Alexandre Melo

  • Dias & Riedweg

    The exhibition “Até que a Rua Nos Separe” (Until the Street Do Us Part), installed in exemplary fashion at the Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica in a commercial district of central Rio de Janeiro, brought together nine video installations and four series of photographs made in the city between 1992 and 2012 by Maurício Dias and Walter Riedweg. Their work demonstrates the relationship between art, politics, and society in the complex urban context that is Rio, from the social cataclysm of the 1990s to the present-day efforts toward “liberation” of the favelas, passing through the empire of drug

  • “Neobarroco”/João Pedro Vale

    Exhibited as part of the group show “Neobarroco” in São Paulo along with works by Camila Sposati and Friederike Feldmann, the most recent large-scale sculpture by the Portuguese artist João Pedro Vale, Foi bonita a festa, pá (The Party Was Beautiful, Yes), 2006, was constructed from a jangada, a balsa raft from the northeast of Brazil. This craft seems particularly appropriate to its situation in this gallery, the work of Paulo Mendes da Rocha (winner of this year’s Pritzker Prize), who has created a long, narrow, very high nave, much like an overturned boat.

    Let us examine the metamorphoses and

  • Vasco Araújo

    Let’s begin with a question: What might one have done to induce an apt mood for viewing Vasco Araújo’s recent show “L’inceste”? My recommendation: Listen to Mozart and read the Marquis de Sade. For “L’inceste” was a contest between reason and perversion, elegance and corruption, good and evil. And the only rules of the game are those that determine the theatrical power of staging and interpretation. The show was composed of ten works spread over three rooms in Lisbon’s Museu Nacional do Azulejo (National Tile Museum). The dialogue between the traditional pieces on permanent exhibition and

  • James Coleman

    James Coleman’s show combined a retrospective dimension—ranging from the historic Pump, 1972, and Playback of a Daydream, 1974, to mature works like Lapsus Exposure, 1992–94, and Charon (MIT Project), 1989, an extraordinary reflection on the nature of photography as a medium and the complexity of its aesthetic and sociopolitical role in contemporary life—with the premiere of a new work, –horoscopus, 2004–2005. Two television monitors placed side by side showed people engaged in conversation. Sometimes one image took up the entire screen, usually in close-up. At other times the screen was split

  • Jarbas Lopes

    Carioca is the familiar term for inhabitants of Rio de Janeiro and an adjective associated with time-honored manifestations of Brazilian popular culture like Carnival and the samba. But the word also signifies a kind of open, sensual, pleasure-oriented conviviality. It is this type of congenial social and cultural experience that has set the tone of A Gentil Carioca since it opened in 2003 in one of the city’s typical working-class neighborhoods, a zone of traditional small businesses, originally Arab and now with a strong Chinese presence. Merchants and buyers mingle at the doors of an endless

  • Helena Almeida

    Pés no Chão, Cabeça no Céu” (Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds) encompasses thirty-five years of work in which, between the studio floor and the blue sky, everything passed through the body of Helena Almeida. In the ’60s the artist began questioning the material and conceptual elements that constitute the definition of painting. In the ’70s she abandoned traditional modes of depiction to undertake an array of practices whose point of departure is her own body. It all begins “inside me”—“Dentro de Mim,” as the title of a series of photographs from 2000–2001 says—not in the psychological

  • “Other Alternatives”

    Subtitled “New Visual Experiences in Portugal” and gathering works by twenty Portuguese artists under the age of thirty-five, this exhibition confirmed the vitality of the Portuguese artistic scene. It took place in Galicia, a border region with close ties to Portugal. MARCO, housed in a former prison constructed on the model of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon, invited the viewer to begin at its center, where Joana Vasconcelos’s A noiva (The Bride), 2001, was situated. A chandelier fifteen feet high and over seven feet in diameter hung from the ceiling, dropping to a mere eight inches from the floor.

  • Cardinales

    Seldom does the inaugural show of a new museum so effectively bring together the very concept of exhibition with the architecture of the institution itself and its historical and social place in the city. The former prison that today houses the MARCO was constructed along the lines of Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon. Some of Bentham’s plans were presented in the exhibition, and they illustrate the panopticon’s basic principle, which is the organization of space around a central zone to afford the optimum capacity for observation and control. This structure was preserved in the remodeling of the

  • Antonio Murado

    Before a landscape painting, we ask ourselves, “Looking at this, what do I feel?” This question is inherited from the traditional manner of contemplating a painting, but it also comes to us from the culturally determined manner of experiencing a landscape—that is, under the aegis of such philosophical categories as the sublime.

    On first seeing Antonio Murado’s recent landscape paintings, I asked myself, rather, “Where have I had this feeling before?” Images of real, filmic, and pictorial landscapes ran through my mind, many of them similar to those that in childhood were nurtured by reading

  • Atom Egoyan / Julião Sarmento

    What was so fascinating about Exotica (1994) the film that for many of us marked the discovery of Atom Egoyan, was the way that it enticed you to get dose, as close as possible, to let yourself be suffocated by the proximity of the voice of the flesh, without being able to touch any. This was the secret behind the film’s strip-club atmosphere. I remember the enthusiasm with which Julião Sarmento spoke to me of Exotica after he’d seen it for the first time. Years later, that enthusiasm would bring the two artists together in a collaboration included in the 2001 Venice Biennale: the video installation

