• amelia toledo: 1958–2007


    curated by luis pérez-oramas
    nara roesler new york
    february 25 – april 17, 2021

  • Amelia Toledo (1926–2017) is a leading figure of Brazilian art in the twentieth century, with a career spanning over five decades, marked by distinctive engagements with constructive sculptural experimentations, that subsequently unfolded into iconic entwinements between art and nature. Toledo was first introduced to the field of visual arts at the end of the 1930s as she began frequenting the studio of Brazilian modernist landmark artist Anita Malfatti (1889–1964), after which she studied under the guidance of Yoshiya Takaoka (1909–1978) and Waldemar da Costa (1904–1982).

     

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  • Throughout her career, Toledo made use of several media and techniques, including painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, installations, and metalsmith/jewelry design, always focusing on the use of materials and faktura. Her work was initially aligned with constructivist research, echoing notions of Neoconcretism and the characteristic preoccupations of the 1960s, with an interest for public participation, as well as for the entwinement of art and life. She developed her multifaceted oeuvre in permanent and mutually enriching interlocution with other artists of her generation including Mira Schendel, Tomie Ohtake, Helio Oiticica and Lygia Pape.

  • From Campo de cor series, 2000's

    acrylic paint on linen

    200 x 690,7 x 3,7 cm | 78.7 x 271.9 x 1.5 in

  • In the late 1950s, Amelia Toledo undertook an investigation based on the transition from plan to volume, drawing inspiration from...

    Plane-Volume I1959/1999

    cut and bent copper sheet

    30 x 22 x 12 cm | 11.8 x 8.7 x 4.7 in

    In the late 1950s, Amelia Toledo undertook an investigation based on the transition from plan to volume, drawing inspiration from the works of Max Bill and Jorge Oteiza. Plano Volume (1959), the first foray into this investigation, starts from a simple procedure: circular cuts on a copper plate forming a helicoid, and then curved.

  • In the participatory piece titled Singing Dragons (2007) rock fragments that have been molded by the movement of the tides...

    Singing dragon, 2007

    perforated sound stone on concrete column

    140 x 30 x 36 cm | 55.1 x 11.8 x 14.2 in

    In the participatory piece titled Singing Dragons (2007) rock fragments that have been molded by the movement of the tides are highlighted by the sound that each of them make when the spectator interacts with their surface using a small piece of wood.

    • Singing Dragon, 2007 perforated sound stone on concrete column 47.6 x 26.4 x 10.6 in
      Singing Dragon, 2007
      perforated sound stone on concrete column
      47.6 x 26.4 x 10.6 in
    • Singing Dragon, 2007 perforated sound stone on concrete column 58.6 x 22 x 12.2 in
      Singing Dragon, 2007
      perforated sound stone on concrete column
      58.6 x 22 x 12.2 in
    • Singing Dragon, 2007 perforated sound stone on concrete column 52.8 x 18.1 x 14.6 in
      Singing Dragon, 2007
      perforated sound stone on concrete column
      52.8 x 18.1 x 14.6 in
    • Singing Dragon, 2007 perforated sound stone on concrete column 54.3 x 17.3 x 15.7 in
      Singing Dragon, 2007
      perforated sound stone on concrete column
      54.3 x 17.3 x 15.7 in
  • Also from her early works, the exhibition presents some of the collages that Amelia Toledo started in 1958, while she was living in London. An experiment with the transparency of silk and rice paper, some of these collages are impregnated with beeswax granting the pieces a special thickness, making them almost sculptural.

  • Collage, 1958 dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax 45,5 x 42,5 cm | 17.9 x 16.7 in

    Collage, 1958

    dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax

    45,5 x 42,5 cm | 17.9 x 16.7 in

    • Collage, 1959 dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax 20.1 x 18.5 in
      Collage, 1959
      dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax
      20.1 x 18.5 in
    • Collage, 1958 dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax 23.8 x 18.3 in
      Collage, 1958
      dyed rice paper and silk paper impregnated with beeswax
      23.8 x 18.3 in
  • The striking and colorful Penetrable highlights Toledo’s ‘natural’ approach to painting, using raw canvases and rough organic pigments on jute,...

    Paths of color, 1999–2020

    38 pieces of painted jute

    261 x 450 x 450 cm | 102.8 x 177.2 x 177.2 in

    The striking and colorful Penetrable highlights Toledo’s ‘natural’ approach to painting, using raw canvases and rough organic pigments on jute, creating a physically penetrable mass of color, revealing the malleable nature of the support, as well as a repertoire of transparency.

  • In 1975, the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM Rio) held Emergências (1975), a solo exhibition showcasing Toledo’s recent works. The artist presented a series of sculptures molded from the human body, displaying hands, mouths, ears, and feet, both in groups, and individually.

  • Emergences/Emergencies [Emergências], 1975 | Museological Object [Objeto Museológico] (molding in fiberglass and dust, 15 x 100 x 200 cm) and Counterbody [Contracorpo] at the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art (MAM-RJ) | photo: Mo Toledo

  • The walls have ears, 1973
    molding in polyester resin with pigment

    Ø 6,9 x 2,8 cm | Ø 2.7 x 1.1 in

  • In addition to the sculptures exhibited in Emergências, Toledo also presented a group of works in newspapers, in which she...

    Emergencies, 1975

    stamp paint on newspaper

    58,5 x 38 cm | 23 x 15 in

    In addition to the sculptures exhibited in Emergências, Toledo also presented a group of works in newspapers, in which she covered parts of the surface with prints of human hands and feet, as well as animal paws. While indicating the trace of a past presence, the prints also obliterate and forbid the reading of the news. The exhibition as a whole, and through this series in particular, established a dialogue with the dark times of the Military Dictatorship in Brazil. According to curator and critic Agnaldo Farias ‘In that decade, there were few works that took on a critical component as eloquent as this’.

