It was a “I’ve been plucked from the chorus line” moment. Back in 2008, I went on a tastemaker’s tour of Brazil with a small group of curators from various American museums. It was at the invitation of the Brazilian government—they had been running these sorts of trips periodically (our guide told us he had recently hosted a group of Japanese architects). It was meant to expose us to some of their museums, galleries, foundations, and artists in hopes of future collaborations between the two countries. We were escorted on the tour by a government representative, a super nice man named Carlos. We started out in Rio de Janeiro, flew to Salvador, then ended up in São Paolo. It was an amazing trip and we saw great art.
Along the way, I was introduced to a bunch of artists with whom I was unfamiliar. Some of my favorites are: Daniel Senise, Lina Kim, Alejandro Chaskielberg, Marcius Galan, Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger, Marcello Grassmann, Oscar Niemeyer, Lygia Clark, Mira Schendel, Carlito Carvalhosa, Christian Cravo, Fayga Ostrower, Tarsila do Amaral, Nicola Costantino, Michael Wesley, Livio Abramo, Ernesto Neto, Lina Bo Bardi. When I returned to the BMA, I gave a presentation on all that we saw, which led to the only connection I was able to make. One of my colleagues, Karen Millbourne, fell in love with the work of Henrique Oliveira and included him in a show at her next museum of employment, the National Museum of African Art. He makes fantastical sculptures out of discarded plywood from urban construction sites (boards used in the fencing that blocks the view from the street) that take over spaces.
São Paolo is a gigantic city that spreads out over 587 square miles. When you fly in, you see nothing but city as far as the eye can see. It just goes on and on. When we visited Galerie Vermelho, one of our last stops, I fell in love with an artist’s book by Kátia Fiera. It’s unique (there is only one of them--it is composed of drawings), and small, horizontally shaped and is filled with translucent sheets. Delicate line drawings in black marker of power lines, television antennas, and kites fill the textless pages. That you can see through each page to the subsequent pages, and that the power lines just keep going, beautifully captures the endlessness of the city, as well as its problems with pollution. While I didn’t know anything about Fiera at the time, I couldn’t pass up a perfect memento of a fabulous trip.
Kátia Fiera (Brazilian, born 1976)
De Passegem, 2007
Henrique Oliveira (Brazilian, born 1973)
Galerie Vallois installation shot
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Ann's art blog
A small corner of the interwebs to share thoughts on objects I acquired for the Baltimore Museum of Art's collection, research I've done on Stanley William Hayter and Atelier 17, experiments in intaglio printmaking, and the Baltimore Contemporary Print Fair.