MUSEU DE ARTE DE SO PAULO - Assis Chateaubriand

CURRENT EXHIBITIONS

Wanda Pimentel, Untitled, from the Involvment series, 1968 and Untitled, from the Involvment series,1968.

WANDA PIMENTEL: INVOLVEMENTS

This show features, for the first time, a set of 27 paintings from the Envolvimento [Involvement] series, produced at the outset of the career of Wanda Pimentel (Rio de Janeiro, 1943) — a series that remains one of the artist’s most emblematic. The focus of this exhibition is Pimentel’s most productive period for the Envolvimentos, the years 1968 and 1969, although she worked on this series until 1984.

Wanda Pimentel began her studies in art in 1964, in Rio de Janeiro, where she was a student of Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), a painter known for his rigorous geometric abstractions. A good part of artistic production in the 1960s explored new paths for figurative art (in opposition to abstract art) through the pop art of the United States and in England, the nouveau réalisme in France, and the new figuration and new objectivity movements in Brazil. Pimentel’s work, and particularly the Envolvimento series, can be understood in light of the clashing of these two apparently irreconcilable references: on the one hand, the rigor of the lines and abstract, geometric shapes; on the other, the desire to represent the contemporary and everyday world in transformation, as it is experienced and perceived.

The world represented in the paintings of this series involves a female body (even though we only see the body’s legs and feet) in concise framings of household environments — the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, the sewing room. The fragmented representation of the body and of the house is made in a synthetic, schematic, geometrized way, through precise (straight or curved) lines, fields of flat colors (without variations of hue, shadowings or gradations), a meticulous technique of applying the paint (there are no traces of gestures or brushstrokes apparent on the canvas) and a reduced color palette (often with black, white and one, two or three primary colors). The result is multicolored, bright, precise and stiff paintings with fragmented spaces and incongruent perspectives, as well as a strong tension between the bodies, the objects and the involvements among them.

From the sewing machine to the saw, from the articles of clothing and the shoes to the kitchen utensils, from the liquids that run and flow from the bottles and pans to the wisps of smoke or steam that rise from cigarettes and teacups, from the legs to the feet — everything appears to be simultaneously on the verge of chaos and yet submitted to the rigor of an order and discipline, something that the sequence of 27 works presented here (more than the paintings considered individually) reveals and underscores in an elegant way.

These readings take on a special significance if we consider the historical context of the late 1960s outside the history of art: all around the world a boom in mass media and consumer culture, and the women’s rights movements; in Brazil, the military dictatorship (1964-80), which was intensified in 1968 with Institutional Act #5 (AI-5), prohibiting political protests of every sort. In this sense, Pimentel’s simultaneously strident and asphyxiating Envolvimentos can be understood as critical and subtle surgical strikes against the entire system that was then being consolidated.

Teresinha Soares, Morra usando as legítimas alpargatas [Die Wearing the Legitimate Espadrille] (from the series Vietnam) 1968, artist’s collection, Belo Horizonte.

WHO’S AFRAID OF TERESINHA SOARES?

MASP PRESENTS A RETROSPECTIVE OF TERESINHA SOARES, A PIONEER IN THE THEMATICS OF FEMALE SEXUALITY

Inaugurating a thematic axis about sexuality, to include a vast programming of exhibitions, starting on April 27 MASP is presenting the exhibition Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? [Who’s Afraid of Teresinha Soares?], with more than 50 artworks by Teresinha Soares (Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1927), from her intensely productive period spanning from 1965 to 1976. This will be the first extensive overview of Soares’s production ever held in a museum, in Brazil or abroad, and will also be her first large solo show in more than 40 years. The title of the show alludes to the celebrated play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, and refers to the behavioral taboos that the work of Teresinha Soares confronts by being counterposed to the machismo of both society and the art world.

