São Paulo (April 2017) – Opening today, April 6, at the Galeria de Arte do Centro Cultural Fiesp on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo, is Construções Sensíveis (Sensitive Buildings) a wide-ranging exhibition of the most representative abstract art in Latin America. Assembled from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros collection and curated by Rodolfo de Athayde and Ania Rodríguez of Arte A Produções, the exhibition includes 124 works by 63 artists from seven Latin American countries, representing various mediums: paintings, sketches or works on paper, sculptures, objects, photography and video.
“The exhibition brings to Brazil a profile of the abstraction present in our continent. Together with the important legacy of the Brazilian Concrete and Neo-Concrete movements, the abstract poetics that flourished in other countries since the 1930s will also be on display,” said Rodríguez. Many names are internationally recognized, and many are influencing or have influenced Latin Americans they met in Paris or New York, common points of contact, communication and information.
This rare opportunity to discover, in a single exhibition, so many artists and works that have provoked so much thought and discussion is possible only because, beginning in 1970, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros assembled a collection of abstract, geometric and concrete art, which now contains more than 2,600 works, created between 1920 and 1982. With the founding of the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation (CIFO) in 2002, conditions were created for the support of Latin American artists, both in terms of their production and through the presentation of exhibitions and promotion of art and culture.
In her role as President of CIFO, Fontanals-Cisneros, who was born in Cuba and grew up in Venezuela, insists that the public should have access to the art she has brought together. “In my case, the basic motivation is to learn; I am interested in abstraction, which is why I continue collecting works of art, but other things please me at the same time, and I want to learn more about the conceptual side,” said the collector, who will be present at the opening of Construções Sensíveis. The exhibition invites the public to explore the dialog among artists and groups from countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico.
Since its founding, CIFO has donated more than $1.5 million to more than 120 Latin American artists, to help in the creation and exhibition of new work. It has also organized exhibitions of Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’ collection in various institutions in numerous countries. This environment of encouragement for creators and the appreciation of art, developed by Fontanals-Cisneros, found, in Arte A, the right partner with which to develop the Brazilian exhibition project. Past exhibitions mounted successfully by Arte A (featuring Los Carpinteros, Wassily Kandinsky, Carlos Garaicoa and Virada Russa, to name just a few) and the curators’ extensive knowledge of the artistic panorama of Latin America were fundamental to establishing the relationship that has resulted in this exhibition.
Rodríguez stressed that Construções Sensíveis “is an exhibition conceived especially for Brazil, and is a subtle tribute to the exhibition Arte Agora III, América Latina: Geometria sensível, which was destroyed by a tragic fire while on display at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro in 1978. Many of the artists presented on that historic occasion are displayed here, as a representation of the pioneering trends in the region, and can now be considered together with contemporary artists who are pointing the way forward for abstraction today.”
Brazilian abstractionists are, naturally, well-represented, with Bichos by Lygia Clark and Ttéia by Lygia Pape, Metaesquema by Hélio Oiticica, and the photographs of Thomas Farkaz and Geraldo de Barros, among other important works.
The history of the abstract in Latin America, with all its paradoxes and contradictions, is open to stereotypes and misunderstandings, but, at the same time, there is a need for more extensive research into its conquests and influence, based upon its particular conceptions. Construções Sensíveis represents an important step in the opening up of these horizons, and in ensuring the inclusion of Brazilians on this impressive roster of artists.
THE COUNTRIES REPRESENTED
Below is a sampling of the artists whose works are included in the exhibition, to provide an idea of the scope and relevance of the perspectives that have been assembled:
Argentina: Gyula Kosice, Enio Iommi, Gregorio Vardanega, Martha Boto and Julio Le Parc.
Brazil: Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Mira Schendel, Geraldo de Barros and Thomas Farkaz.
Colombia: Edgar Negret, Leo Matiz, Eduardo Ramírez Villamizar and Feliza Bursztyn.
Cuba: Sandu Darie, Loló (Dolores) Soldevilla, José Mijares, Roberto Diago and Carmen Herrera.
Mexico: Mathias Goeritz and Gunther Gerzso.
Uruguay: Joaquín Torres García, Héctor Ragni, Antonio Llorens, María Freire and Marco Maggi.
Venezuela: Alejandro Otero, Jesús Rafael Soto, Elsa Gramcko, Gego and Magdalena Fernández.
Curator Ania Rodríguez believes that even where there are no proven historical ties between artists of different latitudes, “the links can be established out of an obvious common understanding that affiliates the trends derived from constructivism as an aesthetic paradigm.”
For those unfamiliar with abstract works of art, who may find it difficult to “understand” non-figurative work, an observation made by Ella Fontanals-Cisneros could be helpful: “I think abstract art is something sophisticated, and a taste and appreciation for it is acquired over time.” Construções Sensíveis is an excellent opportunity for viewers to develop this sensibility.
The Latin-American Geometric Experience in the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection
DATE AND LOCATION:
April 6 to June 18, 2017
Galeria de Arte do Centro Cultural Fiesp
Avenida Paulista, 1313, São Paulo, SP
CURATORS: Rodolfo de Athayde and Ania Rodríguez | Arte A Produções Ltda.
PRESENTED BY: SESI-SP