Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art (4 stars)

Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art

credit: Tate Modern

Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition captures the revolutionary spirit of artists in Brazil since the 1950s

Revolutionary spirit pervades in abundance throughout this compendium of 18 contemporary Brazilian artists. Many exhibitors have been rarely seen outside their volatile homeland since the 1950s, from when some of the earliest works on show date. It's all too telling in the downstairs gallery that each of the ten black cubes scattered around the centre of the room making up Antonio Dias' 1968 Cabecas (Heads) have a slot in the top. While they look as if they're awaiting a kiddy-sized bus party, they also have the air of stolen ballot boxes put into a more fun environment that redefines politics as playtime.

Elsewhere the bits and pieces of the show are denuded completely. Jac Leirner's Vago 51 (Vacant 51) (2008) is a plastic bag not only flattened on the wall behind glass but its innards gutted, rendering it useless aside from the remaining handle, which effectively holds the bag's frame and nothing else. Fernanda Gomes' untitled vertically standing shelf (2013) is even more functionless, sliced so close that storing anything would be impossible.

Then there is Carlos Zillo's tellingly named Para um jovem de brilhante futuro (For A Young Man With Brilliant Prospects) (1974), which puts an open briefcase filled with rows of nails pointing upwards inside a glass case with the jar of nails that make up Fragmentos de parsagen (Landscape Fragments) (1974) beside it. Ernesto Neto's Partula Passo (1988) loads a pair of nylon stockings with lead balls, transforming hosiery into an undercover but no less deadly weapon. Even more disguised is Artur Barrio's Nocturnes (Transportative) no. 4 (2001), in which a fabric hooded bread box hangs from the ceiling, its status carefully documented on its covering. In the everyday dictatorship it sprang from, it is the contradictions inherent in the system personified that make perfect sense.

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Mon 25 May.

Possibilities of the Object: Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art

A group exhibition looking at the ways in which Brazilian artists made cutting-edge art from the 1950s to the 70s. Curated by Paulo Venancio Filho, the featured artists are Artur Barrio, Waltércio Caldas, Sergio Camargo, Aluísio Carvao, Amílcar de Castro, Willys de Castro, Lygia Clark, Antonio Dias, Ferreira Gullar, Jac…


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