    • Emergencies, 1976 stamp paint on newspaper 22.8 x 15 in
      Emergencies, 1976
      stamp paint on newspaper
      22.8 x 15 in
    • Panther’s Paw Print, 1975 print of a panther’s paw stamp on newspaper 22.8 x 14.8 in
      Panther’s Paw Print, 1975
      print of a panther’s paw stamp on newspaper
      22.8 x 14.8 in
    • Panther’s Paw Print, 1975 print of a panther’s paw stamp on newspaper 22.6 x 15 in
      Panther’s Paw Print, 1975
      print of a panther’s paw stamp on newspaper
      22.6 x 15 in
  • Ultimately, Toledo’s signature achievements are driven by her focus on nature, implying her investigations on the concept of landscape, engaging with stones and shells, among other natural elements, which she collected compulsively and included in her work. Challenged by these materials, Amelia Toledo pursued her career as both an artist and an engineer, envisaging the possibility of an ecological concretism.

  • Periscópio, 1976

    mold of shell in polyester resin, exposed to the action of the sea with the formation of barnacles and bryozoa; on concrete column, covered with acrylic dome

    11,5 x 13,3 x 1,8 cm | 4.5 x 5.2 x 0.7 in

  • In works like Path of Colors from the Dark (2001), the artist uses stones to investigate color, brightness, transparency, and...

    Path of colors from the dark, 2001

    green fuchsite

    18 pieces of variable dimensions

    In works like Path of Colors from the Dark (2001), the artist uses stones to investigate color, brightness, transparency, and the various shapes of the Earth’s ‘flesh’. She was able to create compositions in which pieces collected from the dark depths of natural settings are placed in various arrangements, including dialogues with ‘modern’ materials, such as stainless steel. The rocks were not subject to any treatment that would change their original form, but were merely polished to reveal their internal designs, the delicate veins, revealing their temporality.

  • The experimentation with the medium’s materiality would lead the artist to create the Fiapos [Wisps] series in the 1980s, in...

    Wisp, undated

    linen and cotton pulp paper

    60 x 23 cm | 23.6 x 9.1 in

    The experimentation with the medium’s materiality would lead the artist to create the Fiapos [Wisps] series in the 1980s, in which the paper seems to have returned to the condition of pulp, a formless and tenuous material that seems invaded by light and shaped by lightness.

    • Wisp, 1984 linen and cotton pulp paper 21.3 x 18.5 in
      Wisp, 1984
      linen and cotton pulp paper
      21.3 x 18.5 in
    • Wisp, undated linen and cotton pulp paper 19.3 x 22.4 in
      Wisp, undated
      linen and cotton pulp paper
      19.3 x 22.4 in
  • Yo-yo is another example of the artist's abilities to articulate different materialities, whereby Toledo intertwined resin and metal in the...

    Yo-Yo, 1968/2017

    polyester resin and partially embedded steel spring

    Ø 13 x 80 in | Ø 5.1 x 31.5 in

    Yo-yo is another example of the artist's abilities to articulate different materialities, whereby Toledo intertwined resin and metal in the construction of a playful object that evokes a child's toy. 

  •  

    amelia toledo
    b. são paulo, brazil, 1926
    d. cotia, brazil, 2017

     

    Amelia Toledo began studying visual arts at the end of the 1930s, as she began to frequent Anita Malfatti’s studio. During the following decade, she continued her studies with Yoshiya Takaoka and Waldemar da Costa.
    In 1948, she started working as a project designer for the architecture studio Vilanova Artigas. Her contact with iconic figures of Brazilian Modern Art encouraged her to develop a multifaceted oeuvre, which entwines diverse artistic languages such as sculpture, painting and print making. According to curator Marcus Lontra, ‘the wealth of Amelia’s work comes close to that of silence: to understand her production, it is first necessary to understand that the half empty part of a glass is as important as its full counterpart.
    We are only able to communicate because of the existence of emptiness, silence, the breath between two words, between two sentences. Amélia Toledo invests in and investigates that space, that moment, that passage.’

     

    Starting in the 1970s, the artist’s production abandoned its constructive grammar—characterized by geometric elements and curves—, turning instead to organic shapes. Toledo began to collect various materials, such as shells and stones, which served as sources of inspiration, and on which she also performed punctual interventions. Quickly, the landscape took on a fundamental role in her practice as she began to incorporate it in her works; notably, her steel sculptures play with the environment creating optical illusions through reflection. In parallel, Toledo’s paintings took on monochromatic characteristics, revealing her interest for investigating color and its behavior.

     

    portfolio

    Amelia Toledo, photo: Henry Stahl

    selected solo exhibitions
    • Amelia Toledo – Lembrei que esqueci, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
    (CCBB-SP), São Paulo, Brazil (2017)
    • Amelia Toledo, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2009)
    • Novo olhar, Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil (2007)
    • Entre, a obra está aberta, Museu de Arte de Santa Catarina (MASC),
    Florianópolis, Brazil (2006)
    • Viagem ao coração da matéria, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo,
    Brazil (2004)

     

    selected group exhibitions
    • Modos de ver o Brasil: Itaú Cultural 30 anos, Oca, São Paulo, Brazil (2017)
    • 10th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2015)
    • 30x Bienal: Transformações na arte brasileira da 1ª à 30ª edição, Fundação
    Bienal de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (2013)
    • Um ponto de ironia, Fundação Vera Chaves Barcellos, Viamão, Brazil (2011)
    • Brasiliana MASP: Moderna contemporânea, Museu de Arte de São Paulo
    (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (2006)

    selected collections
    • Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal
    • Instituto Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
    • Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP), São Paulo, Brazil
    • Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil
    • Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil


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