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As a continuation of the Abdias Nascimento and the Black Art Museum Program, the exhibitions present different possibilities of the Black presence in the field of art. One of the exhibitions focuses on Rubem Valentim, while the other is a group exhibition featuring over 30 artists

Rubem Valentim em seu ateliê em Brasília, 1978. Credit: Fundo Rubem Valentim/Masp

On Saturday, September 23rd, Instituto Inhotim opens to the public two new temporary exhibitions: ‘Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim’ [Fazer o moderno, construir o contemporâneo: Rubem Valentim] and ‘The Right to Form’ [Direito à forma], at Galeria Lago and Galeria Fonte, respectively. The exhibitions are part of the program ‘Abdias Nascimento and the Black Art Museum’ [Abdias Nascimento e o Museu de Arte Negra] and will run until next year. Both exhibitions showcase the various possibilities of the Black presence in the field of art, featuring a diversity of artists and techniques. They are curated jointly by Guest Curator Igor Simões, and Inhotim Assistant Curators Lucas Menezes and Deri Andrade. The exhibitions are sponsored by Shell, at the Master level, through the Federal Law of Incentive to Culture.

The core of the exhibition ‘Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim’ centers on works from different periods of his production: from paintings from the 1950s, to his reliefs, objects and serigraph emblems, as well as records of the construction of the “Marco Sincrético da Cultura AfroBrasileira” (“Syncretic Landmark of Afro-Brazilian Culture”), a concrete monument over eight meters high, erected in Praça da Sé, São Paulo, in 1978. The show also includes other artists whose work intersects with Rubem Valentim’s artistic work, thus broadening the debates proposed by the exhibition.

The group exhibition ‘The Right to Form’ features works by artists of various temporalities and forms, such as Ayrson Heráclito, Emanoel Araujo, Lucia Laguna, Luana Vitra, Mestre Didi, Mulambö, Rommulo Vieira Conceição, Sônia Gomes, Rebeca Carapiá and Yhuri Cruz. The exhibition also includes an educational program curated by guest Pedagogical Curator Jana Janeiro.

“What is at issue at both exhibitions are the countless possibilities of Black presence in the field of art, beyond definitions that attempt to encapsulate Afro-Brazilian artistic production within a limited set of manifestations. The Atlantic experience too, in both cases, opens up as an extremely important field for thinking about this production. What we have in both exhibitions is the concrete evidence that any attempt to understand Brazilian art has to go through the production of Black artists ”, explains Igor Simões, guest curator of the new exhibitions.

“At Shell, our pillars for cultural sponsorship are diversity and inclusion. Supporting Inhotim and, in particular, the exhibitions that evoke black protagonism in our culture, strengthens our commitment to building and consolidating these pillars with Brazilian society,” says Glauco Paiva, executive manager of Communication and Social Responsibility at Shell Brasil. The company currently ranks second among the largest sponsors of culture in the country through incentive funds.

Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim

Rubem Valentim (Salvador, 1922 – São Paulo, 1991) was formed as an artist in the spaces of ateliers and exhibitions, traveling through Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, London, Rome, Venice, Brasília, Dakar, São Paulo, among other places in the world. Since the 1950s, the artist is an active figure in the exhibition circuit. He participates in the 1962 Venice Biennale, he is present in eight overviews promoted by the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo between 1969 and 1988, as well as in various São Paulo biennials. His work, marked by emblems and symbols, complex geometries, two-dimensional compositions, reliefs, objects, compositions and colors, connects Africas, Americas and Europes.

The exhibition ‘Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim’ presents a set of works from the collection of Instituto Inhotim spanning over thirty years of the artist’s production, combined with works on loan from the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo and Museu de Arte da Pampulha.

The trajectory of Rubem Valentim is one of those emblematic references that call for a revision, albeit late, and point to Black existences as protagonists, as defining of what Brazilian art is. The show also presents works by artists from different generations whose inquiry finds resonance either in Valentim’s references, processes, and materialities or his compelling synthesis, and critical stance”, says Lucas Menezes, co-curator of the exhibition.