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? will occupy the museum’s 2nd sublevel with paintings, drawings, prints, box-objects, reliefs and installations, as well as photographic documentation about the artist’s pioneering happenings and performances. The show will shed light on the little-known production of one of the most questioning and controversial Brazilian artists of the 1960s, who in that period was widely reported in the mass media. A powerful and emancipated personality, a writer and defender of women’s rights, Soares rounds out her biography by being the first woman ever elected to the city council of the city of her birth, as well as a beauty pageant winner, a public worker and a professor.

A pioneering artist in regard to the treatment of themes of gender, such as female sexual liberation, violence against women, motherhood and prostitution, Soares also made works that dealt with political issues, as in the series of paintings Vietnã [Vietnam] (1968), in which she presents an original and irreverent approach to the theme. The representation of the body is one of the most recurrent motifs in the artist’s oeuvre, encompassing a range of aspects spanning from eroticism and sex to birth, death, and the relationship with nature.

In the work Eurótica [Eurotic] (1970), consisting of an album of silkscreen prints made based on line drawings and printed on differently colored sheets of paper, a variety of sexual positions is configured on the basis of combinations of bodies and different libidinous interactions. Based on those erotic drawings, Soares developed Corpo a corpo in cor-pus meus [Body to Body in Colour-Pus of Mine] (1971), her first large installation, which represents a milestone in her career. Open to participation by the spectator, this artwork is composed of four modules of different heights, made of white-painted wood, like a raised stage in a sinuous shape that occupies 24 square meters of space. On opening day, a performance will be held to inaugurate the work, just like the one Soares carried out in the Grand Salon of the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, in 1970, with the participation of dancers and the narration of a text recorded by her.

Although it is possible to relate Soare’s work with some trends from the 1960s, such as global pop art, nouveau réalisme and the Brazilian new-objectivity movement, the artist always resorted to an artistic language that was both spontaneous and personal. Even today, her work is little-known to the Brazilian public at large, despite that Soares participated actively in the art circuit for ten years, holding exhibitions in galleries, salons and biennials. Currently, she has been increasingly participating in international exhibitions that contextualize her in the ambit of the new figuration movement of the 1960s, as well as in political art: The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop (Tate Modern, London, 2015), Arte Vida (Rio de Janeiro, 2014) and Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2017).

For the exhibition’s curator Rodrigo Moura, “today, as her work is beginning to garner more recognition both in Brazil and abroad, an exhibition that takes a close look at her career and analyzes the evolution of her artistic language contributes not only to this recognition, but also toward understanding the mechanisms and the methodologies that informed a feminist practice in the Brazilian context of that period.” Adriano Pedrosa, MASP’s artistic director, comments on the show’s relevance: “it is a privilege for MASP to present the first general overview of the artist’s oeuvre. The museum thus fulfills a crucial role: that of presenting to the public at large a work which should be considered and reinscribed in the recent history of Brazilian art.”

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? is being held in the context of the museum’s programming for 2017 dedicated to the thematics of sexuality. Around the show Histórias da sexualidade [Histories of Sexuality] which will feature artworks from different periods and collections, there will also be a number of monographic exhibitions by Brazilian and international artists whose works raise questions about corporeality, desire, sensuality, eroticism, feminism, questions of gender, and other issues. This exhibition by Teresinha Soares, will be followed by solo shows featuring the work, respectively, of Wanda Pimentel, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Miguel Rio Branco, Guerrilla Girls, Pedro Correia de Araújo and Tunga.

CATALOG

Simultaneously with the organization of the exhibition, MASP is editing the first large monographic catalog of the artist (R$150, 272 pp.), to be released at the exhibition’s opening. The book has been edited by Adriano Pedrosa and Rodrigo Moura and contains more than 200 illustrations of works by Teresinha Soares, period documents and works by other artists, along with previously unpublished texts by curators of the exhibition, the artist herself and by four invited curators. The authors analyze Soares’s pioneering work and contextualize it alongside the production of other artists who were working in Brazil and internationally in the same period.

