Tag Archives: Inhotim

Redrawing Brazil

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.

Fontes (1992)

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.

Navedenga (1998)

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.

Ruína de charque (2000)

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.

Laminated Souls (2004-2007)

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.

Continent/Cloud (2007)

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.

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Elementary magnetism

Naïve are those who think their lives are not inextricably connected to the place they come from. Whether you love it, hate it or simply feel a part of it, the region where you grow up will always influence you, even when you don’t expect it to.

It wasn’t without wonder that I discovered how much I need mountains to feel at home in a city. Flat lands can be fun, fabulous or even fantastic, but they’ll always feel foreign to me.

In a place where mountains mean mines, I also feel a strange connection to everything metal, especially iron. It is quite weird, but I do tend to like art that manifests itself through the means of metal.

When I first saw Lézart, a sculpture piece by Brazilian contemporary artist Tunga, I immediately felt connected to it:

Lézart, 1989

Using magnets, iron and copper, this piece creates a wonderful illusion of gigantic combs with metal hair hanging from them. It is like the crude value of the material can only be refined into beauty by the hands and hair of humans.

The tittle, Lézart (‘lizard’ in French) makes me think of how nature can still crawl onto us, reminding us of where we came from and the fact that there is no escape from that. It is as if we our origins are sticky or magnetic.

As for my interpretations, they are a clear proof that places of emotion can affect one’s judgement. I almost feel a poem coming.

Well, false alarm.

Technology and the arts

Many are those who believe technology will some day replace traditional art tools such as brushes, chisels and even the canvas. These people often feel threatened by what the new forms of producing art may bring.

I personally do not share that idea. I have great respect for artists who use technology to expand their artistic concepts, enlarging the scope of their work. This is why I decided to write a series of posts on the subject.

I went to Inhotim again last weekend to check out the new pavilions and art works on display at the museum. One that really caught my attention was the piece done by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff and her partner George Miller.

The murder of Crows is an installation built in a way that the viewer can actually feel the space so that s/he experiences the voices and sounds of the piece in an expanded fashion.

The Murder of Crows

According to them,

(…) ‘The Murder of Crows’, continues Cardiff Miller’s explorations in creating sculptural and physical sound. Ninety-eight audio speakers are mounted around the space on stands, chairs and the wall creating a minimalist flocking of speakers. The structure of the piece tries to mirror that of the illogical but connected juxtapositions that we experience in the dream world. One soundscape moves into another with an electronic dreamscape composition shifting into sound effects such as factory noises, crashing waves or birds wings and then into a guitar and strings composition then into a choir sequence and marching band.

Without technology, these effects would not be possible. Integrating different senses in the appreciation of one piece is quite hard to think without the use of modern tools. They create a more thorough feel to the work which definitely adds something exciting to the world of the arts.

Adding is the word, not subtracting.

From the viewer

Contemporary art requires thinking.

Contemporary art requires knowledge about art history.

Contemporary art requires sensitivity.

Contemporary art requires questioning.

Contemporary art requires patience.

Contemporary art requires careful appreciation.

Sound Pavillion, by Doug Aitken

Interacting with a piece of work with a conceptual magnitude  like that of Doug Aitken (shown at Inhotim, close to Belo Horizonte) is only possible when one really believes or is willing to agree with these assumptions.

Very briefly, the installation offers a unique chance to combine all senses in reflecting upon the purpose of the work. The smallness of the human race if compared to the force of the planet is just something that occurred to me when I saw it. Needless to say (but I’ll do it anyway), I respect art and artists.

Consideration is my word du jour.

Angst in the arts

Some things in life seem so obvious and are so common that we sometimes are forced to believe they are true. Until the day we are faced with a different reality.

When talking about the inspiration for art, be it painting, film or music, many are the ones who believe that its major source is angst. Although I too agree that angst is definitely a factor that helps bring up ideas for art, it is not the only possibility, as I have discussed before.

There are so many pieces of work around the globe which depict sadness, darkness, broken hearts and the rest. So much so that we are led to believe that darker moods dominate the art world. It does not have to be so. There has got to be a manifesto against one single view on arts – one that is mostly negative and angst-filled. There must be other points of view on art production, there shouldn’t be only one dominating the whole scene.

"Através", by Cildo Meireles

The art of leaving things behind in Através, by Cildo Meireles

Take the work of Beatriz Milhazes, Cildo Meireles‘ or that of Adriana Varejão. These two multitalented artists of Brazilian roots master their art of choice and yet transmit a happier take on life and all types of perception.

An inspiration for those who wish to challenge these dominant views is the contemporary art museum called Inhotim, virtually a paradise for art and life lovers amidst a heavenly botanical garden of delights.

Let us be happier in the world of the arts. Really.