Regina Silveira’s Meret Oppenheim com sombra peluda (Meret Oppenheim with Furry Shadow), 1993, currently on view in the exhibition Past/Present/Future at Phoenix Art Museum, AZ.
Past/Future/Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo presents a rare panorama of the most innovative art produced in Brazil from the 1990s to the 2010s. The exhibition will be the first major presentation of artworks from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo (MAM-SP) in the United States. Premiering on September First Friday, Past/Future/Present will feature 70 artworks created by 59 artists in diverse media, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video.
The exhibition is organized around five disparate but interconnected themes: The Body/The Social Body; Shifting Identities; The Reinvention of the Monochrome; Landscape, Reimagined; and Impossible Objects. These thematic nuclei have porous boundaries that enable visitors to chart their own paths. The works range from small objects to monumental installations, each unique in scope and subject matter.
Although these artworks may differ esthetically, there is much that connects them conceptually. Common threads are recurrent references to Brazilian history, shared experiences, indigenous mythologies, and social norms (and transgressions). The featured artists often invoke national art histories, either in tribute or subversion, but also engage with international artistic trends. The title Past/Future/Present alludes to the creative dialogues they maintain with past Brazilian artistic traditions while also looking toward the future with a wider, global perspective.
This exhibition is a singular opportunity for American audiences to experience an in-depth look at the practice of Brazilian artists now recognized as the pioneers of their generation. The diversity of their proposals illustrates that contemporary Brazilian art cannot be defined by a single “ism” or contained within any one category. These artists enter into dialogues with the traditions of the past at the same time that they participate in current global artistic discussions. Their simultaneous engagement with the past and the future speaks to a singular creative present, and has made Brazil a serious contender on the international stage of contemporary art.
Because the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art houses one of the most important collections of Brazilian art in the world, this exhibition represents only one constellation of artworks among many others that could be imagined. It is not intended as a definitive survey of contemporary artistic production in Brazil, but rather to contribute to the ongoing conversation about what Brazilian art is and can be.