Maxwell Alexandre, untitled, 2021, from “Pardo é Papel: New Power,” 2019–, latex, shoe polish, bitumen, dye, graphite, charcoal, and acrylic on brown kraft paper, 94 ½ × 566 15/16 inches. © Maxwell Alexandre. Courtesy the artist and A Gentil Carioca

Last days to visit “Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power”: Maxwell Alexandre’s first solo show in North America

(New York, USA)

The artist Maxwell Alexandre presents his solo exhibition Pardo é PapelThe Glorious Victory and New Power at The Shed New York until January 8, 2023, featuring large-scale paintings from the “Pardo é Papel” series. The show is organized by Alessandra Gómez, Associate Curator at Large, with exhibition management by Elizabeth Berridge, Associate Exhibitions Manager.

Alexandre has painted Black people on brown kraft paper, commonly referred to in Portuguese as “pardo”. Though the main series title translates directly to “brown is paper” to reference the pardo paper itself, historically the term holds double significance as an ambiguous racial category in the Brazilian census. Activists argue that the category, based on the physical appearance of skin tones rather than ancestry, was designed to obscure Black identity within the Brazilian population by reducing the percentage of citizens who identified as Black. The artist uses pardo paper to affirm Black identity, representation, and empowerment.

Maxwell Alexandre, untitled, 2021, from “Pardo é Papel: New Power,” 2019–. Shoe polish, bitumen, charcoal, graphite, latex, acrylic, and oil stick on paper. 126 x 189 inches. © Maxwell Alexandre. Courtesy the artist and A Gentil Carioca.

The “Pardo é Papel” series depict collective portraits celebrating the empowerment, self-esteem, and prosperity of Black people, with striking scenes of communal leisure interspersed with recurring religious and art historical imagery. Pop cultural symbols appear alongside these images, including depictions of Black cultural icons and commercial products from his childhood: many of the paintings in “The Glorious Victory” (2017-), the first period of the “Pardo é Papel” series, are tributes to Black musicians from Brazil and beyond. The artist draws his work closer to the influence of hip hop and Brazilian rap by referring to his series as albums.

Maxwell Alexandre, “A vitória gloriosa” [The glorious victory], 2018, from “Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory,” 2017–. Latex, shoe polish, hair relaxer, bitumen, acrylic, graphite, charcoal, and oil stick on brown kraft paper. 126 x 189 inches. Artwork © Maxwell Alexandre. Courtesy Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel and A Gentil Carioca. Photo: Gabi Carrera. Courtesy Instituto Inclusartiz and Museu de Arte do Rio – MAR.

The subseries “New Power” (2019-), the most recent one, was made to explore the idea of the Black community within the established temples for art contemplation: galleries, museums and fairs. Understanding contemporary art as an elite field that concentrates great financial and intellectual capital, the series centers Black audiences contemplating art in museums and galleries to draw attention to the exclusionary dynamics at play in white, Western contemporary art spaces.

To read the full exhibition text, click here.

Watch below a video in which Maxwell talks about the ideia behind the works in display:

“Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power”, solo show by Maxwell Alexandre
From October 26, 2022, until January 8, 2023

The Shed | Level 4 Gallery
545 W 30th St, New York, NY 10001
(646) 455-3494

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