Rio de Janeiro, one of the most vibrant cities in the world, is defined by its culture. For the last five years, ArtRio has highlighted artistic talent hailing from the city—and throughout Brazil—while also attracting an impressive swath of galleries from across the globe. This year, the fair hosts dealers from 11 different countries, and while the international presence is a testament to the fair’s reach and influence, of equal importance are the artists who’ve come from the fair’s home soil. Below, we’ve compiled a set of 13 Brazilian artists who are making waves at home—and increasingly abroad as well.
Lopes’s work is concerned with its own formal qualities while also highly engaged with its use of materials and the politics beyond the canvas with which it contends. The artist has enjoyed exhibitions across Brazil, including the 2006 São Paulo Biennial, as well as in New York. At ArtRio, his woven black and white pieces of elastic, wood, and other materials appear as undulating forms which exemplify Lopes’s refined understanding of texture and weight.
The Amazonian street artist, hailed as an icon of the 2014 São Paulo Biennial, has garnered increasing international recognition in the last year. First shown at the biennial, Oliveira’s large mural depicting young mixed-race brazilians, faces plucked from newspaper crime pages, is an evocative and compassionate assertion of identity and strength. That work will be making a hard-to-miss appearance at ArtRio.
Over the course of a three-decade career, Pessoa’s work has been exhibited both across Brazil and internationally. The artist is known for traversing a range of mediums, and her recent, first solo exhibition at Mendes Wood DM featured both geometric sculpture and painted oil silhouettes that slinked across the canvas, their dark animal and human forms reminiscent of mythical ancient cave drawings that appear frozen upon the page yet just teetering on the brink of life.
In the overcrowded city of Rio de Janeiro, space and design aren’t abstract concepts but rather pressing political and economic issues. Murgel’s drawing and installation works broadly meditate on such subjects. Following his recent inclusion in a group show at PSM Gallery in Berlin, the artist mounts a solo booth at ArtRio’s VISTA section. Figurative watercolors and an accompanying sculpture offer a slightly unsettling comment on the hostile design of public and private spaces.
Armed with a camera and a keen eye, Baldan, who has been nominated for three PIPA prizes, investigates the humanity and the politics of urban architecture with a quasi-journalistic curiosity. “On the road, in between spaces, I find myself amazed by how monotony can be broken by strangeness,” she has said. Her “Carandiru” series (2008-2013) captures the infamous, now-demolished Brazilian prison turned storage site, touching on how collective urban memory around built structures fades and forms.
De Medeiros is a documentarian who uses the inherently pliable nature of reality and fiction to transcend and fracturing mainstream narratives of the world in which we live. Her series “Studio Butterfly” (2003-2015), which was previously included in the 27th São Paulo Biennial and images from which will be at ArtRio, is the result of complex but lasting relationships between de Medeiros and transvestites in Salvador. The series’s works are emblematic of the honest and powerfully human social consciousness that characterizes her practice.
A graduate of London’s prestigious Saint Martin’s School of Art, where she studied drawing, Bolsoni has since expanded her practice to include sculptural pieces that incorporate sand, stone, and even household objects. Bolsoni has garnered growing national and international traction thanks to showings at the Modern Art Museum in Rio, as well as outings in Milan, Oslo, and recently at the LISTE art fair in Basel. Her works at ArtRio exemplify the subtle and enigmatic style that earned her a nomination for Brazil’s 2015 PIPA prize.
Through her photographs and video pieces, Pocztaruk creates works of haunting stillness that often comment on tumultuous political and cultural climates both in Brazil and farther afield. Devoid of people but teeming with mystery, the spaces she photographs are loaded with meaning. Although not at ArtRio, in her photograph of Beelitz Sanatorium in Germany, a drape floats quietly in a breeze, the trees just visible outside the window, as the viewer is left to imagine the history of the abandoned space.
Escobar, is interested in the ever-present visual manifestations of urban landscapes. In his captivating and charming series “The World” (2011-13), which will be on display at the fair, the artist appropriates images from advertisements, maps, and posters, among other found materials, arranging their figures in playful pop-up books. Through their arrangements of landmarks, animals, and human figures, these tableaus speak to the real basis from which their imagery was sourced, yet also eschew a prescribed narrative in favor of creating free-floating connections.
Chaim engages with Brazilian geometric and constructivist art, which, like many South American movements, is often overlooked by the standard Western art historical cannon. Chaim’s use of folds and form has been likened to that of the great Brazilian sculptor Amilcar de Castro. Her work employs the body, materiality, and geometry to abstractly address familiar yet often unnoticed occurrences, such as the everyday experience of how a body interacts, alters, and generally moves through the world.
Catunda is one of the older artists on this list. Her collages having been exhibited across the Americas, from Argentina to Aspen, Brazil to New York. Vibrant in color, the works layer various textures, often incorporating fabric that drips off the gallery wall. The circular shapes and twisting forms have a biological quality, resembling images from a lighthearted botanical book depicting flora from another world.
Soato likes mischief, bringing its sexual, political, and personal aspects to bear in fervent, quasi-narrative oil paintings that won her the PIPA prize’s popular vote in 2013. Though she dips into a figurative and narrative tradition, she’s not afraid to poke fun at that very same history. In Cafajestes (2015), Soato riffs on Manet’s The Balcony (1868), adding to that stately scene, among other things, a fornicating monkey and dog, and a topless lady clutching a beer. The result is characteristic of Soato’s practice—energetic, humorous, and utterly engrossing.
After exhibitions across Europe and in Brazil, last spring Pitta made his U.S. solo debut at Marianne Boesky in New York with a series of videos that captured the visceral textures and subtle movements of his native Brazil’s landscape. Pitta’s multimedia body of work explores decay and transformation through meditative, detailed representations (and rearrangements) of nature’s elements: rock, water, and air. A captivating still from Atlas/Oceano (2014), Pitta’s equally engrossing short film that screened at the Seattle Art Museum in June, will be available at ArtRio.