documenta X - home June 21 - September 28, 1997
Hélio Oiticica - Biographie
Hélio Oiticica Born 1937 in Rio de Janeiro, died in 1980 in the same city.
Hélio is the son of entomologist, photographer, and painter José Oiticica Filho and the grandson of the intellectual anarchist José Oiticica.

He completed his studies in 1954 at the Escola do Museu do Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro under Ivan Serpa, where he also taught children´s classes. During this time, he read Kant, Heidegger and Nietzsche intensively. He felt attracted to Constructivism, and became a member of the »Grupo Frente«, and in 1959 a member of the »Grupo Neoconcreto«
1957 and 1959 participation in the Biennial of São Paulo.
1969 solo exhibition in the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Early works by Oiticica such as »Metaesquemas« (1957- 58) are in the tradition of Concretism; they can be seen as radical reflections upon the structural components of painting (color and space), and the dissolution of the tensions between them. Series such as »Relieve Espacial« and »Núcleo«, with surfaces arranged in different angles and which integrate empty space as part of the work, mark the transition to three-dimensionality in 1959.

In an important series from the mid-60´s entitled »Bólides«, Oiticica uses glass jars filled with earth and colored pigments as well as boxes, with the intention of »giving color a unique structure«. During the same period, he created the »Parangolés« (slang expression for a heated situation), whose participants wore capes, banners and other articles. In this time, too, he participated in the Rio Carneval parades and the Samba festivals.

In Rio de Janeiro in 1967, Oiticica exhibited his Tropicália, a labyrinth-like environment with parrots, plants, sand, texts, and a television - a satire on the clichés of Brazilian culture and a commentary on the conflict between tradition and technology typical in the Third World . In later works as well, Oiticica was interested in the participation of the observer, and motivated them to reflect upon the cultural, social, and economic needs of Brazil. The goal of the Projeto Hélio Oiticica, established shortly after the artist´s death, is to protect and promote his work.

Retrospectives:
1986 Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro; 1987 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo; 1992 Witte de With Art Center, Rotterdam; 1992 Musée du Jeu de Paume, Paris.

Group exhibitions:
1970 »Information«, The Museum of Modern Art, New York; 1987 »Brazil Projects«, Institute for Contemporary Art, P.S. I Museum, Long Island City, New York; 1988 »The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920 - 1970«, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; 1989 »Art in Latin America: The Modern Era: 1820-1980, Hayward Gallery, London; 1991 »Experiância Neoconcreta, Rio de Janeiro 59/60«, Museu de Arte Moderna, Rio de Janeiro.

(From: Lateinamerikanische Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, Catalog for the exhibition of the same name in Cologne. Prestel, Munich 1993)
Hélio Oiticica - 1

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