Hélio Oiticica, ‘P15 Parangolé Cape 11, I Embody Revolt (P15 Parangolé Capa 12, Eu Incorporo a Revolta) worn by Nildo of Mangueira’, 1967, Whitney Museum of American Art

Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

Image rights: © César and Claudio Oiticica. Photograph by Claudio Oiticica

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