  • Adriana Varejão

    The fine color gradations that enliven the apparent chromatic uniformity of Adriana Varejão's Ruina de charque—Portugal (Jerked-beef ruin—Portugal; all works 2001), or the delicate mesh that furrows its surface, might seem to evoke the traditions of Minimalist or monochrome painting. It is thus tempting to discuss the Brazilian artist's work in terms of the history of modernism and the possible significance of its survival. A more attentive look, however, shows us that this is not a strict exercise in abstract painting, but rather the representation of a surface clad in tiles. The

  • Rui Chafes

    Sintra, on the outskirts of Lisbon, is known as a magical place—or at least a place with a romantic atmosphere. Here, Rui Chafes's sculpture was displayed in three quite different spaces: one outside a traditional museum space, the Colecção Berardo, which houses a collection of twentieth-century art; outdoors, as well, at the Parque da Pena, an enormous garden with ponds and man-made grottoes where the sculptures were placed in direct relation to the landscape's natural and artificial elements alike; and, finally, the interior spaces of the Palácio da Pena, created (as was the park) in the

  • Efrain Almeida

    The installation of new works (all 2000) by the young Brazilian artist Efrain Almeida, mounted in the gallery mezzanine, played on the symmetry between works shown on two facing walls. From each of these sprang two wooden hummingbirds captured as if in full flight, their wings spread. From their feet hung long strings of red beads that fell to the floor and stretched out to the center of the gallery. These small ligaments, uniting each pair of birds, traced red outlines on the gallery floor: two drawings that nearly touched, as if describing the shadows of a flight in which the birds, affixed

  • “Um Oceano Inteiro para Nadar”

    THIS YEAR MARKS the quincentenary of the European discovery of Brazil. The official commemorations engendered violent polemics focusing on topics central to discussions of postcolonialism. Descendants of the indigenous peoples whose communities were destroyed have condemned the ethnocentrism of the very idea of such a “discovery.” Oilier groups denounced the Portuguese colonial heritage of violence, slavery, and discrimination, which even today can be linked to the brutal inequalities of Brazilian society. Perhaps for this reason, the curators of “Um Oceano Inteiro para Nadar” (Spanning an entire

  • Julião Sarmento

    “Flashback,” curated by James Lingwood, was one of the most important exhibitions in Julião Sarmento’s career, affording a retrospective view of twenty-five years of the artist’s work. As the title suggests, it links his “white paintings” of the ’90s to earlier phases of his work, specifically to his use of photography and cinema in the ’70s.

    This admirable installation of 121 works occasioned a complete (if temporary) architectural reorganization of the Palacio de Velázquez. The open space was partitioned into twenty-seven rooms laid out in an almost symmetrical fashion around a small, dark

  • Paula Rego

    The evocation of tension—social, sexual, emotional, and fictional—is the thread that runs through Paula Rego’s work. These tensions unite figures who appear to be rooted in the intimacy of domestic life, yet Rego’s visual narratives often eschew realism in favor of allegory and dream, giving her art an archetypal quality.

    Born in Portugal, Rego has been living in London since the ’60s, where she has gradually emerged as a significant voice in contemporary European painting. Throughout her career, she has embraced a wide range of styles, beginning with the art brut of Dubuffet in the ’50s. She is

  • Cristina Iglesias

    Madrid’s Palacio de Velázquez, a former palace located in the center of a park, was an appropriate site for Cristina Iglesias’ traveling retrospective, given her predilection for playing games with interior versus exterior spaces. The show’s centerpiece, for example, was Untitled (Hanging titled ceiling), 1997, an enormous sculpture that was suspended from the ceiling in the museum’s main gallery, dramatically reconfiguring the space. One felt a powerful urge to reach up and try to touch this hanging platform in an effort to determine how it was made. Closer examination revealed a surface formed

  • “The Louisiana Exhibition 1997”

    “The Louisiana Exhibition 1997: New Art from Denmark and Scania,” the first in a series of quadrennial shows intended to highlight work produced in Denmark and southern Sweden, brought together new projects by fifty-two artists. While the exhibition focused on regional activity, it also evinced a global perspective. As a catalogue text affirmed: “Whether you live in Cologne, Copenhagen, or Katrineholm is becoming less and less significant. The [important] thing is how you use the potential of navigating freely between the global and the local.”

    The eclectic selection of works made a systematic

  • Rigo 96

    The artist Ricardo Gouveia, who was born in 1966 on the island of Madeira, signed all the work he made last year “Rigo 96,” the diminutive “Rigo” recalling names adopted by graffiti artists. Rigo’s recent show staged the intersection of various elements in Portuguese society, which is experiencing powerful contradictions between still-vital traditions and cultural globalization.

    Rigo’s work bears the traces of numerous peripheries and displacements, with all of their corresponding contradictions. First, there is the distance between Madeira and Portugal, which is only magnified by the distance

  • Lisbon and Porto

    If the films of Portugal’s most famous cineast, Manoel de Oliveira, are any indication, the Portuguese national character is distinguished by a melancholic romanticism and a propensity for sorrowful passions, mourning, and contemplation. In movies like Amor de perdição (Doomed love, 1978), O Convento (The convent, 1995), or more recently Party, 1996, de Oliveira has mined this territory to compelling, sometimes humorous effect. More recent cinematic efforts, such as Joaquim Sapinho’s first feature-length film Corte de cabelo (Haircut, 1995), which recounts the misadventures of a young couple on