The visit of Max Bill
30 Aug – 26 Oct 2019
Kogan Amaro Gallery
Löwenbräu-Kunst. Limmatstrasse, 270
Zürich CH-8005 – Switzerland
In her latest series of paintings Brazilian artist Fernanda Figueiredo explores Max Bill’s visit to Brazil in 1953 and the decisive influence he exercised on the art scene of the period. They are a witty homage to the Swiss polymath and to the Brazilian practitioners of Concrete Art. In humorous fashion, she challenges the elitism and mystifications of the European avant-garde and contributes to the discourse on postcolonialism and other contemporary debates.
Figueiredo creates large collage-like paintings in acrylic, in which she combines iconic motifs from Max Bill with works of Concretismo – typically by several artists in a single picture. These works explore how artists in Brazil in the 1950s appropriated Max Bill’s ideas and visual vocabulary and made them their own.
Figueiredo’s titles usually name the artists she is quoting. However, their works are hardly recognisable unless the viewer is already familiar with them. She often multiplies the visual quotes, superimposing them on each other or placing them side by side to create patterns. These compositions, though abstract, sometimes evoke landscapes or interiors. Some of Figuereido’s latest works include an extraneous element, which enhances their playful quality. With the inclusion of tropical house plants, popular in homes across Europe as well as Latin America, these paintings suggest imaginary interiors that appear to follow their own logic.
The main work in the exhibition, four-metres wide, is Taioba, which dates from 2018. It evokes an imaginary museum composed of works by Max Bill and by the Ruptura group. Their show at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo in 1952 marked the breakthrough of this radically different kind of art in Brazil. Taioba alludes to works by Geraldo de Barros, Lothar Charoux, Waldemar Cordeiro, Hermelindo Fiaminghi, Judith Lauand, Maurício Nogueira Lima, Luiz Sacilotto and Anatol Władysław. Taioba is the name of a tropical plant – in English, arrowleaf elephant’s ear – that features in traditional south and central American cuisine. It is depicted life-size in the painting.
Fernanda Figueiredo was born in São Paulo in 1978 and has lived and worked in Berlin since 2015. She has had a number of solo exhibitions in Europe and Brazil. Works of hers feature in the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro.