Critics’ Picks

Henrique Oliveira, Tapumes (Fencing), 2009, salvaged wood, BenderBoard, assorted wood veneers, acrylic paint, staples, screws, 16 x 44 x 12'.

Henrique Oliveira, Tapumes (Fencing), 2009, salvaged wood, BenderBoard, assorted wood veneers, acrylic paint, staples, screws, 16 x 44 x 12'.

Houston

Henrique Oliveira

Rice University Art Gallery
6100 Main Street 352 Sewall Hall
March 26–May 9, 2009

Architectural antecedents prevail in the organic amalgam Tapumes (Fencing), 2009, Henrique Oliveira’s installation that combines found bits of wooden-fencing restraint in his native São Paulo and locally appropriated timber. The gallery at Rice University houses a colossal version of the artist’s swirling vernacular elements, which he dubs “tridimensionals,” undulating off the main wall of the space in orchestrated high relief. At times, the ensemble takes on the visceral pangs of scar tissue writ large; at others, it resembles a gargantuan tree house. Oliveira’s roots as an abstract painter define his subtly honed aesthetic of pastel shades and translucent tints that inform the installation’s sculptural dynamics. Phoenixlike, the materials chosen by the artist are born again in the space, full of a confident exuberance that reshapes their intended purpose. The planks that were once meant to dissuade trespassing onto construction sites now entice the viewer to concoct accompanying surrealistic narratives. Oliveira’s attention to detail within the chaotic assemblage reveals a carefully planned outgrowth seeded in countless hours of daydreaming amid urban detritus. Yet an improvisational flair dominates the space, establishing a theatrical aplomb.