Unmissable exhibitions celebrating Brazilian art on the occasion of the country’s bicentenary

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Brazilian stories
Until October 30 at the Art Museum of São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand

The Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand’s annual flagship exhibition focuses on Brazilian artistic production over the past 200 years, with nearly 400 works organized into thematic groups exploring the social and political facets of Brazilian life. But the exhibit sparked controversy earlier this year when the museum was accused of censoring several photographs depicting a Marxist social movement known as the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Movement of Landless Workers, or MST) – a land reform group advocating for marginalized rural communities. Curators Sandra Benites and Clarissa Diniz withdrew from the project following the accusations, claiming that photographs by artists João Zinclar, André Vilaron and Edgar Kanaykõ had been unfairly removed. The museum, which later reinstated the works and issued several statements regarding the matter, denied the allegations, stating that the photographs were submitted after a delay.

union (union) (From the Serie Political Encounters / Political meetings) (2022). MAM São Paulo/Estúdio Em Obra.

The 37th Panorama da Arte Brasileira (Panorama of Brazilian Art)
Until January 15, 2023 at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo

After a two-year hiatus, the biennial exhibition Panorama da Arte Brasileira, organized by the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo since 1969, returns with the main theme Sob like cinzas, brasa (Under the ashes, the embers). The curatorial team, which includes Brazilian curators Claudinei Roberto da Silva, Cristiana Tejo, Cauê Alves and American curator Vanessa Davidson, has assembled a multigenerational list of 26 Brazilian artists and collectives presenting works that reflect rebirth and resilience. The overall theme of “the phoenix rising from the ashes” aims to “harness the current moment in Brazil not only in terms of artistic production but also in terms of socio-political events and the rebirth of the country after the pandemic”, says Davidson. The arts journal. The exhibition features eight new commissions, including a series of paintings by São Paulo-based artist No Martins from the series Political meetings (Political meetings) (2022) that populate a main hallway in the museum and show Afro-Brazilians engaging in “postcard-like” activities that would generally depict white Brazilians; one shows a man wearing a shirt with the numbers 1888, the year slavery was abolished in the country. The exhibition also uses the museum’s outdoor space for the first time, including several outdoor sculptures.

Installation view of Calder + Miro at the Instituto Casa Roberto Marinho. Photo: Jaime Acioli.

Calder + Miro
Until November 20 at Casa Roberto Marinho, Rio de Janeiro

The significant influence that the work of Joan Miró and Alexander Calder had on Brazilian art as abstraction was popularized there from the 1950s is explored in this extensive exhibition of approximately 160 works by artists juxtaposed with pieces by Brazilians like Hélio Oiticica and Abraham. Palatnik. Brazilian art critic Mário Pedrosa was one of the first to publicize the artists’ work in Brazil, placing them in editions of the São Paulo Biennial starting in 1951. Among the highlights, the exhibition includes drawings of an unrealized project that Calder designed with architect Oscar Niemeyer, a 15-meter mobile that was to be installed in Praça dos Três Poderes in Brasilia. All works in the exhibition come from Brazilian public and private collections, including the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand and the temporarily closed Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro.

Candide Portinari, Landscapem of Brodowski (1940). Gilberto Chateaubriand Collection, MAM Rio. Courtesy of MAM Rio.

Nakoada: strategies for modern art
Until November 27 at the Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro

Part of several exhibitions celebrating the centenary of the seminal art festival Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art), this exhibition juxtaposes modernist works from the museum’s extensive collection, including various from the collection of the late Gilberto Chateaubriand, with ceramics from the temporarily-closed Museu do Índio and contemporary artworks by indigenous artists like Jaider Esbell. The unique association aims to explore the cultural syncretism of the country and the influence of indigenous and African traditions on the pioneers of Brazilian modernism like Tarsila do Amaral and Candido Portinari. The show’s title refers to a Baniwa term that suggests a “returning gesture”, or “the moment when people who have been the target of external actions understand the oppressive power of the other and seek possibilities for back to their own autonomy,” says artist Denilson Baniwa, who organized the exhibition with curator Beatriz Lemos.

Barbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca, Estás vendo coisas / You see things (2016) (still). © Barbara Wagner & Benjamin de Burca. Courtesy of Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro.

Barbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca: Five Times Brazil
Until October 16 at the New Museum, New York

The politics of gesture permeates the five elegantly shot films in this exhibition by Brazilian artists Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca. Whether it’s an evangelical singer filling the hills of the Zona da Mata with echoes of her moving voice or dancers swaying happily to the rhythm of frevo the music, the bodily acts capture the rituals and ideologies of the communities of the subjects. The works follow people from all walks of life who engage with the audience through different forms of performance. works like Fala de Terra (2022) recount the brutal consequences of working-class protests against aggressive extractionism, mining and deforestation on their lands, while swinguerra (2019) – a work created for the Brazilian pavilion at the Venice Biennale that year – alludes to the militant energy and ardor of predominantly queer dancers, as well as the fragility of power dynamics in the dance competitions organized in the city of Recife. “We work with people whose bodies are strongly connected to a ritual experience and to the community – through music or dance, their experience is associated [with] embody joy as a form of resistance,” says Wagner.

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled (2022). © Marina Perez Simão. Courtesy Pace Gallery and Mendes Wood DM. Photo: Everton Balardin.

Marina Perez Simão: Onda
Until October 1 at the Pace Gallery, London

Brazilian artist Marina Perez Simão brings much-needed vitality to London’s September skies in her first solo exhibition in the UK, where she presents a series of 18 expressionist landscapes. Titled after the Portuguese word for “wave”, the works form a disparate exploration of water, earth and light. With a deft mastery of line and color, Simão highlights the vast unknowability of the landscape she paints. Just when a viewer might believe they have spotted the beginning and end of a mountain or the traceable pattern of a body of water, the work can collapse into staggered viewpoints without warning. In an untitled diptych and quadriptych (both from 2022), the viewer is confronted with unstable perspectives: are we looking at the landscape in its entirety or are we looking through panels barely camouflaging a seascape? The work has an experimental joy that deviates from some of Simão’s earlier creations, where the composition is often simpler and the skylines are no laughing matter. According to Simone Shields, the gallery’s associate director, who curated this exhibition alongside the artist and Pace’s vice-president, Samanthe Rubell, Simão considers this exhibition to be “one of the most abstract to date”. , where she “does not just think about her immediate surroundings or the places where she has lived and worked but about other worlds, other universes”.

Livia Melzi, Scene VI (2021). Courtesy of the artist and the Ricardo Fernandes Gallery (Saint-Ouen).

Lívia Melzi: Tupi or not Tupi
October 19-November 27 at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris

For her next exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, the Brazilian artist Lívia Melzi has photographed Tupinambá coats kept in European museums. Cloaks are made from thousands of feathers tightly tied together and were once used for rituals by the native warrior tribes that lived along the Brazilian coast until the arrival of Europeans in the 15th and 16th centuries. Fewer than a dozen coats exist today and all are held in European collections, having been imported in the 17th century. Melzi’s work explores how our understanding of these artifacts and the people who made them is shaped by how museums present and contextualize capes. Melzi is often interested in the role of archives and museums and how they construct histories, particularly in relation to colonialism. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from Cannibal manifesto (1928) by the Brazilian modernist poet Oswald de Andrade, whose poetic text proposes that the appropriation – or “cannibalization” – of different cultures by Brazilian artists and writers is a particular strength of the country. His line, “Tupi or not Tupi, that is the question”, draws attention to the Tupinambá, who were thought to eat human flesh, but also figuratively cannibalizes one of the most famous lines of Shakespeare. Melzi’s photographs of European museum exhibitions are a similar reappropriation of those who appropriate.

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