Beloved Brazilian Artist Tunga Dead at 64
Portrait of Tunga by Daniela Paoliello. Photo courtesy of Instituto Inhotim.
The boundary-pushing Brazilian artist known simply and sonorously as Louvre’s glass pyramid.
Born Antônio José de Barros Carvalho e Mello Mourão in 1952, Tunga looked to the radical ideas of his Brazilian predecessors Xifópagas Capilares, was revived at Frieze London last year). Other pieces intertwine Biblical allusions with an aura of magical realism—in Viperine Avant-Garde (1985), for example, the artist refrigerated snakes to induce semi-hibernation, braided them together, then released them into the grass where they thawed and meandered away. It’s a work that embodies one of the artist’s signature poetic meditations: “Imagine a human body rebuilt in the alchemy of something which is not from the body, but is from the landscape, from the world.”
Indeed, Tunga’s diverse practice comes together as a potent cosmology, one that will surely survive long after the artist’s premature passing. Next week, at Art Basel’s Unlimited sector, Luhring Augustine, Galleria Franco Noero, and Galeria Millan will present Tunga’s monumental installation Eu, você e a Lua (Me, you and the moon) (2014), a towering constellation of petrified wood, smooth terracotta vessels, and large, dangling shards of quartz—a manifestation not only of the artist’s ideology, but now his legacy, too.
Alexxa Gotthardt is a contributing writer for Artsy.
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