"Empty House Casa Vazia"
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During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of Brazilian artists including Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark gave geometric abstraction a samba beat. Neo-Concrete was their term for rounding over the sharp edges of modern-art rationalism for something sensual and dependent on the viewer’s shifting point of view. As this show of the movement’s founders and spiritual heirs reveals, these ideas are still being explored.
How a work changes as you engage it in space was a core concern, one which lent itself more naturally to sculpture. Thus, the closest things to a painting here—Oiticica’s orange-red aggregate of triangular planes, suspended from the ceiling—is a 3-D object that cannot be grasped from any single angle. Similarly, a sculpture made of hinged panels by Clark can be manipulated to assume different appearances. Contemporary works by Marcius Galan and Adriano Costa continue this emphasis on the tentative over the fixed.
Neo-Concrete art put Brazil on the map. But it also reminded us that while we think of art as ageless, it remains bound up in life’s fleeting moments.—Howard Halle