Tag Archives: Tunga

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.

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.