Ela Bittencourt

  • Ana Mazzei

    Ana Mazzei works at the juncture of sculpture, painting, architecture, and theater. This cross-disciplinarity was manifested in the Brazilian artist’s recent solo show, “Vesuvius,” which foregrounded her ingenious use of humble materials. Prime among them is wood, which she varnishes and coats with wax paints, at times adding found objects to construct dreamy scenarios. The show revolved around the idea of remnants, in particular those of the frescoes at Pompeii. One might liken Mazzei’s approach to that of Canadian poet Anne Carson, whose 2002 translation of the works of Greek poet Sappho left

  • picks January 13, 2021

    Antônio Henrique Amaral

    The protean Brazilian artist Antônio Henrique Amaral (1935–2015) didn’t identify with any movement, though critics often tie him to neo-Cubism and Surrealism, with forays into Pop. And rightly so: Braqueian collage haunts Amaral’s blocky linocuts and drawings as Klee’s faux-naïf figuration and Picasso’s frank erotic drawings do his bawdy works in graphite, pen, gouache, and watercolor. As for Pop, one is inevitably reminded of Warhol’s deathly serial silkscreens when regarding Amaral’s own obsessive reiterations of toothy mouths, tortured overripe bananas, bloody meat scraps, and menacing cutlery.

  • Bruno Dunley

    There was something arrestingly fraught about the latest works of Brazilian artist Bruno Dunley. Although the show’s title, “Virá” (It Will Come), taken from one of the works on view, had an upbeat ring, the eight large oil paintings and twelve smaller works on paper (made with conté crayon, oil pastel, charcoal, and graphite) nevertheless emanated a keen sense of tension, even unease.

    In the text accompanying the exhibition, Luis Pérez-Oramas invoked the works of Brazilian painter Alfredo Volpi as well as artist Jordan Kantor’s 2004 Artforum essay “The Tuymans Effect.” Indeed, Dunley’s work

  • “Nuestra América”

    Interrupted by the pandemic, this ambitious show borrows its title, “Nuestra América” (Our America), from an essay by nineteenth-century Cuban poet José Martí, who called for a uniquely South American culture, freed from a Western Eurocentric framework. The exhibition, commemorating Galeria Luisa Strina’s forty-fifth anniversary and featuring forty-one works by twenty-five artists, traces the recent history of a persistent tension in Latin American art, namely that between urgent sociopolitical critique and formal experimentation, especially in abstraction.

    A Logo for America (Miami Beach), 2018,

  • Marepe

    The Brazilian artist Marepe has been called a regional Surrealist and a Bahian Duchamp. He draws on a range of Surrealist strategies to produce his readymade-based works, or “necéssaires,” as he calls them. Dislocation, condensation, repetition, transposition, and puns both visual and linguistic are all part of his process. The thirty-three pieces on view in the large-scale solo exhibition “Marepe: estranhamente comum” (Marepe: Oddly Common) included assemblage, sculpture, video, photography, drawing, and painting, but installations predominated, often combining natural materials such as wood

  • film July 01, 2016

    Young at Heart

    “PRESENTING POSSIBILITIES of cinematographic language” was how Antônio Junior, the artistic director of the international film festival Olhar de Cinema in Curitiba, Brazil, summarized its fifth edition. And indeed, across the board one could sense Latin American cinema’s appetite for experimentation.

    The most rapturous film I saw this year was Há Terra! (There Is Land!), a short by Brazilian visual artist Ana Vaz, whose Occidente (2015) played in last year’s New York Film Festival. Há Terra! picks up on another short, Idade de Pedra (2013), in which Vaz imagined premodernity in her native Brasilia,

  • film May 13, 2013

    Truth and Circumstance

    “MEMORY IS WHAT WE RECORD IT TO BE,” filmmaker Peter Wintonick said at the conference of the eighteenth “It’s All True” (IAT) documentary festival. No one understood this better than Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, whose montages extolled the Bolshevik revolution. In collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum, the festival, with over eighty titles reaching five Brazilian cities, staged a Vertov retrospective, comprising early newsreels, shorts, and seven full-length films.

    From reverse to stop-motion and concealed camera positions, Vertov embraced cinema’s ability to awe and to estrange. In A