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Artist: Hélio Oiticica
Writer: Guy Brett e.a.
Publisher: Witte de With, Rotterdam e.a.
Catalogue; 2.000 copies; English/Dutch, size 22 x 27 cm; 280 pages, 87 color and 111 black-and-white photographs.
Published in collaboration with the Projeto Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro and the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris
Texts by Guy Brett, "Noteon the Writings," "The Experimental Exercise of Liberty;" Haroldo de Cam-pos, "Hang-glider of Ecstasy;" Catherine David, "The Great Labyrinth;" Hélio Oiticica, "Eden," "Brazil Diarrhe" "Cara de Cavalo," "Metaesquemas 57/58," Selection of writings 1960-1980; Waly Salamao, "Homage" Postscript by Luciano Figueiredo, Lygia Pape. Biography/Bibliography.
Witte de With presented the first retrospective of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937 - 1980), whose work had previously been unfamiliar in Europe and North America. The exhibition and accompanying monograph contributed to a more complete understanding of the history of contemporary art, by showing how an artist who was so very representative of his times has influenced the work of a younger generation of artists. Witte de With later pursued a similar exhibition concept with its retrospectives of Paul Thek (in 1995).and Frederick Kiesler (in 1996).
Inspired by Mondrian's color theories and the neo-concrete movement in Brazil, Oiticica's early works explored the basic structural questions of color and painting. He sought to overcome the surface's passivity and inertia by hanging works freely in space, and by arranging his suspended color-planes so the viewer could walk among them. In a series of innovative experiments, Oiticica transformed the artwork's support into a live element. He developed the Box Bolides, introducing spatial divisions and plays on opening and closing; the Penetrables, cabins or labyrinths to be physically entered and explored; and the Parangol's, structures resembling clothing, capes, banners, tents for wearing and dancing. With these works, the word "support" lost its meaning; in the Parangol, the body was not the support for the work, it was its total incorporation. These works aimed to create an environmental world, in which the participation of the spectator was essential.
Oiticica's work is closely linked to the social and cultural realities of Brazil. His environmental works have a deliberately anti-Beaux Arts, anti-bourgeois aesthetic, which delights in the unpredictable poetry of the streets, such as the architecture of the slums or the samba, both forms of live culture in which everyone participates. Oiticica's experiments were aimed at finding a true Brazilian art that would transgress stereotypical conceptions of Latin American culture, by aiming not at a new conditioning of the participator, but at overturning every conditioning in quest for individual liberty.