DECATEGORIZED Artists From Brazil
Curated by Francine Birbragher-Rozencwaig PhD
and Celia Sredni de Birbragher
Since ancient civilizations, categorizations have been used to organize knowledge. Even though it is true that grouping artists and works under specific denominations has been a practical alternative for this end, in many cases and in particular when it comes to contemporary art, this process, which generally responds to a Eurocentric view, is totally out of phase. Today, academics and critics suggest new approaches that remove imposed categories. Adriano Pedrosa, curator and current director of the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), suggests, for example, an anti-territorial and anti-national stance through which he limits the boundaries of borders and demarcations. In the publication ArtNexus Brazil in Colombia (2011), a compilation of articles he edited, Pedrosa worked with a non-conventional Brazilian territorial demarcation, broadening the spectrum to include several non-Brazilian artists. That editorial project and this new exhibition correspond to the interests that Brazilian artistic manifestations have inspired for more than forty years.
The show Decategorized Artists From Brazil presents itself as a response to the hegemonizing attitude that impels predetermined categories to link a concrete artistic production to movements or trends. By "decategorizing," the goal is to release the production of the artists selected and see it with the prism of individuality. Conceptually, the exhibition questions and challenges such as categorizations. Instead of creating a common ground based on a style or territoriality, it presents artists who stand out for their uniqueness. This does not mean that they exist in a vacuum. On the contrary, each one enriches his or her work by establishing dialogues with predecessors and contemporaries and recognizing that they are influenced by contexts that may or may not share, such as historical, political, social, or cultural circumstances.
The selection includes artists from different generations who illustrate the wide range of artistic talent in Brazil: Regina Silveira (1939), Iole de Freitas (1945), Carmela Gross (1946), Cildo Meireles (1948), José de Souza Oliveira Filho (Macaparana) (1952), Antônio José de Barros Carvalho e Mello Mourão (Tunga) (1952-2016), Daniel Senise (1955), José Leonilson Bezerra Dias (Leonilson) (1957- 1993), Artur Lescher (1962), Rosana Palazyan (1963), Sandra Cinto (1968), Laura Lima (1971), Vanderlei Lopes (1973), Túlio Pinto (1974), Paulo Nazareth (1977), André Komatsu (1978), Ana Mazzei (1979), Carla Chaim (1983), Daniel Jablonski (1985), Vivian Caccuri (1986) y Felipe Seixas (1989). Each one stands out for making an individual artistic production that offers new contributions. From defining the concept of the work to the explaining the possibilities of using traditional and non-traditional media, to eliminating the boundaries between disciplines such as art, architecture, music, dance, and popular culture, each of them presents a unique proposal that liberates and enriches through creativity.
Several of them share an interest in the meaning and use of space, particularly in the urban environment, and some explore the virtual world's possibilities. Likewise, the majority are committed to the socio-political present through works that have an ideological meaning. Themes such as immigration, racial tension, globalization, colonialism, and their effects on art production and consumption inspire many works included in the exhibition. Historically, these artists have actively responded to their contexts, being the hostile political climate of Brazil's military dictatorship in the 1970s, AIDS in the 1990s, and the COVID in 2020. The key is that the specific becomes universal: works created to respond to particular events and situations evoke themes that transcend temporalities and boundaries.
A key factor is the role that the public plays in the conceptualization of the work. Regardless of the medium and scope, instead of providing works of art for the mere contemplation, they stimulate the public's participation as Helio Oiticica (1937-1980), and Lygia Clark (1920- 1988) did a few decades ago. The artists included in this exhibition challenge and, in many cases, break the limits of the fundamental notions of what art can be, and precisely for that reason, they escape any possibility of categorization.
Francine Birbragher PhD
This exhibition has the support of the Instituto Distrital de las Artes de Bogotá (IDARTES).