This summer, Lisson Gallery marks its entry into the string of group shows sprung up across the art world with a show that opens a dialogue between the work of artist Hélio Oiticica and a range of intergenerational artists with varying relationships to Latin America. The presentation is curated by César García-Alvarez, the Executive & Artistic Director of The Mistake Room in Los Angeles.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Oiticica is perhaps one of the most consequential artists of the postwar period. When considering his legacy scholars and curators tread between two narratives. The first traces his pioneering advances in abstraction, sculpture, environmental installation, performance, and film, while the second details his role as a countercultural figure who challenged established discursive, social, and institutional structures. What binds these different stories is Oiticica’s life-long impulse for invention.
For this show, that impulse takes front row, with a range of works that explore the body and its presence through a range of materials and interpretations, always in the pursuit of constructing and reinterpreting spaces. A focused selection of Oiticica’s early works on paper open the exhibition—functioning like a key to his space-making endeavors. What follows are three sections: Forms, Ambiences, Embodiments. In each of them, artists use material and conceptual strategies to dismantle taxonomizing structures that confine their work to their subjecthood. There’s immense compositions in wood and paint, photograph and rubber, each time allowing new conceptions of space, and new material relations to emerge.
At a moment when the geographic, conceptual, and linguistic bounds around Latinx Art are tensely debated, Oiticica’s inventive drive becomes a powerful tool to imagine an alternate framework of engagement that unsettles the defining impulse of art history. Collectively, the artists in this show grapple with a restlessness that gifts us glimpses into what it means remake ourselves consistently while existing at the crossroads of many pasts, places, and experiences.
The show closes August 11th.
– D. Creahan
Lisson Gallery [Exhibition Site]