The four finalists of the eighth edition of PIPA Prize, Éder Oliveira, Bárbara Wagner, Antonio Obá and Carla Guagliardi

PIPA Prize 2017 Finalists’ Exhibition on view at MAM-Rio

(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Antonio Obá, Bárbara Wagner, Carla Guagliardi and Éder Oliveira. Some might say that the four PIPA Prize 2017 finalists couldn’t be more different from each other. Each comes from a different part of Brazil. Obá lives in the capital, Brasília, in the Central-West region of the country. Wagner was born there as well, but grew up in Recife, in the Northeast. Guagliardi is from Rio de Janeiro, but has been splitting her time between Rio and Berlin, in Germany, for the last twenty years. Finally, Oliveira is from Belém do Pará, in the North of the country, a region highly overlooked when talking about Brazil. What’s more, they all work with different media, too: Obá specialized in performance, Wagner in photography, Guagliardi in sculpture and Oliveira in painting.

According to PIPA Institute curator Luiz Camillo Osorio, such diversity regarding both the finalists’ upbringings and preferred media reinforces PIPA’s commitment with expanding Brazil’s artistic scene. When asked about what do these artists have in common, Camillo says that the four of them are characterized for their highly charged production.

The works they showcase on PIPA Prize 2017 Finalists’ Exhibition, which opened last weekend at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM-Rio) gathering about 400 people, seem to confirm Camillo’s analysis. Although very distinctive from each other, each artist “shares a poetic intensity and commitment towards their own expressive truth, to be conquered no matter what”, to use the curator’s words.

Some of the finalists are known for using their works to convey social criticism and analysis of some sort. Such is the case of Antonio Obá’s and Éder Oliveira’s pieces featured in the exhibition. Oliveira reproduced, in the museum walls, one of his works from the series “Arquivamento” (“Filing”). The project consists on painting huge, primary-coloured portraits of people pointed out as criminals by Belém do Pará’s yellow press.

– The idea is to question why these people are always the ones linked to vulnerability and criminality situations – explains Oliveira, adding that these individuals usually have their faces printed everywhere without having a proper judgement beforehand. A painter by mètier, he painted the wall in only three days, during the mounting of the exhibition.

Éder Oliveira, “Arquivamento” [“Filing”] series, 2004-

Obá, on the other hand, decided to address the larger topic of Brazilian identity in “Ambiente com Espelhos” (“Ambiance with Mirrors”). The installation is formed by a series of old frames whose mirrors have been replaced by iron plates. Each is accompanied by a monotype portraying a part of the artist’s body. The pieces intent to question the very idea of a national identity: just like these mirror-like structures, such a notion reveals itself to be quite empty and vague.

– In the end, my proposal is to problematize the fact that, at the same time you can see yourself – it still is a kind of mirror –, it doesn’t offer you any precision, it’s always doubtful. It doesn’t portray a precise identity; instead, it reflects a fragile, fleeting one.

Antonio Obá, “Ambiente com Espelhos” [“Ambience with mirrors”], 2017

Bárbara Wagner, too, shares a political vein with Oliveira and Obá. Participating in the Finalists’ Exhibition with two series, both about typical Northeastern dances, she states:

– For me, participating in this show along with the other artists gives me great satisfaction, because it’s not only a recognition of my work, of my particular practice, but also of a whole way to think about art. In my view, art is a way to reflect about the world around us.

It makes sense. Wagner has been focusing her photographic practice on the ‘popular body’ and the ways makes itself visible and subverts both the worlds of pop and folk, traditional cultures. At MAM-Rio, she presents two series: “The Courtege”, portraying a group of a traditional Brazilian dance called Maracatu moments before they leave for a Carnaval parade; and “Set to Go”, project which features both photos and a video to understand how can movements so different such as those of pop and frevo (another regional dance) can be performed by the same body.

Bárbara Wagner, “The Courtege”, 2013

Carla Guagliardi too brought to the Finalists’ Exhibition the latest developments of the sculptural research she became famous for. Her installation, “Fuga II” (“Escape II”) is made out of concrete blocks and copper tubes, all connected with rubber wires. Again, the themes that have been following the artist for the last thirty years reappear, such as mobility and immobility, temporality and atemporality, lightness and heaviness.

Carla Guagliardi, “Fuga II” [“Escape II”], 2017

Chosen by PIPA Board amongst the 56 artists nominated in this edition, Obá, Wagner, Guagliardi and Oliveira run for the main category of the Prize, to be decided by the Award Jury, which is worth R$130,000. They also compete for PIPA Prize Popular Vote Exhibition, which awards the artist with the highest number of votes given by the visitors during the course of the exhibition with R$24,000 – located within the exhibition area, the ballots are open until November 5th.

The winners of both categories will be announced on November 18th, date in which we will also be launching PIPA Prize eighth edition’s catalog. See you then!

Watch a video on the mounting of the PIPA Prize 2017 Finalists’ Exhibition at MAM-Rio:

View some of the photos from the opening of the exhibition:

“PIPA Prize 2017 Finalists’ Exhibition”, group show featuring Antonio ObáBárbara WagnerCarla Guagliardi and Éder Oliveira
On view from September 23rd through November 26th

Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (MAM-Rio)
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