galeria nara roesler | são paulo
opening: april 10, 2018, 7pm
april 11 – may 30, 2018
mon – fri: 10am – 7pm
sat: 11am – 3pm
galeria nara roesler | são paulo
avenida europa 655
jardim europa 01449-001
são paulo sp brasil
t 55 (11) 2039 5454
Galeria Nara Roesler is pleased to present the first large-scale solo gallery exhibition of works by León Ferrari since his death in 2013. An Argentine multimedia artist honored with the Golden Lion at the 2007 Venice Biennale, Ferrari is represented by Galeria Nara Roesler in Brazil and abroad. Curated by Lisette Lagnado, this panoramic exhibition at the gallery’s São Paulo location covers almost half a century of his creative process, presenting a selection of works made between 1962 and 2009.
“Deeply knowledgeable about the canonical gospels, León Ferrari dedicated much of his time to defending his main thesis: that the artistic heritage of Western culture is based on promises of penalties and torture, with Hell and Revelation as categorical imperatives of impious humankind,” says Lagnado. She notes that in the contemporary universe of artistic practices, encounters with such an expressive mass of engaged writings are rare.
Lagnado also emphasizes that the artist’s public persona has become inseparable from his extensive and multifaceted production, which she defines as obsessive, controversial, and good-humored. However, she issues a warning about the concept of activism as expressed in his works: “One soon realizes that ‘activism’ is too reductive a label to explain the monumentality of an oeuvre that contains an extraordinary assemblage of reproductions collected from the history of art.”
For Lagnado, this abundance reveals the works to be iconophilic in character rather than iconoclastic, as they appear at first glance. “The proposition here is to recover this extensive iconography, without making a tabula rasa of its artistic or religious aura, but rather examining it through a scientific lens to extract a primitive meaning from the figures portrayed. It is not a question of establishing a confrontation with the spiritual dimension of religion, but of understanding what is ‘being given to see’—the structure and morphology of each scene,” the curator concludes.
In April, Ferrari will be a relevant presence in the art circuit. Aside from his solo exhibition at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo and his figurehead status at SP-Arte, the artist is the focus of a seminar at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, facilitated by Lisette Lagnado and with the participation of Catherine David, Curator of the Centre Pompidou; Pablo León de la Barra of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Anna Ferrari of Fundación Augusto y León Ferrari Arte y Acervo – FALFAA, among others. In addition, Ferrari’s works will be presented as part of Esculturas para Ouvir at Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia, São Paulo, and another exhibition of the artist will open at Galeria Nara Roesler in New York.
León Ferrari (Buenos Aires, 1920–2013) is one of the most celebrated Latin American artists in the world. He was lauded at the 2007 Venice Biennale, where he received the Golden Lion in recognition of a body of work that, until the end of his life, motivated him to challenge the world in which we live. In his artistic practice, he used such diverse languages as sculpture, drawing, writing, collage, assemblage, installation, and video, integrating themes that reveal his character as a researcher and activist: the aesthetic investigation of language; the questioning of the Western world, power, and the rules that dictate the values of religion, art, justice, and the state; the reverence for women and eroticism; and the depiction of violence. His poetics, recognized since his early works, also draws on repetition, irony, and literality.
Ferrari’s drawings and sculptures of the 1960s are especially permeated by his ethical questioning of religion and his denunciation of imperialism. In 1976, a military coup forced the artist and his family to leave Buenos Aires and move to São Paulo, where they remained until the 1990s. During his time in Brazil, Ferrari joined the circuit of the local experimental avant-garde and became involved with the process of language revitalization through the production of heliographies, photocopies, musical instruments, concerts, and postal art. Upon his return to Argentina, the artist continued to produce politically engaged artworks, interrogating the disappearances that occurred during the country’s military dictatorship.
His works were included in such major international exhibitions as The Words of Others: León Ferrari and Rhetoric in Times of War, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), USA, 2018, and Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, Los Angeles, USA, 2017–2018; La Donación Ferrari (The Ferrari Donation), Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2014; León Ferrari: Brailles y Relecturas de la Biblia (León Ferrari: Brailles and Rereadings of the Bible), Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina, 2012; Tangled Alphabets: León Ferrari and Mira Schendel, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA, 2009, 2006; Retrospectiva León Ferrari, Pinacoteca do Estado do São Paulo, Brazil, 2006; Retrospective León Ferrari, Obras 1954–2004, Centro Cultural Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004; and Politiscripts, The Drawing Center, New York, USA, 2004. He participated in Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind: Art in the Present Tense at the 2007 Venice Biennale, where he received the Golden Lion.
Today, Ferrari’s works are found in important institutional collections including PAMM, USA; the Art Institute of Chicago, USA; the Wifredo Lam Center, Havana, Cuba; the Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zurich, Switzerland; Fondo Nacional de las Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; MALBA, Argentina; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; MoMA, USA; and Tate Modern, London, UK.