In the vicinity of the works by Rubem Valentim, the exhibition includes pieces by other artists such as Mestre Didi, Rosana Paulino, Emanoel Araujo, Jaime Lauriano, Rebeca Carapiá, Allan Weber, Bené Fonteles, Rubiane Maia, Froiid and Jorge dos Anjos. Also, new works are exhibited by Minas Gerais artists Froiid and Jorge dos Anjos, commissioned by Instituto Inhotim. Frooid is presenting an installation consisting of 25 pieces that will be arranged differently every day. Jorge dos Anjos is showing two steel sculptures, one exhibited in the gallery space and the other in the external area. In conjunction with the exhibition space, the show has an atelier space that will be activated based on a pedagogical program developed by Educativo Inhotim.

Artists in the exhibition ‘Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim’ Rubem Valentim, Allan Weber, Bené Fonteles, Emanoel Araujo, Froiid, Jaime Lauriano, Jorge dos Anjos, Rosana Paulino, Rebeca Carapiá and Rubiane Maia.

The Right to Form

Tadáskía, Untitled, 2021. Charcoal, spray and nail polish on paper, 100 x 72cm. Inhotim Institute Collection. Credit: Disclosure/Instituto Inhotim.

More than 30 artists participate in the group exhibition ‘The Right to Form’, in a dialogue with the collection of Instituto Inhotim, which has been formed through new acquisitions with a focus on the production of Black authors. The exhibition presents an overview of the production by Black artists from different periods. “The right to formal inquiry is the starting point of the works that occupy the space. Whether in consonance or in opposition, these works reposition a discussion about Black-authored art, which has been closely related, in recent years, to figuration. Anchored in diverse research, the exhibition offers an overview of the art currently produced in the country and abroad, showing itself as a place for debate and narrative constructions for another history of art in Brazil”, explains Deri Andrade, cocurator of ‘The Right to Form’.

Amidst the absences and presences within the collection itself, it is evident that for the Black artist the possibilities are manifold. In works that sometimes touch, draw near and drift apart, these nuances are placed side by side, straining and reactivating discussions on what has been understood about the art produced by Black people in the country of the white Brazilian canon.

Sixty works were selected for this exhibition, among them, the video documentary Orí (1989) by Raquel Gerber, about the historian, Black movement activist and intellectual Beatriz Nascimento, which is one of the starting points of the group show, and the installation commissioned by Instituto Inhotim Dança dos Mortos Egunguns (2023) by Eneida Sanches. ‘The Right to Form’ encompasses an artistic production where propositions related to form have been investigated with regard to themes concerning the Abdias Nascimento and the Black Art Museum Program, which occupies Inhotim’s calendar from 2021 to 2024.

Artists in the exhibition ‘The Right to Form’: André Vargas, Antonio Tarsis, Ayrson Heráclito, Ana Cláudia Almeida, André Ricardo, Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, Cipriano, Edival Ramosa, Edu Silva, Emanoel Araujo, Eneida Sanches, Iagor Peres, Isa do Rosário, Igshaan Adams, Helô Sanvoy, Jabulani Dhlamini, Juliana dos Santos, Lucia Laguna, Luana Vitra, Marcel Diogo, Mestre Didi, M0XC4, Mulambö, Rommulo Vieira Conceição, Siwaju Lima, Rubem Valentim, Raquel Gerber, Rebeca Carapiá, Sônia Gomes, Tadáskía, Thiago Costa and Yhuri Cruz.

‘Doing the Modern, Constructing the Contemporary: Rubem Valentim’ will be on view at Galeria Lago (pink path) from the 23rd of September, 2023, until September, 2024. ‘The Right to Form’ will be on view at Galeria Fonte (yellow path) from the 23rd of September, 2023, until March 2024. For more information, please visit Inhotim.

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