Some say that the true great artist is the one who can capture the essence of his/her time. I tend to agree with that idea.
Translating the Zeitgeist is not an easy task nor is it obvious for the most part, so what guided me in choosing my list of most representative contemporary artists from Brazil was my sheer feeling. Without further ado, here’s my Top 5:
1. Cildo Meireles. His choice and use of materials, creating layers, barriers and magically simple visual goals make him not only a very talented but also an expert in translating our current needs for empty novelty.
2. Ernesto Neto. His glue-y, at first somewhat disgusting shapes and art pieces challenge our notions of aesthetics. Art can be bent and it can feel nice and comfortable after you get past the first shock. Ernesto is as clever as his is subtle.
3. Adriana Varejão. This outstanding painter and sculptor does something quite revolutionary for Brazilian standards: look into our own art history. Culturally dominant and salient Portuguese tiles are turned into enormous open wounds that help communicate how violent and forced the colonization was. Yet if one knows how to use it, the past can be used to enrich perspectives for the future.
4. Tunga. A virtuoso in the choice and treatment of hard materials, Tunga has always been able to create extreme and delicate beauty out of seemingly sterile matter. His work can be seen as an exploration of the interconnections between elements, shapes and ideas, always gracefully exposed in their contrast.
5. Rivane Neuenschwander. trespassing the boundaries of the individual arts, Rivane uses simple and mostly tiny materials to construct a wider view of the abstract world we live in. Wishes, dreams, home, journeys, discoveries and interaction are always part of the artist’s work.
Luckily for all of us, there is a place where you can see pieces from all of these artists, the one and only (and the very best of its kind in my opinion) Inhotim Museum of Contemporary Art.