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Soft Power Arte Brasil

21.05.2016 - 28.08.2016

A survey of 38 Brazilian contemporary artists and artist groups on current themes in the country

Artist(s):
Efrain Almeida
Virginia De Medeiros
Gisela Motta
Paulo Nazareth
Maria Nepomuceno
Rivane Neuenschwander
Paolo Nimer Pjota
OPAVIVARÁ!
Sara Ramo
Marina Rheingantz
Sandra Sandra Cinto
Arthur Scovino
Beto Shwafaty
Gustavo Speridião
Adriana Varejão
Paulo Vivacqua
Roberto Winter
Tiago Mata Machado
Thiago Martins de Melo
Marcos Marcos Chaves
Jonathas de Andrade
Lucas Arruda
assume vivid astro focus
Tonico Lemos Auad
Rodrigo Braga
Athos Bulcao
Brígida Campbell | Poro
Angelo Campos
Rosane Chamecki | chameckilerner
Favela Painting
Frente 3 de Fevereiro
Grafica Fidalga
Cristiano Lenhardt
Andrea Lerner | chameckilerner
Cinthia Marcelle
Marcellvs L.
Carla Zaccagnini

During the summer of 2016, Kunsthal KAdE is showing 'Soft Power. Arte Brasil.' A large exhibition with an overview of 38 Brazilian contemporary artists and artist groups on current themes in the country. The reason for this exhibition is the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The second major sporting event Brazil is hosting in a short time, after the 2014 World Cup. With 'Soft Power. Arte Brasil." the question of what is the essence of the country presenting itself in this way. Part of the answer to that question can be found in the work of the visual artists and collectives that manifest themselves in contemporary Brazil. Their work addresses a range of themes: from the position of indigenous people in the north of the country to the water problem in São Paolo and economic politics.

Economic, political, social and environmental framework
In the past decade, Brazil emerged as one of the BRIC countries, a quartet consisting of Brazil, Russia, India and China that became a major economic power outside the usual group of Western capitalist countries. Economically, the country was booming, but this also masked some fundamental problems it faces, economically and politically as well as socially and environmentally.

Meanwhile, the BRIC countries are in dire straits. Brazil, too. The economic framework has weakened, while some of the fundamental problems remain. There is still abject poverty (even though the position of the poorest has improved in recent decades), there is still corruption (with the fraud surrounding the oil company Petrobras as the provisional low point), there is still racial inequality (although the originally black and indigenous population has become somewhat emancipated in the past 15 years) and there are still major ecological problems (deforestation in the Amazon, water shortages around São Paulo). All of these "issues" lurk behind the appearances of the two major sporting events. All these issues are also the subject of artworks by many contemporary artists.

However, it is not only "misery" that is the subject of artistic expressions. Brazil is a country in which "modernity" and the "utopian" have taken firm root. This is most evident in the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, who designed important buildings in many major cities in Brazil. The 'concreto' and 'neoconcreto' art movements in the 1950s to 1970s were closely aligned with what was happening in Western countries in the field of art, with the artists not denying their Brazilian 'roots'. These now art-historical movements still resonate in contemporary art practice, including sensual aesthetics and refined abstraction.

All these elements - from the engaged subjects to the specific aesthetics - are reflected in the works in 'Soft Power. Arte Brasil.'

Participating artists
Efrain Almeida (1964) | Jonathas de Andrade (1982) | Lucas Arruda (1983) | assume vivid astro focus (Eli Sudbrack, 1968 & Christophe Hamaide Pierson, 1973) & Lenora de Barros (1953) | Tonico Lemos Auad (1968) | Rodrigo Braga (1976) | Athos Bulcao (1918 - 2008) | Angelo Campos (1981) | chameckilerner (Rosane Chamecki, 1964 & Andrea Lerner, 1966) | Marcos Chaves (1961) | Sandra Cinto (1968) | Favela Painting (Haas & Hahn) | Frente 3 de Fevereiro (group) | Grafica Fidalga (group) | Cristiano Lenhardt (1975) | Cinthia Marcelle (1974) | Tiago Mata Machado (1973) | Marcellvs L. (1980) | Thiago Martins de Melo (1981) | Virginia De Medeiros (1973) | Gisela Motta (1976) & Leandro Lima (1976) | Paulo Nazareth (1977) | Maria Nepomuceno (1976) | Rivane Neuenschwander (1967) & Cao Guimarães (1965) | Paulo Nimer Pjota (1988) | OPAVIVARÁ! (group) | Poro (Brígida Campbell, 1981 & Marcelo Terça-Nada! 1978) | Sara Ramo (1975) | Marina Rheingantz (1983) | Arthur Scovino (1980) | Beto Shwafaty (1977) | Gustavo Speridião (1978) | Adriana Varejão (1964) | Paulo Vivacqua (1971) | Roberto Winter (1983) | Carla Zaccagnini 1973

Favela Painting
A special project in this regard is "Favela Painting," initiated by the Dutch duo Haas & Hahn in the favela Vila Cruzeiro (Rio de Janeiro). In this project, dilapidated facades in the favela were painted in bright color patterns. In 2015, this project was taken up with renewed energy.
There are also the posters, advertising murals and political messages that adorn walls everywhere in Brazil's cities.

