Hélio Oiticica

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1937 - 1980

Hélio Oiticica underwent his training in the context of the Brazilian Neo-Concretism which developed around 1955 in Rio de Janeiro, with the theoretical support of poet Ferreira Gullar. He proposes a redefinition of European models of geometric art, undermining the strict rationalism applied to Constructivist Abstraction. Oiticica faithfully reflects the search for another order in his Metaesquemas, a group of gouaches on paperboard which he worked on between 1957 and 1958. These gouaches are the answer to his Constructivist drive. He experiments with the structural elements of painting, colour and the plane, resolving the tensions between them through repeated drawings of squares and rectangles on a monochrome surface. Through colour, he stimulates the static relationships between forms and lines, under the lens of the phenomenology of perception, which points to knowledge of the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Through movement which produces the visual perception of colour, the specific geometric outlines become dynamic, proposing an analysis which calls into doubt the validity of the plane on which geometry and Constructivist Rationalism are based. Beginning with his Metaesquemas, Oiticica abandons painting to develop a new artistic order which invades space. It is an artistic practice that links perception, knowledge, sensation and experience, and which represents a personal reflection on the role of art in society.