Hélio Oiticica, ‘Metaesquema 193’, 1958, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
When Hélio Oiticica lived in Washington D.C. from 1947 to 1949, he viewed numerous works by Paul Klee in the National Gallery of Art, after which he encountered the great European artist’s work again at the São Paulo Bienal in 1953-54. During the 1950s, while studying under Ivan Serpa at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro, Oiticica would produce numerous jewel-like works on paper in which he explored various tenants of Concretism and color theory. Despite the fact that Oiticica was quick to disregard these early works, they were undoubtedly crucial to his later explorations in Neoconcretism, which critic Ferreira Gullar argued “represented a definitive break from the incomplete, overly formalist understanding of the historical avant-garde that had prevailed in Brazil theretofore and the adoption of a radical project to fulfill the spiritual and expressive transformations called for by Malevich and Mondrian” (Adele Nelson, Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, Carnegie Museum of Art and Del Monico Books, p. 44). Oiticica’s definitive importance within the international art milieu was recognized in a major retrospective in the United States, which traveled from the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, to the Art Institute of Chicago, to the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2016-2017).
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: titled and numbered "Projeto HO, No. 473, Met 193" on the reverse

Private Collection of César Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro
Phillips, New York, November 14, 2011, lot 3
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About Hélio Oiticica

A prominent figure in the modernist Brazilian avant-garde of the 1950s and ’60s, Hélio Oiticica produced paintings in the Neo-Constructivist style of geometric abstraction, experimenting with color, form, and material. Oiticica’s Metaesquemas (1957–8), painted in gouache on cardboard, are grids of rectangular or rhomboidal shapes in variations of blue, red, and black; the shapes often appear to mirror each other bilaterally, but on closer inspection conform to more complex patterns. He also produced three-dimensional works, often crude painted boxes suspended in space and painted in warm hues of red, yellow, and orange. Oiticica’s Parangoles (1964–8), multicolored versions of carnival costumes, were the product of time spent living among the inhabitants of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. He and his younger brother Cesar studied under Ivan Serpa and were associated with Serpa’s Grupo Frente, a loose collective of artists that also included Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. Modernists Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kasimir Malevich were also major influences on Oiticica’s work.

Brazilian, 1937-1980, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil