Espaço Aberto / Espaço Fechado: Sites for sculpture in modern Brazil

5 February – 14 April 2006

Exhibition in Galleries 1, 2 and 3

This exhibition reveals how fluctuations in political, social and economic stability in Brazil over the past fifty years have helped shape ideas about sculpture, as well as how sculpture represents those events.

Brazil has exercised a strong fascination as a site of modernity over the last half-century, from the first São Paulo Bienal of 1951, to contemporary artists working in the present day.

Espaço Aberto / Espaço Fechado opens with the two award-winning sculptures from the first Bienal, which marked the beginnings of a period of optimism in Brazil, reflected in the growing interest in Modernism. International attention was drawn especially to Niemeyer’s architectural projects which seemed to embody the new confidence of the country. His influence is represented in this show with works by a current generation of artists who offer their responses to his utopian vision.

The exhibition title means ‘open space/closed space’ and is taken from a photograph by Rubens Mano of the Niemeyer pavilion used for the Bienal since 1957. Unusually, Mano shows the pavilion empty and, as such, invokes the limitless potential of the unfilled site.

After the coup of 1964, which led to 21 years of military dictatorship and to strict censorship of all art forms, artists had to find new strategies in making their work. Sculptors took advantage of the fact that sculpture, by its very nature, could readily be sited beyond the confines of the official museum or gallery. Often at great personal risk, they arranged illegal ‘happenings’ and interventions in alternative venues and on the street and much of the material on show will reflect the unofficial and temporary nature of this work. Sculptors working today retain this dynamism, supported by re-invigorated commercial galleries and buoyed by a return to democracy and prosperity.

The accompanying catalogue contains essays by Michael Asbury, Cacilda Teixeira da Costa and Felipe Chaimovich, an introduction by curator Stephen Feeke and statements by many of the artists involved.

Venue details

Venue address

Henry Moore Institute
The Headrow
United Kingdom
T: 0113 246 7467

Opening times

Galleries: Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm

Research Library: Monday to Friday, 10am - 5pm
Archive of Sculptors' Papers: Tuesday to Friday, by prior appointment

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