(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
Living in Rio for 4 years, Rodrigo Braga, known for his research on the relationship between men and nature, crates installation with royal palms trunks at Casa França-Brasil. The show, opening tomorrow, is curated by Thais Rivitti.
Casa-França Brasil presents until May the exhibition “Tombo” [“Tumble”], site-specific installation by Rodrigo Braga, artist highlighted in the contemporary art scenario, PIPA finalist and winner of PIPA Popular Vote in 2012. Now, Braga is a contestant for PIPA 2015.
Born in Manaus in 1976, raised in Recife, living in Rio de Janeiro for 4 years, Rodrigo Braga is present in numerous exhibitions in Brazil and abroad. He took part in the 30th São Paulo International Biennial, in 2012. His works are among important collections, such as MAM-Rio, MAM-SP, and Maison Européene de La Photographie, in Paris. “Tombo”, curated by Thais Rivitti, is the artist’s first solo show in Rio de Janeiro.
Braga created the installation specifically for the central interspace of Casa-França Brasil. There, 15 logs of approximately five meters will be disposed on the floor, segmented from five centenary royal palms. “Tombo” creates an immediate relation with the 24 internal columns on the gallery space, which is one of the neoclassic marks in Brazil, constructed in 1820 by French architect Grandjean de Montigny.
Curator Thais Rivitti observes that “the palm trees logs fallen, dispersed through the space disorderly, and the building columns, constructed in a regular shape, create among them a series of approximation and distancing that unfold in numerous directions”. “In first place, the work places a discussion between ‘nature and culture’: nature appears in the palm trees in its raw state, and culture in the neoclassic architecture, in which the columns take an important part”.
Rivitti reminds that John VI of Portugal, in 1808, when arrived in Rio de Janeiro, planted the first Royal Palm, Roystonea oleracea, in the Botanic Garden of Rio de Janeiro. The seeds were from Carribbean, and were brought to the King from the Maurice Islands, which was a French colony in the Indian Ocean. On that time, the government goal was to adapt foreign species in Brazil. As the palm trees, the columns at Casa-França Brasil also represent a try of “acclimatisation”. “Coated by a painting that imitate marble, the columns at Casa-França Brasil reveal to visitors the country’s neoclassic adaptation”, explains the curator.
SYMBOLIC CONSTRUCTION OF BRAZIL
“I really like history, nature, and, when I arrived in Rio, my approximation, my admiration for the city, came from observing the historical architecture and palm trees”, Rodrigo Braga tells. “These centenary palm trees in the city were part of all the politic periods. They are there for about 150 years”. Its peels, trunks, are impregnated with parts of the city. They are a reflection, a mirror, and the city grew and was modified around them. And they remained there.”
Braga highlights that the palm trees were initially a project by the Empire. “Palm trees could only be planted in public buildings ou in court houses. These seeds of palma mates in the Botanic Garden were protected. Only the King could tell who was allowed to grow them”. With the passing of time, the seeds were sold illegally to nobles, not only in Rio de Janeiro, but also in other capitals and in the country side. “It was the beginning of what would define the Brazilian homeland, the King had just arrived. While Europe was dealing with a urban situation, Brazil was a vast territory, with exuberant nature, and the palm tree represents symbolic value for the construction of Brazil.
RUINS AND TRANSFORMATION
One of the side rooms of Casa-França Brasil will be occupied by a video-installation with images of the removal of condemned palm trees in Horto, South zone of Rio de Janeiro. Rodrigo Braga comments that the show’s title refers to “disaster, tumble for ruins or ageing”. “The loss, the fall relations deliberated by men, relates to my previous works somehow. Tension limits among what is the nature and the men forces. But also relates to changing, transformation, natural cycles of ending and beginnings”, the artist says. “I like seeing the speculative dimensions of work, of people imagination. The viewer’s interpretation”.
Historical references will be placed on the other side room, such as architectural plants from the old Commerce Square, botanic drawings, traveller’s reports and chronicles from that time. French writer Charles Ribeyrolles, in 1858, describes the Royal Palms at the Botanic Garden as “a room in a palace, as they were elegant columns, relating palm trees and architecture”.
“Tombo” [“Tumble”], by Rodrigo Braga
Curated by Thais Rivitti
Opening: April 1st, at 7:30pm
On view through May 24th
Open talk: April 29th, at 7pm, with artist and curator
Guided visitation: May 2nd, at 4:30pm, with the artist
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