The Art of Adriana Varejão Surrounds a Rio Olympics Aquatics Stadium
The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will be an attraction for culture lovers, as it is enveloped by a work of art by celebrated Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão. Sixty-six panels, each 27 metres high, reproduce Celacanto Provoca Maremoto, an installation displayed at the famous Inhotim Institute in Minas Gerais. It uses Portuguese tiling and a baroque style to mix imagery of the sea and angels. The panels are anti-UV treated to help regulate the building's temperature.
The work of art uses Portuguese tile images to tell the story of Brazil’s colonial history (Inhotim/Adriana Varejão)
The Lehmann-Maupin Gallery in New York City describes Varejão's work thusly:
Regarded as one of Brazil's most accomplished contemporary artists, Varejão often references cultural and historic research through an intense investigation into anthropology, colonial trade, demography, and racial identity. She is especially influenced by theories of mestizaje (a term for the mixing of ancestries) and cultural anthropophagy — as proposed by the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade, who urged artists to "cannibalize," rather than reject, cultural components of their country’s colonizers. The idea of empowering oppressed peoples through the assimilation of outside influences is reinforced through Varejão's mixture of global artistic mediums and styles. Her approach has resulted in a diverse body of work that can be both humorous and grotesque in its assessment of humankind’s history of coexistence.
This exhibition serves as a continuation of the artist's 2015 solo exhibition at the Dallas Contemporary, in which Varejão looked to art history — both Native American as well as within the Western canon — for inspiration, producing a tableau that reinterprets the Eurocentric perspective of the New World. In viewing the Mimbres and Kindred Spirits series together, Varejão demonstrates how Native American approaches to line, color, and shape influenced 20th century art, especially Minimalism. Both bodies of work weave together stories of distinct artistic traditions to emphasize the constant evolution and exchange of influences that shape culture and identity.
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