The intensive use of "walls" in the streetscape, also finds its reflection within the visual arts. Many artists have created a "wall" somewhere in their oeuvre, ranging from murals to physical, three-dimensional objects to video recordings. Major galleries such as Vermelho in São Paulo and A Gentil Carioca in Rio de Janeiro have a special walls project. The latter in the heart of downtown Rio, often involving social interaction with the neighborhood.

In Soft Power. Arte Brasil. we give this "walls" theme an emphatic place by having a series of walls designed and executed on site by artists and designers who come to Amersfoort especially for this occasion. These walls act as context, backdrop and autonomous artwork, within which the individual, artistic statements of the other artists - and their reflections on contemporary Brazil - are positioned. The walls can be formal in nature or have a symbolic layer, creating a layered overall image.

Many Brazilian artists have a sensitive way of conveying their themes. No matter how hard, confrontational or harrowing a subject, Brazilian artists have the ability to wrap the themes in a shell that is "soft," tactile and communicative, often laced with humor, lightness and spontaneity. A "soft power" approach that combines aesthetics, craft and poetry with a conceptual way of thinking. The heritage of the "concreto" and "neoconcreto" movements still resonates emphatically in this artistic practice.

Title Soft Power
The title "Soft Power" is taken from a book by American political scientist Joseph S. Nye Jr. (1937). He wrote the book "Soft Power, the means to success in world politics" in 2004. In it, he describes the method as a way to change people's thinking to achieve your goal. It is a tactic that indirectly and through detours tries to change a context in such a way that it shifts the momentum within which people make decisions.

This is exactly what many artists do: influence the perception of reality, by mirroring the world in their (subjective) way. Many of the artists in the exhibition bring about a different perception of political and social issues in their viewers. They convey their message "softly," but uncompromisingly.

Also, the way Brazil's people have reclaimed the streets in recent decades, or emancipated themselves in the favelas, could be called a form of "soft power": they are a group you can no longer ignore and thus a factor to be reckoned with.

Finally, positioning Brazil as a major world player through the major sporting events is a "soft power" type operation. Brazil thinks it belongs to the modern, "Western," world. And wants to make that known. In this way, Brazil also enters Dutch living rooms. But which country do we see? Against the media image - often directed by commercial stakeholders - Kunsthal KAdE brings the image 'from within', as presented by the artists.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive fringe program including lectures, workshops, music, film and dance. On Saturday, May 21, there will be a symposium in which Brazilian artists, critics and gallery owners will discuss the position of Brazilian art today.

Mapping Brasil. Dutch to Brazil in the 17th Century.
Together with Museum Flehite, Kunsthal KAdE developed the presentation 'Mapping Brasil' as part of 'Soft Power. Arte Brasil'. It is a presentation with books, prints and maps of an intensive cultural period, by makers from both the Netherlands and other European countries.

The historical section "Mapping Brasil" shows that the ties between Brazil and the Netherlands go way back. Between 1630 and 1654, the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands ruled over part of Brazil; an area in the northeast, based in the city of Recife. After initial years of chaos, Governor Prince Maurice put things in order starting in 1637. He did not go to Brazil alone. In his wake went artists (Frans Post, Albert Eckhout), scientists (the astronomer Georg Markgraf, the physician Willem Piso), cartographers and botanists. They mapped the landscape, the people, the flora and fauna and the culture. Literally and figuratively. The books and prints that appeared based on these trips and surveys were for a long time among the standard works on Brazil, because the Dutch were the first to index these elements of Brazilian nature and culture.,, The paintings of Frans Post and Albert Eckhout are important "notes" of mid-seventeenth-century Brazil. After the Dutch left Brazil, the French, English, Germans and Portuguese also mapped the country.

Mapping Brasil is a presentation featuring the books, prints, maps, atlases and other documents of this intensive cultural period, by creators from both the Netherlands and other European countries. These sources are complemented by animations of paintings and books and a constructed animation of the Nassau Palace. These videos were produced by the Cultural Center Itaú, which has a large collection of "Brasiliana. Their center in São Paulo houses a permanent exhibition of pieces from the collection. Among them are short films and animations about the most important books in the collection.

The books and prints that appeared on the basis of these trips and investigations were for a long time among the standard works on Brazil, because the Dutch were the first to index these elements of Brazilian nature and culture. The paintings of Albert Eckhout - who settled in Amersfoort after his return from Brazil - inspired, among other things, decorative wall panels that Jacob van Campen painted for the Randenbroek country house. These panels are on long-term loan to Museum Flehite in Amersfoort.

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