By Saira Ansari, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica (Municipal Art Center Hélio Oiticica) is presenting a multidisciplinary exhibition of one of Brazil’s most important and internationally recognized artists, Sonia Andrade. The show, titled ‘Sonia Andrade – Retrospective 1974-1993,’ opened on September 21st and will be on display until November 27th.

Sonia Andrade, Rio de Janeiro, brazil, News
Sonia Andrade attends a discussion with supporters, fellow artists, critics and curators alike, photo by Saira Ansari.

Sonia Andrade is often referred to as the pioneer of video art in Brazil, owing to her experimental videos made as far back as the early 70s. Her portfolio includes works she has made in Brazil as well as in France and Switzerland, which has been shown across the world and at important institutions such as the Louvre in Paris and MoMA in New York.

The current show occupies all three floors of the exhibition center and displays works in seven different sections, representing various projects undertaken at different times. They include graphite drawings, mail art, photographs, sculptures, neon light displays, found objects, installations and, of course, video.

In an interview with the artist, Andrade mentions: “I’m happy with how the show has been put up and it has been generally very well received, however the audience was largely surprised to see the body of work on display as they mostly expected all video works.”

Andrade tackles themes of politics and the role of the spectator to an image, as well as poetic musings on the existence of life and the essence of the earthly elements. The exhibition includes her famous mousetrap pieces that she made during Brazil’s military dictatorship, a mass mailing project across various ‘postcard-locations’ in Brazil, and an installation presented at the International Biennial of São Paulo in 1977.

Her work ‘Hydragrammas’ – presented originally in 1993 at the National Museum of Fine Arts and later in 1994 at the Museum of Contemporary Art of São Paulo –  is an assemblage of one hundred small sculptures that make use of found objects such as wood and bird feathers, tied in with wires, shards of glass and rusted metal. They maintain a fluid earthly monotone with certain bursts of cobalt blue.

A Caça (1978) by Sonia Andrade, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
A Caça (1978) by Sonia Andrade - Many of the original pieces were censored & removed in 1978. The very few remaining are now on display, photo by 4share.

Many of the artist’s works have been shown in Brazil and internationally under the banner of feminist art due to the strong political content of much of her work. On questions regarding female artists and the feminist movements, Andrade replies, “The feminist movement never really caught on in the Brazilian art scene and there’s not many such works to display.”

On Monday, October 10th, a roundtable discussion took place on the work and featured the artist, the curator of the show Marisa Flórido, artist/critic Fernando Cocchiarale, and Franklin Espath Pedroso, curator and visual arts coordinator of the Municipal Culture.

They were joined by Cornelia Butler, curator of MoMA New York. An interesting discussion took place, one that art lovers across the cultural and lingual divide could thoroughly enjoy.

The exhibition is at Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica, until November 27th; open seven days a week including holidays. Free admission. Rua Luis de Camoes, 68 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro.


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