The gesture acquires the solidity of a bar; it is a clear antecedent of the three-dimensional works known as the Sarrafos. In these, the base is a panel of wood measuring 0. The wood is detached from the support, generating. Finally, with the series from , her work became firmly installed in real.
Before she died, she outlined another series which was never finished, work done with brick dust. Percurso de Mira Schendel, , unpublished. Mira selected her shows with great care and never presented various series at the same time. Ninety per cent of her work was untitled. Can refer to both an art making geographic charts and a science studying the charts ; to the field of sensibility as well as to that of methodical and structured knowledge.
After several years of work, countless trips, consultations, visits to workshops and artists, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Brazilian curator made a selection of works by fourteen artists from various Latin American countries 2. It wilI subsequently travel on to Ottawa and New York 3. The tremendous challenge posed by putting on an exhibition of current Latin American art without adopting the prejudices which European and North American historiography and criticism have es-. Kuitca being placed at the beginning. Despite his large number an unambiguous category and quality rounded, inter-related forms which of his works, Leonilson remained the which can be attributed to the artistic constituted mini-installations.
Apart most cryptic of the artists in the show. It would appear that a question, career, some twenty years ago. From the iron railing. The visual effect is one of rather than a certainty, was the starting upward moving line, Botero has moved collage; the conceptual effect is that point and guiding light of this entire on to the use of mass which is set on of a charade offered up to the public project.
Such a position is consonant the floor horizontal, without any inter- as a kind of challenge.
But it was mediary supports. The spectator views 8. His fellow countryman Nahum B. The fine tions devoted to the same subject and and the balance of its forms. The show included six works by drawings, some with marked erotic the very exercise here of the function of the curator —the selection of works Kuitca from his personal universe, in content, clearly allude to typical Mexiimplied an unequivocal act of power.
The next room presented works by spheres. Thus the show offered a wide maps. The Brazi- out a long process of self-analysis and reputation, whereas others are just lian artist, who recently died, belonged examination of her own, special feminibeginning to be known outside their to what in his country is known as ne nature. To this end, she has invented own environment. Each artist was the generation of the eighties.
An pop, and a parody of both styles, he synchretic cults and primitive liturgies. The careful framing gives these photographs a considerable degree of seduction; the forms unfold into deep, indeterminate spaces, with a subtle interplay of light and shadow generating intriguing images of great plastic beauty.
The catalogue texts invite us to view the work as a critical parody of reality, as a denouncement of the mechanisms of power. The artist uses real collages of cultural quotations from Rivera up to Jasper Johns, colonial painting of the Quito school or the recent campaigns against AIDS — in works which bear an affinity with pop art, the street art of graffiti and certain aspects of the new figuration.
Justo Pastor Mellado has classified it as demonstrative art, a metaphor which embraces economics, politics and religion. The reference to economy. AlI in all, the work was more amusing than profound. The next room was shared by Iole de Freitas and Alfred Wenemoser. The Brazilian sculptor works with solid —although not rigid— materials: for the most part wires, tapes and metallic fibers.
Her works are often reliefs, with some similarity to the tradition of randomness established at the end of the s by such artists as Ligya Clark or Helio Oiticica. The folds, bends, curves and wrinkles —which the artist leaves on her materials— are combined together in works of great sensibility, although they are nevertheless minor, at least in the current Brazilian art context. Caracus, the installation-construction by Wenemoser, takes us back to the sphere of strongly conceptualized art. Two metallic booths, partially covered with airpack, support a sort of false roof or platform, suggested by an alignment of angular metallic profiles.
One of the booths, open to the public, contained an aircraft seat, a ventilation system and an audio programme. The other booth was closed. One offered an invitation to travel, the other meant a prison. Each spectator, at the personal level, gave the installation a formal identity according to his or her own experience and associations. There was a mural work by the former, whose title in English —The little Revenge from the Periphery— was explicit. A large black, circular line materialized the periphery vis-a-vis the central area, occupied by an old print illustrated with each of the characteristic races of the five regions of the globe, according to the Anglo-Saxon criteria of the midnineteenth century.
The white man is in the center. He has been the target of many weapons: arrows, pea-shooters, lances and even a dagger. Four small jet planes placed on the black circle seem to leave toxic gasses in their wake. To the bottom right, the inscription of the title, in excellent English Palmer script. Here the cultural forces. The most varied kinds of supports are used in opposition: stone and tulle, ceramic and massed clay.
