My Highlights from ArtRio 2014

My highlights for the fourth edition of ArtRio are informed by an essential and existential longing for meaning and a visceral connection with the artwork, as expressed in numerous conversations with co-visitors of the preview of the 31st São Paulo Biennial, entitled “How to talk about things that don’t exist.” 

In an attempt to engage in an honest, hermeneutic quest, my highlights point to a sense of order—or mystery, as the case may be—aimed at inspiring visitors along their journey through sections, booths, and special projects, to unveil an individual and collective narrative alike.  

The brief descriptions reflect the specific context in which the works were created, while simultaneously pointing at the universal semiotic journey they partake in. Brazilian vernacular is juxtaposed with works from other parts of the Americas that reflect on Modernism (or, more generally, urbanism) as a prominent feature of today’s human condition, and the numerous strategies for leveling the picture plane, scrutinizing the visible, and reaching beyond the tangible realm with an unwavering drive to grasp the innermost workings of perception, reflection, and the construction of reality. 

My Selection: 

Paulo Nazareth, NA - Surrealismo en Mexico regalo a novia de Dali, 2011, at Mendes Wood DM

Paulo Nazareth (born 1977) is one of the most striking and versatile young Brazilian artists. His installations, performances, videos, and photographs reveal social and cultural tensions and divides not only in Brazil but in America, activating an infinitely poetic, and at times surreal, vocabulary.

Ricardo Alcaide, Intrusion nº39, 2014, at Johannes Vogt Gallery

Ricardo Alcaide (born 1967) is a Venezuelan artist who lives and works in São Paulo. While his earlier series of geometrical paintings was inspired by outlines of people’s ephemeral habitats in the streets of São Paulo, the present series engages a dialogue with significant monuments of Latin American Modernism—the landmarks of which form a stark contrast with the precarious living situation of large parts of the urban population in Brazil and beyond.

Wolfgang Tillmans,São Paulo, day, 2012, at David Zwirner

Wolfgang Tillmans (born 1968), German photographer and winner of the Turner Prize in 2000, captures the disruptive nature of the megalopole São Paulo in this matter-of-fact photograph, which is infused with the poetry of the immediate in a multi-layered-ruin-meets-colorfield-meets-favela-painting setting.

Armando Andrade Tudela, Nos transferimos 4, 2014, at Galeria Fortes Vilaça 

Armando Andrade Tudela (born 1975) is a Peruvian artist whose sculptures explore tropical Modernism as an inspiration and metaphor alike. The present work made of plastic, copper, and plaster is intended as a reference to compressed electronic files conveying a cluster of information, but can also be read as the condensation of information and aspirations in a magma of constructions in an urban context.

Lucas Simões, Não Ditos 17 / Unsaid 17, 2014, at Galeria Emma Thomas

Lucas Simões (born 1980), is a Brazilian artist with a background in architecture who won last year’s FOCO Bradesco/ArtRio Award. His sculptures stage future visions of urban landscapes through constructive experiments and multi-layered sculptures, combining materials as diverse as paper and concrete into unlikely, yet meaningful, structures.

Paulo Monteiro, Untitled, 2012, at Mendes Wood DM 

Paulo Monteiro (born 1961) is a Brazilian abstract painter who began his artistic career with cartoons and drawings published in underground magazines in the 1970s. The rich impasto, the subtle palette, and the distinct yet delicate mark-making reveal a poetic vision of man, inhabiting and inscribing urban and other environments.

Ramonn Vieitez, Fragile Moments (a morte do amor), 2014, at Amparo 60

Ramonn Vieitez (born 1991) is a self-taught figurative painter from Recife. His works articulately intertwine urban and mythological themes into surreal and sometimes violent theatrical scenes rich in symbolic meaning.

Mira Schendel, Untitled, circa. 1970, at Ronie Mesquita Galeria

Renowned Brazilian artist Mira Schendel (1909-1988) navigates an immensely rich artistic repertoire that lays bare the essential and fundamental components of meaning, as in this work-on-paper—a collage hoisting a triangle sail towards new horizons.

Explore ArtRio 2014 on Artsy.