Today I would like to introduce you to the Brazilian artist Henrique Oliviera. For one, because non-American and non-European artists are very much underrepresented in our network. But most importantly, because I have never seen anything like his ‘tridimensionals’ installations.
Installations of used and weathered pieces of wooden construction fences from his hometown Sao Paolo that are bend and wound into enormous abstract shapes, which at times resemble dramatic 3-dimensional brush strokes. While other times they resemble over-sized human body parts that entwine, twist, overlay and open up for you to walk through and discover nooks and crannies. Combining painting, sculpturing and architecture Oliviera truly mastered the art of spatial constructions.
According to Contemporist, Oliviera has been experimenting with surfaces of his paintings by gluing newspaper onto a canvas and scraping it, or mixing sand with the paint early on in his career, but the breakthrough came when he was a student at the University of São Paulo, where for two years the view from his studio window was a wooden construction fence. Over time Oliveira began to see the deterioration of the wood and its separation into multiple layers and colors as similar to the process of painting. In line with this process Oliviera often uses tapumes, which in Portuguese can mean “fencing,” “boarding,” or “enclosure,” as a title for his installations, which refers to the construction fences seen in Sao Paolo, as well as the weathered wood he uses as primary material for his installations.
“In some installations he uses walls as supports, attaching and shaping lengths of PVC tubing to create enormous, protruding forms over which he layers thin sheets of wood. In others, he arranges thousands of pieces of painted wood into gestural abstract ‘paintings’ that spill off the wall. The constants in Oliveira’s work are the visual and tactile qualities of wood that has been exposed to the elements, and though he incorporates new, flexible plywood into his work, his primary material remains the discarded wood collected on the streets of São Paulo.” (Contemporist)
In February 2011 Oliviera’s work will be seen at the The Smithonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAfA) in Washington D.C. The exhibition Artists in Dialogue: Sandile Zulu and Henrique Oliveira, will be the second in a series of exhibitions in which exciting artists (at least one of whom is African) are invited to a new encounter — one in which each artist responds to the work of the other, and resulting in original, site-specific works at the museum. The exhibition will also include a selection of works by each artist to reflect who they are coming into the encounter.