The materials are arranged to create evanescent forms, the sketch of some conceptual reflection on form and content. Cartographies was accompanied by a handsome three-language catalogue which in addition to the texts already mentioned and the customary biographical and bibliographical texts, contained an essay by the Chilean Justo Pastor Mellado —which discusses the position of the curator of Latin American art, and a comprehensive glossary in English only of Latin American art sources, elaborated by the Brazilian Paulo Henkenhof.
This contribution seemed to be very questionable in the context of the panorama opened up by the exhibition itself. Semantics, to be valid, cannot be personal. In the words of its curator, Cartographies promoted the emergence of artists who thanks to their own and irreducible proposals have themselves become markers and sign-makers. These alter and renew the territory already marked out by contemporary academicism.
NOTES 1. Exhibition catalogue, p. See list in note 2. Fertility, Coherence, Silence, After a major administrative overhaul, this Biennial was based on the general idea of the breaking of traditional supports, with the multifaceted appearance of contemporary art being proposed as a common denominator.
The show exhibit was made up of three sections: a museological space, special show rooms illustrating the central idea of the curator and his team, and the works sent by the participating countries. T his twenty-second edition of our Biennial is opening not two but three years after the twenty-first edition. This is not due to an oversight: it is a special tribute to the Venice Biennial, our most famous predecessor, which in will celebrate its hundredth anniversary Af t e r a major ad m in is trative overhaul, this Biennial was based on the general idea of the breaking of traditional supports, with the multifaceted appearance of contemporary art being proposed as a common denominator.
The show exhibit was made up of three sections: a museological space, special show rooms illustrating the central idea of the curator and his team, and. In specially air-conditioned rooms —on the third floor of the building— the Biennial offered some memorable lessons on the history of art of the twentieth century. But Tal Coat or Joan Mitchell are of secondary importance. Why were they included? The work of the Russian artist was presented for the first time in Latin America, with the cooperation of the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam and the San Petersburg Museum.
Petersburg then Leningrad and Moscow. Painting, wood constructions, drawing and prints, as well as a comprehensive bibliographical documentation —catalogues, sketches, letters, photographs and manuscripts— offered visitors a clear and well-founded panorama of the importance and achievements of the Uruguayan artist. A luxury catalogue accompanied the show at the Biennial. The exhibits by Tamayo and Fontana were less ambitious, comprising some fifteen works by each artist —an acceptable basis for presenting or reminiscing about these two great figures— who often participated in the Biennial.
The works by the Mexican were on loan from the Museum which bears his name and from private collectors; they included the splendid Portrait of Olga , a Conjugal Portrait and the Picasso Nude Among the Fontana works a reconstruction of the Spatial Neon Environment stands out, a gigantic arabesque in white neon tube, hanging from the ceiling over a large ramp. Unfortunately, the Fontana Foundation, which was responsible for the exhibition, did not provide any theoretical material to accompany the works, such as the Spatialist manifestos, for example.
The exhibition on Diego Rivera, curated by Juan Coronel Rivera, included very uneven works —both in quality and interest— mainly from two private collections: that of the curator himself and another owned by Rafael Coronel Arroyo. The project seemed directed to specialists in the work of the Mexican artist, rather than to the vast public at the Biennial. In conclusion, Rivera was not well represented and the show room did not provide the pedagogical dimension characteristic of other exhibitions in this area.
In the space reserved for Mondrian, the last studio occupied by the artist for Joan Brossa. Tales, Single object. Collection C. Other nature were eliminated in the forms, artists included Soto and Bedia, Chamlines and colours. Curves and diago- berlain, Schnable and Rauschenberg, nals were taboo Jason Holtzman, the son Cast iron, fiber. Brushes, spatulas, palettes, the scanty furniture made up of fruit boxes painted white, square and rectangular pieces of colored cardboard, pasted to the walls, and the empty easel on which Mondrian worked his Boogie-Woogies.
The Mondrian installation gave a romantic note to this edition of the Biennial. Special Show Rooms Some twenty special show rooms were included in the tightly worked network of the. As is often the case with museum galleries, the special show rooms vary in tonality and presence, some exhibits being uneven, others splendid and some insignificant. The three historical Brazilian artists reflected the basic premise of the overall curatorial objective: each, in his or her own way, illustrated the breaking of the traditional support, the going beyond the limits, the expansion of horizons which art has over the last three or four decades been keenly seeking.