The catalog consists of the following texts: “Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares?” by Rodrigo Moura; “A arte erótica singular de Teresinha Soares” [The Singular Erotic Art of Teresinha Soares], by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill; “Realista e erótica, minha arte é como a cruz para o capeta” [Realistic and Erotic, My Art Is Like the Cross Is to the Devil], by Frederico Morais; “O corpo na poética de Teresinha Soares” [The Body in the Poetics of Teresinha Soares], by Marília Andrés Ribeiro; “’Acontecências’: devir-mulher nos jornais de Teresinha Soares” [”Trends”: Becoming-a-Woman in the Journals of Teresinha Soares] by Camila Bechelany; “Um pop pantagruélico: a ‘arte erótica de contestação’ de Teresinha Soares” [A Pantagruelian Pop: Teresinha Soares’s “Erotic Art of Questioning”], by Sofia Gotti; as well as an interview given by Teresinha Soares to Rodrigo Moura and Camila Bechelany and the essays by Teresinha Soares, “Amo São Paulo” [I Love São Paulo] (1968), “Cor-pus meus versus o mar” [My Color/Corpus Versus the Sea] (1971) and “O impossível acontece” [The Impossible Happens] (1973).

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? is curated by Rodrigo Moura, adjunct curator of Brazilian art of MASP, and Camila Bechelany, assistant curator of MASP. Exhibition design by METRO Arquitetos Associados.

PICTURE GALLERY IN TRANSFORMATION

The return of Lina Bo Bardi’s radical crystal easels to the display of the collection presents a selection of 119 artworks drawn from the museum’s diverse holdings, spanning from the 4th century BC to 2008. The easels were first presented at the opening of the museum’s current venue in 1968, and withdrawn in 1996.

The return of the easels is not a fetishistic or nostalgic gesture in regard to what has become an iconic exhibition display device, but should rather be understood as part of a programmatic revision of Bo Bardi’s spatial and conceptual contributions to museum practice. The political dimension of her proposals is suggested by  the open, transparent, fluid, and permeable picture gallery, which offers multiple possibilities for access and reading, eliminates hierarchies and predetermined paths, and challenges canonical art-historical narratives. The gesture of taking the paintings off the wall and placing them on the easels implies their desacralization, rendering them more familiar to the public. Moreover, the placement of the labels on their backs allows for an initial direct encounter with the work, free from an interpretive framework. In this context, the museum experience becomes more human, plural, and democratic

In the original configuration of the easels, Lina Bo Bardi and Pietro Maria Bardi organized the works by artistic schools or regions. Now they will be placed in strict chronological order, laid out in a meandering path. This organization does not coincide with the chronology of art history, with its schools and movements, nor does it oblige the public to follow its course. The spatial transparency of the open floor plan and the easels invites visitors to construct their own path, enabling unexpected juxtapositions and dialogues between Asian, African, Brazilian, and European art. Furthermore, Picture Gallery in Transformation is a semi-permanent collection display, as it will remain open to frequent changes, adjustments and modifications, already planned for early 2016. In this sense, the exhibition avoids the typical ossification and sedimentation of permanent collection displays.

The exhibition’s focus on figurative art reflects the history of the collection and the interests of Bo Bardi and Bardi, who resisted the hegemony of the abstract tradition in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s. They were both wary of abstraction’s potentially depoliticizing effects, in the context of the promotion of geometric abstraction by the US through its Good Neighbor policy during the Cold War. The current display also includes works by artists traditionally considered outside of the Brazilian art-historical canon – such as Agostinho Batista de Freitas, Djanira, José Antônio da Silva, and Maria Auxiliadora – highlighting MASP’s commitment to diversity and multiplicity. The only contemporary work in the display, Marcelo Cidade’s Tempo suspenso de um estado provisório[Suspended Time of a Provisory State], 2008, turns the glass easel into an object of institutional reflection. Its presence also signals the museum’s desire to resume its dialogue with contemporary art in the picture gallery.