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Entrevendo by Cildo Meireles:
An Invitation to States of Attention
A key artist for Brazilian contemporary art, Cildo Meireles will have a solo exhibition at SESC Pompeia, in São Paulo, beginning September 25. Curated by Júlia Rebouças and Diego Matos, Entrevendo [Glimpsing] will feature 150 artworks developed since the 1960s, including both well-known productions and works being shown for the first time. The show, which will run until February 2020, is the largest exhibition on Meireles ever held in Latin America and provides a broad overview of the artist’s diverse production, pointing to his use of different artistic languages, with an emphasis on environmental and installation works.
Entrevendo, 1970/1994. Fan heater, wood, ice © Cildo Meireles. Photo: Filipe Braga
Entrevendo (1970/1994), the work that lends its name to the show, is the starting point for the curatorial proposal. This work invites the spectator to intensify his or her state of attention and to become aware of what escapes from more explicit visualities and materialities. In this exercise of enlarging the senses, the exhibition aims to present works that serve as devices for corporal, symbolic and cognitive experiences.
Amerikkka, 1991/2013. Metal, wood, 20,000 painted wooden eggs, 70,000 revolver bullets © Cildo Meireles. Photo: Galerie Lelong
The selected artworks very notably include the installation Amerikkka (1991/2013), in which the work’s spatiality is compressed and abridged between two flat sheets. A lower base, bearing 20,000 small egg-shaped objects, seems to have become the target of the upper surface: a structure filled with 70,000 bullets of two calibers. Signs of this sociopolitical approach are also present in Volátil [Volatile] (1980/94), an installation in which a single candle burns down in a closed setting, atop a thick layer of ashes. While observing the single burning candle, one becomes aware of the smell of natural gas in the room. The idea of finiteness suggested by the title of the work is also present in the fleeting duration of a burning flame, prompting the spectator to reflect on the brevity of existence and the risks that surround us. In both cases, the sensation of threat and something imminent are an essential part of the experience.
Volátil, 1980/1994. Candle, ash and odor of natural gas. © Cildo Meireles. Photo: Sesc
Works such as these allow us to observe the attention that Meireles devotes to sensorial and perceptive aspects of his projects, without neglecting the power of the political factors that define them. It should be remembered that ever since the 1960s, his investigation has been broadening the notions of conceptual art – a category always associated with his work – beyond the rationalist asepsis that generally characterizes it. In this effort, Meireles has consistently aligned physical, material and formal properties with processual attributes, always confronting them with public, economic and social mechanisms.
The artist has also focused on a deeper understanding of Brazilian culture and its reconfigurations based on the dilemmas imposed by the global market. To this end, he has drafted analyses and carried out interventions on the systems of circulation that constitute these commercial instances and their regimes of power. By dealing with the complex nature of this social material, his investigation has stoked the debate about the reorganization of borders in the contemporary context while rethinking the geopolitical scene.
Zero Real, 2013. Banknotes, offset printing on paper. © Cildo Meireles. Photo: Pat Kilgore
It is important to mention that the artist is linked to a generation that defied the limits of the art system and became engaged in the discussion about the status of the artwork and its role in the social contexts. In this sense, Meireles’ activity is outstanding not only for its artistic inroads and multiple vocabulary. The artist is also recognized as a thinker, responsible for questioning the definition of art during the course of the institutionalization of the contemporary production, as well as for reviewing the field in which it is produced, taught, debated and put into circulation. Entrevendo therefore exercises an important historical role, by raising awareness about the production of one of the most relevant names in Brazilian artistic production and reflection.
Tue - Fri 10:00 am - 9:30 pm
Sat, Sun, Holidays 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
From press information.
Detail of Cildo Meireles' artwork Olvido, 1987-1989. Approx. 6,000 banknotes of American countries, charcoal, 3 tons of bones, paint, 70,000 paraffin candles, sound.
© Cildo Meireles. Photo: Sophie Mutterer