Through a kind of architectural anthropomorphism, Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira reveals the building’s structure at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. The artist plays on the space’s existing and structuring features, prolonging and multiplying pillars in order to endow them with a vegetable and organic dimension, as though the building were coming alive. The artist draws inspiration from medical textbooks, amongst others, and particularly from studies of physical pathologies such as tumors. Through a formal analogy, these outgrowths evoke the outermost layers of the bark of a common tree. The texture of this wooden tapumes installation inevitably calls to mind certain tree essences from Amazonian, humid tropical forests: the rivulets and other nodes constitute uncontrollable networks, in a logic that man can no longer suppress.
In the form of paintings, sculptures or installations, the hybrid art of Henrique Oliveira (b. 1973, lives and works in São Paulo) evokes both the urban and the vegetable, the organic and the structural, as well as art and science, through compositions in which the unexpected generates a universe tinted with the fantastic. Oliveira often borrows materials from the Brazilian urban landscape, notably tapumes, wood taken from fences surrounding and blocking access to construction sites. By using these materials, Oliveira highlights the endemic and parasitic nature of these constructions; evoking wooden tumors, his installations function as a metaphor for the favelas organic growth, thus revealing the dynamic decay of São Paulo’s urban fabric. In the artistic lineage of Lydia Clark or Hélio Oiticica, he uses the very context of this sprawling city as a raw material. The way in which it is treated, as well as its unexpected apparition, destabilizes the visitor’s perception of space.
Exhibition Part of the “Nouvelles Vagues” season at the Palais de Tokyo
From the 21st June till 9th September 2013