Side Gallery is thrilled to present Form Follows Beauty, an exhibition involving two key figures of Latin American design. Brazilian Oscar Niemeyer, a main figure in the development of modern architecture during the twentieth century, and Pedro Reyes, a contemporary Mexican artist, creating a dialogue resonating with both modern and ancient sources.
Critics and researchers are yet to thoroughly investigate the parallel between Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture and design. The dialogues between functionality and elegance of forms, between artistic sensibility and intuition, are integral aspects of his work.
Like many great artists, Niemeyer structures thought through the act of drawing. He designed and created furniture, in collaboration with his daughter Ana Maria Niemeyer, to ensure that his interiors spoke the same language as his architecture; in both, Niemeyer was seduced by the curved line and sinuous angle. The elegance
and economy of his forms resemble that of Portuguese colonial furniture in Brazil; the former is equally uncomplicated and stripped down, with a Japanese influence similar to that which inspired Charlotte Perriand, and with an organic aesthetic similar to those of Jean Arp and Henry Moore.
The curved line that defines the feminine figure, sensual and delicate, is the same line that defines Niemeyer’s architecture and his design. In his political drawings, the same enchantment for life and humanitarian qualities suggest that the world would be better if all humans were given the same opportunities. The poet Ferreira Gullar once said that in Niemeyer "beauty is weightless."
From a Contemporary point of view, Reyes has been looking closely at the history of his own country. Reyes’s collection is based on Mexican tribal objects, using a three-leg principle from pre-columbian time. Most pottery and stone artefacts had three legs, unless you had an even surface as a floor, one leg would be loose. In his new Tripod Series, Reyes takes this principle and adapts it with a modern language.
The materials Reyes employs in these sculptures further the careful attention to ancestry. Volcanic stone is a recurring material for the artist, and he notes both its integral role in the shaping of Mexico’s landscape and its deep connection to the diet of its inhabitants, used for millennia to grind corn in “mutates” and “molcajetes”, the traditional Mexican version of the mortar and pestle.
From Niemeyer’s vast collection designed and produced with his daughter Ana Maria Niemeyer, the most important pieces will be displayed, showcasing the relationship between Niemeyer’s architecture and his furniture, alongside Reyes’s Tripod series, bringing together a Latin American display of historical and contemporary design.
Called “Form follows Beauty”, the exhibition aims to minimize colour and material by rendering the pieces in monochrome, allowing the form of the historical and contemporary pieces to create the beauty by itself.