Of the three shows, that of Lygia Clark was the most comprehensive. Thanks to the presence of a good team of monitors and guides, these works came alive again with the enthusiastic participation of the public. According to the general curator of the Biennial, Professor Nelson Aguilar, the purpose of these three exhibitions was to provide a compass to guide the public in the course of contemporary art and the breaking of the traditional support. There was a penetrable by Soto, constructed of thick nylon thread, placed near the entrance. Unfortunately, it was outweighed by the paneling of a nearby installation 3 and the counters of the cloakroom and catalogue stands.
Its curator, Freddy Carrero, ought to have placed it outside the building, where the work would have recovered its ludic dimension and would not have seemed so much like a barrier. The mere mention of this artist suggests his work in landscape, his passages and crossings. Why was he confined to the inside of the Niemeyer building, when surrounded by the Ibirapuera park?
The meanderings of white plastic paint which filled the floor of the ramp hall frankly lacked expression, despite the excellent individual catalogue accompanying the installation. Seven large pieces by John Chamberlain the catalogue included eight , four mega-pictures by Schnabel and more than a dozen works by Rauschemberg dated between and , also had special show rooms. The three North American artists were of course important landmarks and clearly illustrated such ideas as the breaking of the support and the theoretical and pragmatic limits of artistic activity.
Their presence in the Biennial was justified by their historical contribution to the central thesis of this edition. A private selection made by the curatorship among many. Of the special show rooms, the most surprising were those showing work by the artists invited from China and Hong Kong, curated by Chang TsongZung. All of them, three from each country, presented painting influenced by pop art. This might at first appear to contradict the theoretical axis of the Biennial, as well as our traditional Western image of the Chinese world.
It was an unusual mixture of ironic socialist realism, kitsch populism and attraction towards a consumer world bordering on pornography. This was in violent contrast with another Chinese artist, also invited to the Biennial, Deng Lin. Trained in the age-old tradition of ink drawing, she presented the transformation onto silk tapestry of some works from the Distant Echoes series. The result was an amalgam of her vast calligraphic experience, her knowledge of the history of painted ceramics and a method reminiscent of the Rorschach test, the work of free association based on symmetry generated by the folding of paper on an ink stain.
It may be that the tapestry technique limits the fluidity of the calligraphic gesture; even so, these almost monochrome tapestries were extremely elegant. A thin cord formed the semantic and visual link. Perfectly explicit, the installation would easily have filled the allotted space. But three or even four canvases also occupied the side walls. Of the four special video presentations, the most interesting were those of the Italian Fabrizio Plessi —screens placed horizontally around an installation with Roman fountains in the background— and the White Devil, an interactive installation with computer and laser video, by the North American Paul Garrin.
International Participation The 22 nd edition maintained the antiquated system of inviting foreign countries through their diploma tic representations. Although this is unobjectable in the case of nations whose official institutions have expert advise —such as the British Council— such a system prevents many valid artists from participating unless they are endorsed by the official entities. The general curator should be able to participate in the organization of the show as a whole, and not just of the so-called special show rooms.
The general catalogue —three heavy and expensive volumes of more than pages— contained an alphabetical list of the countries represented —seventy-one, including the host country. However, the montage did not always group together artists from the same place. The question of what space should be given to this or that representation is always, in such mega-exhibitions as the Biennial, a matter of controversy. In the end, all these problems could be solved if real channels of communication were established sufficiently in advance between the Biennial and the authorities responsible for the national exhibits.
Whereas the Chilean delegation — which its curator Gabriel Barros. Mention should be made of some exhibits, in the same alphabetical order used in the catalogue except for Brazil, which I shall discuss later. A circus cage, empty and open, along with a long row of black leather jackets, to be taken for animals, perhaps elephants or rhinoceroses, reduced in size. The video also worked with contrasts: a ventriloquist, his dummy and an inner voice, suggesting the title Die innere Stimme.
The Argentinean curator Jorge Helft chose the historical figure of Libero Badii —polychrome wood sculptures from the s— and nine works by Eduardo A. Vigo La Plata, Many other works evoked shameful events in recent Argentinean history, although none was devoid of humor. Antiques 5. Musical Instruments 2. Sporting Goods 5.
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