By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Examining fifty years of work by Brazilian conceptual composer and multimedia artist, Guilherme Vaz, the exhibition “Guilherme Vaz: uma fração do infinito” (Guilherme Vaz: a fraction of the infinite) will open at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil do Rio de Janeiro (CCBB Rio) on January 13th and will continue through April 4th.

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Guilherme Vaz performing his composition, Paper Sheet Music, during the 1973 Bienal de Paris, photo divulgação, courtesy of CCBB Rio.

In addition to featuring 41 works by Vaz and others including films, sound installations, paintings, sheet music, documents, and photographs, the exhibition will include a book launch and three discussions.

Born in Araguari, Brasil, in 1948, Guilherme Vaz is one of Brazil’s most notable contemporary composers and is often credited with introducing to Brazilian cinema, musique concrète (concrete music), the experimental use of recorded natural sounds/found sounds in compositions.

Vaz, began his career in the late 60s, working with Rio de Janeiro filmmakers, musicians and artists and scoring films including “Fome de amor” (Hunger of Love) in 1968 and “O anjo nasceu” (The angel was born) in 1969.

While Vaz’s compositions were confusing to some, he would go on to became a pioneering figure in the Brazilian avant-garde movement during the 1970s. A highly sought-after composer, Vaz, to date, has provided soundtracks for more that sixty films, thirty of which were feature-length films.

In addition to concrete music, Vaz has been known to work in the genres of experimental jazz, free jazz, harmonic music and in the outer fringes of MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). He helped to found the Grupo de Compositores da Bahia (Bahia Composers Group) and worked with the free jazz group Calmalma de Jazz Livre in 1967 and later with Ney Matogrosso in 1975.

During his career, Vaz has also studied, taught and written about South American indigenous peoples, their cultures and musical traditions. He has presented his sound works including the harmonic concert Music in Manaos which featured the indigenous people of Gavião-Ikolem ethnicity and “Paper Sheet Music” in exhibitions in cities around the world including New York, Paris, Olso, and Rio de Janeiro. Additionally, Vaz has released several albums of his compositions including 2007’s o vento sem mestre and Sinfonia dos ares and 2006’s La Virgen and Deuses desconhecidos.

When asked by Correio Brazilliense during a 2009 interview about the difference between the audience acception of his film compositions versus his concerts and live presentations, Vaz explained, “In film, experimental music is more understood than in pure concert due to the presence of the images, they translate their meaning. Music, being an abstract art, is demanding, and images facilitate a larger understanding, translating the music into images that are understood effortlessly.”

“Acceptance depends on understanding,” Vaz added. “The cinema translates, it is an art of translation between all languages. The cinema as a universal translator not only unites the languages ​​but also the world, and varying practices, and contemporary language par excellence.”

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The exhibition chronicles Guilherme Vaz’s over fifty year career exploring the possibilities of sound, image courtesy of CCBB Rio.

Curated by Franz Manata, the “Guilherme Vaz: uma fração do infinito” exhibition will occupy three rooms on the second floor in CCBB Rio. The first room will feature Vaz works with South American indigenous peoples including paintings, photographs, video of Vaz’s “Música em Manaos” concert and an installation consisting of a sculpture made from hundreds of marcas.

The second room will house displays of sheet music and will include a sound installation. While the third room will examine Vaz’s life with displayed documents, works, audio files and videos of the films Vaz’s scored included “Os guardiões da floresta” (1990), “Panthera Onca” (1991), “Cauê Porã” (1999), “Nós e não nós” (2003), “Amazônia” (2006), “Mata Atlântica” (2007) and “Tamboro” (2009).

Additionally, three discussions/debates will take place during the exhibition’s run. First on February 24th, CCBB Rio will host a talk entitled, Guilherme Vaz e a arte contemporânea (Guilherme Vaz and contemporary art). Speakers Franz Manata and Marisa Flórido César will discuss Vaz’s role in the introduction of conceptual art and sound to Brazil. During the day there will also be an official launch of the book “Guilherme Vaz: uma fração do infinito” (Guilherme Vaz: a fraction of infinity).

The second discussion entitled, Guilherme Vaz e o cinema (Guilherme Vaz and cinema) will take place on March 9th and will feature speakers Franz Manata, Júlio Bressane, and Suzana Reck Miranda examining the use of concrete music in Brazilian cinema.

The third talk of the series entitled Guilherme Vaz e a música (Guilherme Vaz and music) will then take place on March 23rd and will feature Franz Manata and J.P. Caron discussing Vaz’s role as a conductor and composer and his relation to classical music and the formation of Brazilian cultural identity.

There will be an opening ceremony for the exhibition for guests on January 12th, at 7PM. The exhibiton will then open to the public on January 13th and will run through April 4th.

What: Exhibition – “Guilherme Vaz: uma fração do infinito” (Guilherme Vaz: a fraction of the infinite)
When: January 13th through April 4th. Wednesdays through Mondays 9AM to 9PM.
Where: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil – CCBB Rio de Janeiro, Rua Primeiro de Março, 66 – Centro
Entrance: FREE

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