What to See In Brazil During SP-Arte

From Regina Silveria’s survey at MAC-USP to Paulo Nazareth’s solo exhibition at Pivô, these are the best shows to catch during São Paulo’s art week

BY Ela Bittencourt in Critic's Guides , Exhibition Reviews | 08 APR 22

Regina Silveira

Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC-USP) 

28 August – 3 July

Regina Silveira , Encuentro , 1991/2002 . Print and cut adhesive vinyl . 95 5 / 8 x 149 1 / 2 inches (243.08 x 379.98 cm) . Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York; Luciana Brito Galeria, São Paul
Regina Silveira , Encuentro , 1991–2002, print and cut adhesive vinyl, 2.4 × 3.8 m. Courtesy: the artist, Alexander Gray Associates, New York and Luciana Brito Galeria, São Paulo

Born in 1939 in Porto Alegre, Regina Silveira is one of Brazil’s most renowned living artists. MAC-USP’s survey, ‘Outros Paradoxos’ (Other Paradoxes), looks at key stages in Silveira’s illustrious career, starting with her expressionist woodcuts from the 1960s. In the 1970s, Silveira started experimenting with other media – including silkscreen, video, photography and interventions in urban spaces – which led her to develop what is arguably her signature style in the 1980s: large, black, wall-shadow tableaux, such as O paradoxo do santo (The Saint’s Paradox, 1994), originally conceived for El Museo del Barrio in New York. Addressing mass culture, militarization and political violence, these stark images draw parallels between Brazil’s colonialist past and its history of military dictatorships. Both O paradoxo do santo and O enigma do duque (The Duke’s Puzzle, c.1995) feature miniature equestrian military statues on white plinths, behind which disproportionally large and distorted shadows, in black vinyl, loom ominously on the wall.

Abdias Nascimento

Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP)

25 February – 5 June

Abdias Nascimento, Bay of Blood (Luanda), 1996, Acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm, Ipeafro Collection, Rio de Janeiro
Abdias Nascimento, Bay of Blood (Luanda), 1996, acrylic on canvas, 80 × 100 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Ipeafro Collection, Rio de Janeiro

‘Abdias Nascimento: A Panamefrican Artist’ brings together 61 of the Afro-Brazilian artist and scholar’s streamlined geometric paintings, made between 1968 and 1998. These vibrant works – many of them produced in the US where Nascimento was exiled for 13 years upon leaving Brazil in 1968, four years after the military junta came to power – are characterized by dense spiritualist iconography. For instance, Quilombismo (1980) and Ogum no. 2 (1969) are inspired by the symbology of African diasporic religions (the orixás spirits in Brazilian Candomblé, for instance, or the vévés in Haiti Vodou), which reference the communities of Black Brazilians escaping from slavery.

Judy Chicago & Leda Catunda

Galpão: Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel

12 March – 23 April

JUDY CHICAGO Childbirth in America: Crowning Quilt 8/9, 1982
Judy Chicago, Childbirth in America: Crowning Quilt 8/9, 1982, quilting and embroidery over drawing and painting, 76 × 123 cm. Courtesy: the artist, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro and Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco; photograph: Eduardo Ortega

Pairing two artists separated by age and cultural background – when legendary US feminist artist Judy Chicago was garnering attention for works such as The Dinner Party (1979), Leda Catunda was still in high school in Sao Paulo – Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel’s latest show reveals a commonality of interest not only in the female body, desire, birth and rebellion, but also in the reimagining of painting and abstraction through materials habitually associated with ‘women’s work’. Whether bold and bright like Chicago’s Hitch Your Wagon to Star (2000) – which combines painting, appliqué, embroidery and quilting – or wantonly whimsical, as is the case with Catunda’s Recheada (Stuffed, 2019) – a crimson acrylic painting on fabric, whose shape resembles a flaccid tongue – the two artists’ textile pieces expand painterly gesture by blending brushwork with needlework.

Paulo Nazareth


26 March – 17 July

Paulo Nazareth  BRIGA DE RUA [de CAMISA VERMELHA X de CAMISA   BRANCA], 2020  acrylic on canvas 30 x 40 cm  Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York
Paulo Nazareth, BRIGA DE RUA [de CAMISA VERMELHA X de CAMISA   BRANCA], 2020, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York

The non-profit art space in downtown São Paulo presents a show examining the expansive peregrinations – both physical and conceptual – of Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth across 180 works produced over the past two decades. Known for his long journeys, including his travels throughout the African continent (Cadernos de África [Notebooks from Africa], 2013 ongoing), Nazareth has established a practice that’s archive-based, combining photographs, drawings and found objects. His work is rooted in counter-narratives: themes of territory, Pan-African sociopolitical history, colonialism, racism, immigration, indigeneity and vernacular culture. The show also includes a programme of 15 short videos, shot since 2005, that record the artist’s experiences and poetic performative actions. In Hasta que se queda andar sobre el agua (Until You Walk on Water, 2013), for instance, filmed by the La Plata River in Buenos Aires, the artist carries heavy stones along the riverbank, as if building an imaginary walkway into the water.


Marli Matsumoto Arte Contemporânea

2 April – 11 June

Penelope Kupfer, Hysterical Mum, 2021, oil on canvas, 45 x 50 x 4 cm.
Penelope Kupfer, Hysterical Mum, 2021, oil on canvas, 45 × 50 × 4 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Marli Matsumoto Arte Contemporânea

Since opening her intimate arts space in Villa Madalena in 2021, Marli Matsumoto has been presenting thematically curated shows that pair established artists from the 1960s with up-and-coming Brazilian and international artists. ‘SOL’, curated by Alexandre de Cunha, is a compact show inspired by two works by Brazilian artist Rubens Gerchman: his eponymous happening, SOL (1972), and his installation Sky Eye Yellow Line (1969), first exhibited in the artist’s atelier during his extended stay in New York, between 1968 and 1973. The show features 24 artists working across a broad range of media and styles, from the late modernists Maciej Babiński, Lygia Pape, Mira Schendel, Amelia Toledo and Richard Wentworth to established, mid-career names such as Leda Catunda and Patricia Leite, as well as young Latin American artists, including Ana Mazzei, Fernando Marques Penteado, Zé Tepedino and Pedro Wirz.

Jorge Macchi

Luisa Strina Gallery

10 February – 16 April

JORGE MACCHI Debajo de la mesa, 2022, wood, iron, formica, aluminum, 225 x 225 x 225 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Galeria Luisa Strina
Jorge Macchi, Debajo de la mesa, 2022, wood, iron, formica, aluminum, 2.3 × 2.3 × 2.3 m. Courtesy: the artist and Galeria Luisa Strina

In a 2009 BOMB interview, Argentine artist Jorge Macchi described himself as a ‘producer of fictions’. This is perhaps best exemplified in Macchi’s conceptual games, in which he juxtaposes mundane materials – electric keyboards, pencils, newspapers and ephemera – with visual and musical elements that shapeshift from the recognizable to the uncanny. In ‘The Stature of Liberty’, the artist’s sixth solo show at Luisa Strina, light and shadow, permanence and ephemerality, hardness and softness converge. Avión (Plane, 2020), for example, is a small sculpture of a paper aeroplane made of piano strings. Despite its hardness, the piece itself conveys a sense of pliability and lightness. At times, Macchi’s light-footed, ludic approach becomes more critical, for instance, in Confesión (Samsung) (2020), where he cuts out grill-like holes in a cardboard box and makes it look like both a television and a divider in a church confessional.

Waldemar Cordeiro

Luciana Brito Gallery

2 April – 14 May

Waldemar Cordeiro, Sem Título, 1963, oil on canvas and paper. Courtesy: the artist, Leo ELoy and Fundacao Bienal de Sao Paulo; photography: Genevieve Hanson
Waldemar Cordeiro, Sem Título, 1963, oil on canvas and paper. Courtesy: the artist, Leo ELoy and Fundacao Bienal de Sao Paulo; photography: Genevieve Hanson

‘Waldemar Cordeiro: Intuitive Geometry’ at Luciana Brito Gallery focuses on the pioneering Brazilian concrete artist’s brief transitional period, between 1960 and 1963, when the geometric forms of his paintings became more expansive and gestural. For example, the subtly centripetal swirl of densely overlapping oil paint (predominantly muted blue and bright crimson in Untitled (1963), which is grouped together with a number of small oil paintings in the gallery’s first space. Elsewhere, as in the large oil pastel on paper Untitled (1960) – softened rectangular shapes overlapping vertically and diagonally to form a dense mesh – Cordeiro adheres to a more rigorously contained, nearly grid-bound composition. Comprising some 20 works in oil and pastels, the show also includes some of Cordeiro’s landscape design drawings – a nod to the gallery’s own garden, designed by Roberto Burle Marx.

Main image: ‘Judy Chicago & Leda Catunda’, exhibition view, Galpão Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, 2022. Courtesy: the artists and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo/Rio de Janeiro; photograph: Eduardo Ortega

Ela Bittencourt is a critic and cultural journalist, currently based in São Paulo, Brazil.