Friday, January 21, 2011

Socialist Art - part 2

This much-waited entry is a continuation of the previous one with similar title. These locations were visited in different days, and the order below does not follow the chronological visits, though the last one presented here is where my visit ended. If interested in more specific information, such as the names of artists and curators, please Google the name of the institutions and/or exhibition.

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (a bank)
Located in the heart of the old downtown São Paulo (centro antigo), in a completely restored 1901 building, CCBB maintains an ambitious roster of exhibitions and related programming that is open and free for all. While similar institutions might dumb it down for the masses (as many do with populists and/or easy to digest art), CCBB unapologetically showed the works for Laurie Anderson in I in U/Eu em Tu across its five stories. Works displayed in its many mezzanines were photographable, while works in the closed galleries (most notably in the old vault in the basement, as well as the side galleries above) did not allow for such. As much as possible I gathered illegal content, which I here share with you (do not tell anyone, it is all for the goodness of human-kind). But some of the best works, such as the performative and kinetic sculptures, will have to remain in the imaginarium.

Centro Cultural FIESP
I was not allowed to photograph here, but they had this incredible exhibition, titled A Construção de Brasilia, on the architecture and construction of Brasilia through the eyes of photographers. At this location the annual FILE (Festival Internacional da Linguagem Eletronica) takes place. 

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo
The Pinacoteca is housed in one of my favorite old buildings in town; besides its deconstructed façade, its surrounding neighborhood contains a train station (which also houses the Museu da Lingua Portuguesa), a park (where you can see rubber trees and middle aged prostitutes, as well as turtles and at times sloths, amidst public sculptures), and almost everything in between, all with a lovely patina of decay (decadence avec elegance). 

As luck would have it, most of the galleries were closed. And photography was only allowed in the main area of the installation Teoria (Theory) by Ignasi Aballi, pictured below. Graciela Iturbide was featured in an encyclopedic manner, with all her greatest hits featured (the prints are more impressive than their publication, i was glad to have that reaffirmed). One of my favorite thematic exhibitions during my visit was  Desenhar no Espaço: Artistas Abstratos da Venezuela e Brasil (To Draw in Space: Abstract Artists of Venezuela and Brazil). Some of the usual suspects, such as Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica were featured there; but new names were added to my list of favorites, such as Mira Schendel and Gego. My biggest regret was not getting the catalogue, and I hope someone who reads this and lives in São Paulo remember that my birthday is coming up (it is always coming up, November is around the corner).

Also not pictured here is the Estação Pinacoteca, an offshoot of this institution, located at Estação Julio Prestes from walking distance. Again photography was not allowed, and half of the galleries were under construction/remodeling. Their top floor, however, featured an impressive Georg Baselitz, where he repainted some works from previous decades. The scale of the room and the works allowed for an almost meditative contemplation of his works that literally aim to flip your vision upside down.

Museu de Art de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP)
While certainly the architecture of this museum (a hanging modernist glass structure that seems to float amidst the city chaos) is always the main attraction, followed by a vigorous restaurant and bookstore in its lower levels, what the museum normally presents (a mix of collection and rotating exhibitions) makes the visit worth. This time around they presented Deuses e Madonas: A Arte do Sagrado (Gods and Madonnas: The Art of the Sacred), and Lugares, Estranhos e Quietos  (Places, Strange and Quiet), containing photographs by Wim Wenders.

While I was not allowed to photograph most exhibitions, below are some guerilla-style images I made of the Se Não Nesse Tempo (if not in this time) of contemporary German painting, as well as the work presented on the façade of the building, by Regina Silveira titled Tramazul (I added an external video for this piece at the end of the post).

Itaú Centro Cultural (a bank)
I have always had found memories of this place, because it was here that I once fell in love with interactive new media art, at the early part of this century (before I had a crush). I actually walked to Itaú with my sister immediately after our MASP adventure, which proved to be much longer than I remember (next time will take the metro, even if it is only one stop). By the time we got there we were pretty tired, so we briefly looked at the Egyptian exhibition on display there, which was somewhat encyclopedial (does this work exist?), but filled with digital displays where one could flip pages and zoom into details. 

The exhibition Histórias de Mapas, Piratas e Tesouros (Histories/Stories of Maps, Pirates, and Treasures) took place on the two lower levels and on the second floor. While the notion of mapping has been overplayed for some time now, the 22 artists selected, from six   South American countries, managed to provide a fresh perspective onto it, combining manipulation of space, manipulation of represented space, and performance, and the many different intersections these trajectories brought forth. while the space is not necessarily huge, it packed quite a lot of work within its walls, making the experience somewhat exhausting. 

The first lower level housed photography, video and some installation art, while the second lower level had mostly video works. The second floor (which is actually the Brazilian first floor, the first floor there is the ground floor -terreo) contained the most interesting works in my opinion, and coincidentally was the only level I photographed, because I did not think photography was allowed anywhere. It was there that the exploration of mapping and media, as well as mapping as a deconstruction of experiences came to the fore (one of my favorites was the breaking down of cooked portions of fried rice from different restaurants in Caracas).

Galeria Luciana Brito
While this gallery is for profit, their programming, which includes lectures and discussions in addition to artist talks and opening receptions, is often partially funded with governmental grants. The exhibition I visited, Back to Simplicity by Marina Abramovic, was accompanied by a bilingual catalogue with the same title, which the artist signed and handed for free at the opening reception (that edition print ran out by the time I visited the show, see gallery video below).

It was great seeing in person and with the 4th dimension many seminal works by this artist I had only previously encountered as still images and/or poor quality web-video. Even better was to fall in love with new works.

This gallery, although difficult to find (one must drive over there), has become a favorite of mine). This exhibition was my last art sighting in São Paulo this season, and a great way to end this blog entry that started with a wonderful solo artist and ended with another.

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