Since 11th April, Henrique Oliveira presents a sculpture at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire entitled “Momento fecundo” [“Fertile moment”]. This is one of the “annual commissions” of the Domaine that make use of materials and ideas to do with nature (as they do every year), the artists invited to Chaumont-sur-Loire in 2014 are taking us on a ride through a fantasy world. Henrique Oliveira begins with his invention of a phenomenal half-animal, half-plant form, bursting forth from the loft of a barn like something straight out of our unconscious.
Henrique Oliveira has chosen one of the big barns in the Farmyard of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire to erect a hybrid, almost living work of art that seems literally to rise up from the stone walls. He has designed an impressive spiral coiling around the framework and stairways of the building like a huge snake or a root that has been buried for decades in the stone and suddenly begins to grow impulsively, out of any control.
The work wavers between animal and plant – its creator sees it as a reference to the snake in the story of Le Petit Prince, which swallows an elephant. But as with Gaston Bachelard (who wrote “The Poetics of Space”), for Oliveira the barn is the lair of the unconscious, and dark, unknown forces. For no one knows where the work begins and where it ends, or when this giant root or reptile will cease its inexorable growth.
Both a painter and sculptor who produces pieces that pack an exceptional visual and artistic punch, Henrique Oliveira uses a cheap material that is commonplace in Brazil: plywood, or wood used in hoardings. He usually weaves the subject of architecture somewhere into his work, marrying its forms, hollows and cracks, and his sculptures share common ground with collage and assemblage.
More flexible than the wood of his first creations, plywood can easily be adapted to the spectacular organic shapes he designs. “My installations are more like living walls built out of flesh, damaged skin, or large paintings.” Like tree trunks or roots torn up by powerful forces or fantastic telluric waves, Oliveira‘s sculptures are also paintings that seem to move before our very eyes, whisking us up into a fascinating swirl of forms.
“Momento fecundo”, installation by Henrique Oliveira
On view through 2nd November
Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire
41150 Chaumont-sur-Loire, France
+33 2 54 20 99 22