MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Domstraße 10'60311, Frankfurt am Main

  • He  lio Oiticica mit Bo  liden und Parangole  s in seinem Atelier
    Title : He lio Oiticica mit Bo liden und Parangole s in seinem Atelier
  • Oiticica Bilaterais
    Title : Oiticica Bilaterais
  • Oiticica Grupo Frente
    Title : Oiticica Grupo Frente
  • Oiticica Metaesquema 1957
    Title : Oiticica Metaesquema 1957
  • Oiticica Metaesquemas
    Title : Oiticica Metaesquemas
  • Oiticica NC1 Pequeno Nucleo no.1
    Title : Oiticica NC1 Pequeno Nucleo no.1
  • Oiticica Nas quebradas 1978
    Title : Oiticica Nas quebradas 1978
  • Oiticica Relevos espaciais
    Title : Oiticica Relevos espaciais
  • Oiticica Tropicalia 2
    Title : Oiticica Tropicalia 2

Hélio Oiticica: The Great Labyrinth
MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Domstraße 10’60311, Frankfurt am Main
28 September-12 Decemer 2013
From the Press Release

This comprehensive retrospective on the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937’1980) encompasses works from all phases of his oeuvre.

Throughout his career, Oiticica was filled with a constant urge for renewal and experiment. The active inclusion and involvement of the viewer were fundamental to his oeuvre, with which’like Joseph Beuys in Germany in the same period’he strove to depart from the traditional conception of the artwork. Oiticica was ahead of his time, farther ahead than virtually any other artist of his generation. It would be many years before the terms “participation,” “environment” and “proposition” would come to dominate artistic discourse in Europe and North America; Oiticica already formulated them at an early stage in his career, and to this day they lend his oeuvre key significance.

In the 1950s, Oiticica’who had started out as a painter’was driven by the conviction that color and form should emancipate themselves from the surface. Within the circle of the Grupo Frente in Rio de Janeiro, he developed ideas about a kind of neo-concrete art that would turn away from the schematic forms of abstraction, which in his view had come to a standstill. His oeuvre ranges from early abstract painting to reliefs floating freely in space, the Relevos Espaciais and Bilaterals, and labyrinth-like rooms. This development went hand in hand with Oiticica’s deliberations on how the relationship between the work and beholder could be changed. In his large-scale installations, the so-called Penetráveis (from the Portuguese penetrar’penetrate), he began integrating the viewer as an elementary part of the art experience. Immersion, engulfment, and dissolution in color, space, time, society, music, and delirium took on key significance in Oiticica’s creative work. In 1964 he went a step further with his Parangolés’textile pieces made of colored layers of cloth and intended for wearing and performing in.

At around the same time, Oiticica took an increasing interest in the organic structures of the Brazilian favelas, the street culture of their inhabitants, Samba, and the role as an outsider, which exerted a fundamental influence on his work and led him to a more comprehensive understanding of the unity of art and life. His most well-known work, Tropicália, a walk-in installation consisting of sand, plants, live parrots, and tent-like dwellings, was inspired by the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. With it, he propagated an open understanding of Brazilian influences on culture and merged them with his fundamental deliberations on the development of art. This room installation gave its name to one of the most important cultural movements in twentieth-century Brazil, which’in addition to the visual arts’found expression above all in music.

The exhibition at the MMK is complemented by three outdoor walk-in sculptures, which are being presented until October 27 at the Palmengarten. This part of the show is the result of cooperation with the Palmengarten of the city of Frankfurt and the masters program “Curatorial Studies - Theorie - Geschichte - Kritik.”

Screening ‘Hélio Oiticica’

The documentary ‘Hélio Oiticica’ (Brazil 2012) by César Oiticica Filho was awarded at the Berlinale 2013 with the FIPRESCI prize and will be released in German cinemas on 3 October. Cesar Oiticica Filho’s first film is a visually striking found-footage documentary about the filmmaker’s uncle, Hélio Oiticica (1937’1980), one of the most important Brazilian artists of the 20th Century. Foregoing voiceover narration and expert analyses, the film allows Oiticica himself to narrate his life and expound upon his art in his own words, and in extremely rare archival audio and visual material. The artist’s commentary guides us through his artistic development and expansive political and aesthetic interests, from his modernist paintings and sculptures in the 1960s to his expanded cinema installations and slide show environments of the 1970s, and from the favelas and the lively street life of Rio, New York and London to samba schools and the tropicália cultural movement, jumpstarted by Oiticica but associated with musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil. The film’s rhythmic montage of images doesn’t simply illustrate the artist’s commentary, but both contextualises and radically expands upon it. The result is a bold and complex portrait of an artist for whom life (including homosexuality and drug use) and work determined and transformed each other.’ (Forum catalog; Marc Siegel)

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